As summer dawns, thoughts turn to outdoor cookouts and lounging on sprawling decks.
If you are thinking of building a new deck or replacing an old one, there are several things to take into consideration: Safety, function and budget.
"The most important thing is safety," said Tim Casey of Casey's Building and Remodeling.
It is wise to choose a qualified builder who adheres to quality standards for constructing a deck that will withstand weight and include appropriate railings, he said.
Injuries occur every year because of collapsing decks or railing failures, he said.
Decks 30 inches or higher above the ground are required to have railings, he said. Railings must be at least 34 inches high and balusters should not exceed four inches. He recommends avoiding ladder-type railings that might be a climbing temptation to small children.
Decks must be placed on a foundation that won't be affected by freeze/thaw conditions, he added, and a proper foundation begins with a concrete pier. The web site www.caseysbuilding.com contains further building details as well as pictures of finished decks.
The next consideration is function.
"Think about the number of people likely to use it," Casey said. "Is it a large family? Does everyone want a lawn chair? Is it for someone who entertains large groups? We want an idea of how the customer wants to use it."
The deck must be built so that it will accommodate the weight of the party.
Cost, of course, will be determined by size, style and materials.
While composite decking is more expensive than pressure-treated wood, it is longer lasting and requires little maintenance.
"Typically, a deck costs about $25 per square foot," Casey said. "Double that for a composite deck."
Additional costs would include railings and location. For example, a deck may be high above the ground on a hill and must be constructed to allow for the lay of the land.
A couple of Charleston families chose totally different decks to fit their needs.
The Edgar family has a ground level deck with built-in shelves and flower boxes, a grill plumbed into the gas line, benches and a pergola. The main deck area is about 30 feet by 12 feet. A table for outdoor dining is situated on a separate deck that is slightly raised.