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How to Accessorize a Deck

Oct 16, 2007
Furnishing and accessorizing a deck can easily be a pleasant experience. A wide variety of different products are vailable to a homeowner. It is very important to avoid going to the extreme by placing too much on the deck.

This can easily turn the outdoor living space into an obstacle rather than a structure that enhances its aesthetic and functional qualities in relation to the home and yard.

In situations where the deck is to be used year round or during the evening, outdoor lights, fire pits and patio heaters merit consideration. Plan extra space around grills and fire pits. Take the steps required to ensure that passageways that are frequently used are a minimum of 4 feet wide and are clear of any kinds of obstruction.

Hot tubs and water features should only be considered if there is sufficient space available. Features such as these demand careful planning, substantial amounts of space, weight supports and their own electrical circuits.

Decorative lighting is a great way to establish the mood on a deck. The possibilities are almost limitless. Low voltage commercial light strings can be woven along railing systems or in nearby overhanging branches. Low voltage light fixtures can also be hidden in hanging planters to create a feeling of ambiance.

The addition of lights to the surrounding yard greatly enhances the view from the deck at night creating drama as well as a sense of security. Utilize spotlights or floodlights to accent trees, shrubs and sculpture. Add spread lights to throw light horizontally across a garden or flower bed. In addition, position wash lights to reveal texture on a surface such as a chimney or masonry wall.

Decorative lighting fixtures for the outdoors are available in both line and low voltage types. Often they are available with a choice of lamps that include halogen, incandescent and compact flourescent. The latter lamp type is energy efficient and lasts the longest.

Avoid solar powered lights because the light output they generate is quite low. LED lighting fixtures are the wave of the future for low voltage deck and landscape lighting. These lights work well on stairs, in railing systems and when mounted on railing posts.

LED bulbs have an incredible lifespan and virtually never need changing. Although LED light fixtures cost more initially than their traditional counterparts, they are cheaper in the long run. They also conserve energy and are cooler thus reducing any danger related to finger burns.

A hot tub can be a great deck addition for relaxation but it requires a good deal of planning. Details must be worked out well in advance for its size, the number and placement of water jets, the location on the deck and support. All this must be done before any concrete is poured and any framework is built.

Hot tubs come in a variety of materials that include acrylic, stainless steel and ceramic tile. They also vary greatly in size with capacities up to 8 people.

The hot tub should be located in a space that maintains privacy. A separate open air or screened gazebo can work extremely well while providing a handy place to store towels, robes, shoes and even books.

Where the hot tub is part of the main deck structure, consider the installation of built-in seating around it. Think about placing planters in such a way as to separate the hot tub from other activity areas. Hot tubs can be installed flush with the deck surface or they can sit on the deck's surface.

Flush type hot tubs need a concrete slab for support. Hot tubs on the deck surface require extra footings and additional framing.

Any hot tub will need a water source, an electrical source, housing for the pump, valves and filter. A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a must to prevent possible electrocution. A wise decision would be to involve a licensed electrician and plumber in the addition process of a hot tub to the deck.

Ornamental water features, either freestanding or wall mounted, can buffer unwanted noise and provide a measure of relaxation. They require a power source to operate the pump motor. Water can be added occasionally to replenish the system and help to keep the pump functioning efficiently.

In cases where the foutain has a large water basin, a direct water source and a float valve can be used to maintain the water level automatically.

Reflecting pools and small ponds are wonderful possible deck accessories. Most often they are permanent structures with poured concrete or brick bases. A pump is a necessity to keep the water aerated and prevent the growth of algae. Again, a GFCI is an absolute necessity.

The pond or pool can be lined with either a rigid or flexible liner to keep water from draining away. Stones can be place around the edges to keep the liner in place and add a natural look. A wide array of aquatic plants such as water lilies can provide many decorative opportunities for the home gardener.

The number one activity on a deck is the burning of meat. Portable grills include larger grilling areas, side tables for resting serving plates, wheels so that the grill can be moved out of the way when necessary, rotisseries and side burners.

Built-in grills are a recent popular option. The advantages of these include permanent gas hookups, large grilling areas and roasting capactitiy, optional burners and rotisseries as well as durable weatherproof construction.

Portable or permanent food preparation and staging counters are becoming more popular. The space below the counter can become a cabinet for the storage of basic cooking and serving supplies. Cabinets on locking casters can add a great deal of portability to the food preparation and serving area.

Construction of such items will require the use of exterior grade plywood, water resistant finishes and polished stone, stainless steel or pocelain tile countertop materials.

The choice of whether or not to have a fire pit on a deck hinges upon how often it will be used and whether or not local bylaws allow it. In addition fire pits take up much space, pose safety issues and can be an eyesore at times. An alternative to a fire pit might be a chimnea or a portable fireplace.

The second choice, often called a fire bowl, is generally ringed with a stone ledge which can double as a place to set down a drink or plate.

More and more homeowners are opting to extend the outdoor entertaining season on the deck by using parasol shaped patio heaters. They are movable and burn kerosene, butane, propane or natural gas. Patio heaters come in many styles, sizes and price ranges.

Safety features can include emergency cutoff valves, flame controls, electronic ignition and infrared heating technology. The best placement is in a wind sheltered area.

The final option would be a built-in masonry fireplace located near the perimeter of the deck. It can be constructed with stone or brick which can complement materials already in existence around the house and yard.

Successful deck planning should take into account furnishing and accessorizing a deck so that homeowners, family members and guests will have every opportunity to enjoy their time on this new outdoor living space.
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 Design 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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