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Columbus designer talks about decks and porches

"A deck is a gateway to the backyard," Blankenship says.

Tom Blankenship is a former electrical engineer who started Creative Spas & Decks about 20 years ago after building his own home. He also does freelance artwork and focuses on the design when building a deck or porch.

"Anybody can build a deck, but to design it and make it aesthetically pleasing is the big thing," Blankenship says.

Why should I consider adding a deck or porch to my home?

"It's a great way to expand your living space and tie your yard more closely to your home. It's probably one of the best ways you can increase your home's value without spending a lot of money, and it's something you can enjoy. Decks are a better addition to some homes — with a porch, you might have to get an architect or change the roofline of the house. Decks are also more cost-effective."

What kinds of materials do you use to build a deck or porch?

"We use wood and composite materials. With wood, I recommend a premium grade of treated lumber. I don't use composites that contain wood — a lot of times, the wood hasn't been treated for outdoor use. The composite is becoming more popular. There are different types made of a superior grade of vinyl and plastic. I've also been doing composite deck surfaces with cedar trim, which give the beauty of cedar and the durability of the composite."

What's the average price for a new deck or porch?

"It's a wide range. Last year, my least expensive project was $3,500 and my most expensive was $29,000. It depends on the square footage and the type of material you choose. That $29,000 project was about 1,000 square feet. An average deck this year will probably be $5,000 to $8,000.

"Our decks are 100—percent guaranteed for workmanship. Some material has a lifetime guarantee, and some is guaranteed for 15 or 20 years. We're licensed, bonded and insured, and we give free estimates. You generally need a permit to build a deck or porch, but we'll take care of that."

What do I need to do to maintain my deck or porch?

"If it's a composite, keep it clean and free of mildew. You can have a siding or deck—cleaning company power wash it. With wood, you'll need a good water repellent — one I like is CWF by Flood ­— within six months after it's built." 


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