Decide Where and What to Build
Once you’ve ensured that your foundation will support your dream space, you’ll need to decide on its placement. First, consider how much of your yard you’ll dedicate to outdoor living. Will you dedicate the entire area? Or will you preserve some outdoor space for other uses or activities? Next, decide whether you’ll build a deck, a patio, or a combination of both.
The topography of your yard will do a lot to determine the structures best suited for your property. In many cases, a higher deck leading down to a lower deck or patio — such as a fire pit or dedicated seating area — will maximize the use of your outdoor living area and offer unique opportunities to gather and unwind. “Try to define your spaces,” says Joe Raboine, National Design and Training Specialist at Belgard. “Don’t just do a big blob out back. Figure out how you’re going to use your space and, if you can, create some spaces meant to serve an exact purpose.”
The positioning of your home is another important consideration. The key to getting the most out of your outdoor living space — both in terms of enjoyment and return on investment — is creating a space you’ll use. So, it’s important to consider how the sun, in particular, will impact your activities. Depending on how your outdoor living space is situated, you may want to install a retractable canopy or build a pergola or solid cover. “You can build a beautiful deck with the most beautiful materials and beautiful furniture on the market,” says Andy Hashman, a designer at Mosaic Outdoor Living in Colorado. “But if the sun’s beating down on it all day, you’ll never use it.”
Should you build a deck or patio?
Typically, patios are built on the ground and decks are built off the ground. A good rule of thumb says that any time you have a grade of more than 20 to 22 inches, a deck is going to be more cost effective than a patio.
Michael Beaudry, Executive Vice President,
North American Deck and Railing Association