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How to Alter a Deck Microclimate

Oct 16, 2007
Shadows, sound and wind are environmental conditions that need to be considered in creating a design for the enjoyment of outdoor deck spaces. It is important for a homeowner to understand their influences during the different seasons. Through careful design techniques it is quite possible to improve upon the deck microclimate.

By altering prevailing winds and developing more surfaces that are able to collect and hold or even discharge heat, the deck can be much warmer or cooler than surrounding areas.

Different surfaces have variable abilities to reflect and absorb heat or radiant energy. Wet or dark colored surfaces tend to absorb more heat than dry or light colored ones. A matte surface tends to reflect very little heat while absorbing most of it. Most natural surfaces such as wood or stone are relatively heat absorbent.

The speed of wind has a profound effect upon the heat retention of objects and of the air mass in a space. The speed and extent that heat and sound spread out depend upon wind and its turbulence.

Noise is distributed by air movement or winds. When a pleasing sound is intended, the structure and plantings must be designed to limit deflection and absorption. Since noise is carried by air movement, sounds that are desirable should not be blocked.

On the other hand street noise or sounds from adjacent yards will need to be toned down. In order to accomplish this, create solid walls and windbreaks that reflect and deflect the sounds away from the site.

Where the noise is excessive and cannot be deflected, mask it by adding pleasing sound to it. Noises can be disguised by incorporating plants with rustling leaves, wind chimes or the subtle sounds of a water feature.

Wind tends to increase in velocity above ground obstructions that create turbulence. The objective of windbreaks is to block and divert winds without creating turbulence. A solid vertical wall is not a perfect solution because it lowers the temperature on the protected side.

Dense groupings of shrubs and trees that are progressively higher the closer they come to the protected deck space can easily reduce wind speed by 50 percent without affecting temperature negatively.

Shadows and shading are important influences upon the temperature of outdoor spaces such as a deck. Areas with year round cooler weather will require a good deal of sunshine and little shade. In areas where hot weather is the norm, the reverse is true.

If sunshine is critical it will be necessary to study shadows upon the proposed deck site to determine and estimate their actual extent during the various seasons. The information gleaned from these observations will enable the homeowner to design ways in which to either trap warmth or avoid the heat.

Construction of shade structures such as arbors and pergolas can create shade areas where permit air movement is not affected. Climbing vines and plants are wonderful accessories in this process because the enclosure they help to create is subtle in nature and very beneficial to deck users.

The orientation of a deck or adjacent wall surface will make a great difference in how warm it is. A wall angled to collect direct sun will be warmer than a nearby vertical wall. In a deck space, absorbed and reflected heat can, like solar panels, warm the surrounding areas. The trick is to consider design possiblities where the angled orientation of certain structural elements can be incorporated into the general design of the deck.

Conscious design decisions based upon thorough research, careful thought, imagination and strategic planning can do much to affect a deck microclimate and make the eventual finished product a place where family and guests can truly enjoy the outdoors most of the time.
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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