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How to Create Deck Access

Oct 11, 2007
Deck access is an important factor in the design and creation of this important type of outdoor structure. No matter how complete the landscape design is made, even the most luxurious deck will not be used unless it can be seen from the inside, unless an easy way to get at it is provided and if its uses are in conflict with the uses of any adjacent interior room.

Visual access, actual access and compatibility have the power to spell the difference between successful and unsuccessful deck designs. There are practical solutions to these potential problems.

1. Visual access - Basically visual access means being able to see the deck. However it should also mean extending a tangible invitation into this outdoor space. Windows, French doors, atrium doors, sliding glass doors and screen doors easily provide visual access even when they are closed. However, it is not essential to view the entire deck in order to want to go out and enjoy it. Just a glimpse can be more effective in drawing one in than a complete view. It may be necessary to rearrange interior room furnishings in order to see some of the deck.

It may also be necessary to rearrange furniture on the deck so that the deck might be seen from the inside of the home. In landscaping a deck it is essential to include techniques which will entice guests outside by providing visual hints of the destination. At least some of the deck area should be seen from more than one interior room while the most complete view would be from the room that adjoins it.

To improve the visual flow select decking and accents whose colors and patterns resemble the decor of the interior room. This similarity will establish an indoor-outdoor connection at a glance.

2. Actual access - This refers to the physical procedure used to move from the inside of the house to the deck outside. Actual access should be simple and easy. Wide doorways create an inviting transition between house and deck making the deck actually feel like part of the room. If possible avoid having to step too far up or down to move from the interior to the exterior. This would necessitate the level of the deck being close to the level of the interior floor.

In case the deck is much lower than the exterior door of the home, add a landing or an entry deck to avoid having to step down immediately upon leaving the house. This threshold provides an opportunity to get one's bearings in moving from the inside to the outside. If a landing is not practical create steps that are wider than the doorway. This will create the illusion of spaciousness and at the same time provide an area that can double as a casual seating area.

3. Compatability - The success of the deck design may depend largely upon how the nearest indoor room is used even when all of the other design elements are complete. This results from the fact that a deck is used more often when the general purpose of both the outdoor and indoor spaces is similar. A small deck adjacent to the bedroom would not be ideal for party space but would be a perfect choice for coffee and the morning paper.

Frequent dining would necessitate the deck being close to the kitchen even if a self-contained kitchen is a part of the deck. In the case of entertaining a practical and effective location for the deck would be close to the public rooms of the home such as the family room or great room.

Decks that serve 2 or more functions should be large enough to be accessible from a number of rooms. Often a wraparound deck is an ideal choice for this. If privacy is an important issue, look for options to limit access such as the use of tall shrubs, hedges, screening, fencing or an overhead structure such as an arbor or pergola. For entertaining the opposite is true.

Look for ways to increase access such as adding doorways from rooms used to entertain. Consider also exterior paths and walkways that permit guests to move to and from the deck without having to navigate through the home.

Visual deck access, actual deck access and compatibility are vital factors that have a tremendous impact upon the effectiveness of the deck design chosen and the measure of enjoyment by homeowners and their families.
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 Access 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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