Decks, Fences & Patio

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Deck, Fence & Patio Considerations

Fences, decks and patios are functional, attractive and versatile additions to any home. They can expand and define your outdoor living environment, offering a safe, convenient space for relaxation and entertainment.

A deck or patio can serve as a cooking area, a dining area, a family gathering space or simply spot to sit and watch the world go by. Consider how you want to use such a space both now and in the future - a deck or patio is one of the more inexpensive additions you can make to a home, offering a lot of square footage for your dollar. So if you've got some wiggle room in your budget, you may want to shoot for a larger or more elaborate deck or patio than was initially envisioned.

Top quality lumber, concrete and fasteners should be employed in the construction of your patio or deck. While redwood and cedar are beautiful and resilient, treated pine and fir are affordable alternatives. All wood can be sealed with water-repellant sealant to ensure a longer life for the boards, and rust-proof screws and hardware can withstand plenty of abuse from the elements.

In addition to proper deck placement - accessibility to the home (especially the kitchen), privacy, and clearance above the ground - you'll want to consider safety and functionality. Handrails and adequate lighting should be staples of any patio, and built in seating and storage can save money on furniture and keep inside closet space free from outdoor clutter.

Hookups for gas grills can be installed at the outset, even if you are waiting until later to purchase a grill. Roofs, screens, fans, misters and heaters can make a deck or patio comfortable and useable year round.

Fences can protect your home and family, not only from intruders but also from wind, sun, prying eyes and unwanted views. Privacy fencing offers a protected enclave for a home, with wide boards and narrow gaps between them. Check local building codes, though, before you set out to erect a privacy fence - there are often height limits.

Other types of fencing are ideal for specific purposes, whether it's a chain link fence to corral a family pet or decorative white picket fence to give a touch of Americana to your landscape. Vinyl is a durable, low-maintenance option that can give the appearance of wood without a lot of the upkeep concerns. Or you may prefer to erect a wall of brick or stone for added beauty, security and privacy.

In the words of Robert Frost, "Good fences make good neighbors." You may want to talk with your neighbor before installing a fence, to make sure none of their treasured views or necessary sunlight is blocked when you put up your fencing.