Before or After the Rain - Decks and Patios


Are you considering a home extension, a deck, a patio? And not sure which way to go? These pointers may help you decide.

EXTENSION OF HOUSE: Choose a patio when you want another part of the house – but watch out, this may need building planning permissions

SPACE: A deck must be large enough for two people to sit at a table: 6’ by 5’ is the minimum, and plan on larger if you wish to have more people enjoying the deck.

UNEVEN GROUND: If your ground is uneven, a deck may be the way to go. You can sink piers into the ground on which you add a level deck.

TRACKING IN MUD, DUST, SOIL: If you are concerned about mud and dirt being tracked into the house, go for a deck. Even a well-swept patio will cause more dirt tracked in than will a deck. 

Attached decks add additional living space to a home. For many years they have primarily been constructed of wood, such as cedar or redwood, but are now more and more commonly created of composite wood material or vinyl, like Trex. These man made materials, although more expensive, are longer lasting, resistant to insects, and don’t splinter as wood can.  And they involve no maintenance, which is, of course, the biggest appeal! 


YARD OR GARDEN EXTENSION: A patio can be considered more of an extension to the yard or garden, than to the house, as a deck is.

NO PLANNING PERMISSION: Permissions are not usually required (but be sure to check in your local area) as it does not add on to true living space and is not a structure of the house. A patio does not need safety railings, and code requirements, as it is not a raised portion of the house structure.

EVEN GROUND SURFACE: If you have an even surface near the house, and also near the yard or garden, you have the ideal spot for a patio. It can include landscaping design, pond or pool, tables and chairs and umbrellas, etc.

Patios are very versatile: They can be attached to the house or separate; they can be an inherent part of the landscaping of the yard or garden; they can be created in a myriad of shapes or sizes; and can be created from a large selection of materials. They are usually constructed of tile, concrete, slate, gravel, or brick. Brick pavers are costly, while concrete is usually the least expensive option. But concrete can crack, and weeds can grow through the cracks or joins in the concrete. Stone, while beautiful, also requires some weeding attention.


No matter which you are leaning towards, deck or patio, here are a few things to remember that apply to both:

·         Plan your deck or patio to be near a main living area such as your kitchen or family room. This will be the most convenient, and ensure the best usage of your new living space.
  • Be sure you figure in location with regard to sun and the elements. Decks and patios and decks on the north and east side of your home will be less sunny, and be prone more to cold winds.
  • Choose the size of your deck or patio carefully. The best rule of thumb is to plan on this “outdoor room” being about the same size as your largest room in the house.
  • Test the whole project: A good idea is to plant stakes all around the circumference of the deck or patio, as you envisage it, then connect up the stakes with some twine. In this way you can live with the project for a while to see if you have planned it well!
 You will enjoy this new addition to your living space for many years, so it is worth thinking it through before you start. Good luck and enjoy before or after the rain.

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