3 factors to consider when building a deck or patio

It is especially important when searching for an honest, experienced contractor to have a clear idea of what the space you're creating is meant for, says Klaas. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Kathryn M. of Charlotte, N.C.)

It is especially important when searching for an honest, experienced contractor to have a clear idea of what the space you're creating is meant for, says Klaas. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Kathryn M. of Charlotte, N.C.)

From proposal to purchase, the pursuit of your new, custom outdoor living space can be broken down to a two-step process: Picking a destination and finding the right guide. 

A journey is always easier and more enjoyable when you’re traveling with a savvy guide, but only if you know where you want to go. It is essential that you have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish and then find the right contractor to bring your plans for a deck or patio area to fruition. 

Below are three important factors you should consider as you develop plans for your outdoor living area.

1. Social vs. private

Is this space meant for entertaining or for small family enjoyment? An outdoor kitchen built for a family of four, for example, would look vastly different than one built to accommodate large social gatherings. 

This is especially important when searching for an honest, experienced contractor. A dishonest contractor may either look for ways to sell you more than what would be necessary, while an inexperienced contractor may not be familiar with the usage requirements necessary to accommodate your intent. Have a clear idea of the type of use this deck or patio space will incur.

2. Annual vs. seasonal

Whether you have two seasons or four, the changing climate will affect the way you use your outdoor space. Do you want something that accommodates year-round usage or do you want to specifically cater to the season you enjoy most? 

Another element to consider is how the addition will affect activity inside the home. A custom patio cover or second story deck without skylights or lighting, for example, will change the amount of sunlight that reaches inside that side of the house. 

For homes with heavy rainfall or freezing temperatures, the wrong type of concrete would be a slippery and hazardous option, especially on slopes and stairways.

3. Maintenance

Deck maintenance is especially individualized to each homeowner and there are always solutions and opportunities to accommodate this aspect of the custom outdoor living project. 

From choosing between a wood burning or gas fire place, glass or cable railing, natural wood or composite decking, and even whether or not to include heaters or storage benches, each homeowner should approach their devotion to maintaining their new space honestly and reflectively. 

Additionally, you’ll want to be very aware of the maintenance requirements and warranties for the products you do choose. Doing so will greatly add to the ease and enjoyment of whichever project you move forward with, as well as extend the life of the finished product.

A greater understanding of these three factors will set your project apart from those who did not take them into consideration. The answers you have for each will not only help you find the contractor that best fits your project, but also keep your project goals concise and focused. 

About this Angie’s List Expert: Kari Klaas is the office manager at USI Custom Outdoor Living, providing decks and patios in Seattle. Since 2009, USI Custom Outdoor Living has specialized in decks, porches, awnings, stamped and aggregate concrete and more. They are a recipient of the 2013 Angie’s List Super Service Award.

As of January 20, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List

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Which works better: a delightful deck or perfect patio?


covered deck
Sometimes a nice cover over at least part of your deck can provide much-needed shade on hot days. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Jeffrey H. of Warners, N.Y.)

Both decks and patios increase a home’s outdoor living space and its value. Before embarking on your project, be sure to evaluate your needs by considering your budget, topography and maintenance.

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