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How to Create Deck Amenities

Oct 9, 2007
In recent years deck amenities have become more and more popular in bringing many of the comforts of the indoors into the beauty and spaciousness of the outdoors. The ones chosen will depend a great deal upon how the deck space is to be used.

Outdoor cooking and grilling areas provide opportunities for hosts to enjoy additional time with friends, family and guests. Outdoor kitchens with a propane grill and cabinetry will be almost as easy to use as one indoors. Entire meals can be cooked outdoors without moving in and out of the house if an outdoor working sink is available.

The outdoor kitchen can be equipped with facilities ranging from a plain charcoal grill to a gas range. Any grill or range must be located in the best location which combines safety and convenience. Whether the grilling or cooking device is portable or built-in, it should be out of traffic routes and views. Consider installing a small overhead shelter or locate the grill under overhanging eaves in case of rain.

An outdoor kitchen area needs to have enough room for food preparation, serving space and utensil storage. Permanent fixtures such as outdoor cooktops, ovens and refrigerators provide a wide variety of options. It's important to select outdoor grade equipment that is manufactured to meet building codes and withstand all weather conditions. Waterproof cabinets are a useful and practical addition to an outdoor kitchen area.

The use of outdoor lighting can add many extra hours to the enjoyment of the deck while also adding decorative appeal to it. Low voltage systems which are simple to install are great at creating a special ambience, giving a deck an entirely different character than during the day.

Decorative and concealed light fixtures lend style and atmosphere to outdoor spaces. In addition they increase security. Concealed light sources focus attention on a particular area or object. They can be stategically placed among trees, shrubs, plants, in trees or at ground level to do the job. Decorative fixtures project a more diffused light and come in 2 forms: freestanding units mounted on short bases or types to be attached to posts or walls.

Uplighting is a technique in which concealed fixtures cast light up into an object from its base to draw attention to an area or decorative object. Position the fixture in from of the object or area so the beam shines away from viewing areas.

Downlighting casts a soft, indirect glow on horizontal surfaces such as paths, steps, deck floors and tabletops. The fixtures should be located out of sight so as not to draw attention away from the illuminated object. They can be mounted on arbor and pergola rafters, tree trunks and branches. Path lighting are short decorative fixtures that cast light downward along pathways, walkways and steps.

A firepit can easily become a cozy focal point for family gatherings and guests providing warmth on cool days and evenings. A fireplace, chimnea or firepit is an addition that requires careful planning and installation.

Outdoor fireplaces are generally freestanding and are usually constructed of mortared brick or stone. The hearth and fire screen provide fireproof safeguards while a damper controls drafts. A rotisserie and brick lined warming oven are possibilities too. The fireplace should blend with the style of the house and the deck.

Chimneas are portable fire sources that resemble potbelly stoves. These decorative fireplaces add comfort with their warmth as well as with the sound and scent of burning logs. They are not designed for cooking and are best stored indoors in colder winter months.

Free standing gas and wood burning firepits are other alternatives that provide firelight, warmth and a great place to toast marshmallows. Safety with these amenities should be a priority. A fire extinguisher is a necessity nearby as is a cover for covering the firepit in case the flames grow too large.

Any kind of water feature can add a great deal of charm to a deck area. A small pool with a fountain or a container fountain will provide hours of relaxing enjoyment for all who view them.

Many outdoor amenities require plumbing, electrical or natural gas lines. These items should be included in the planning stages of the deck design. Hot tubs, ponds, fountains and waterfall pumps require electrical outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). Lighting systems require electrical lines.

A permanent natural gas line for a gas grill might be a better choice that a propane tank. An exterior phone jack is a useful possibility as is an exterior cable connection if outdoor activities on the deck include watching television.

For safety reasons and to avoid visual clutter, utilities are best run underground to the deck site. Plan the utility path so that it does not interfere with anything else in the area. Check with the local building department to make sure the plan meets code requirements. Rough in the systems after any deck excavations but before any of the foundation is put into place.

Luckily homeowners in search of ways to enhance the appeal of their decks have many options available to them. Research, careful planning and the use of some imagination can assist them as they take the steps to create deck amenities.
About the Author
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of "How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish". To Discover More About
Deck Amenities and Claim your 2
FREE Deck Plans, Insider Report, MP3 Audio and discover everything to know about
building a deck visit:
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