When it comes to home improvements that add value and enjoyment to your home, it's hard to top the power of a great deck. In fact, a deck can return nearly 73 percent of your initial investment when you sell your home, according to Remodeling Magazine's 2010 Cost vs. Value Report.
If this is your year to add a deck - or spruce up an existing one - here are some helpful tips from the home improvement experts at Lowe's:
Repairing and upgrading an existing deck
If your home already has a deck, start the summer season by making sure it's in good condition. Check for damaged boards and replace them with the appropriate decking material. Tighten fasteners or replace them if they won't tighten. Tap down and set protruding nails or replace them with deck screws. Check for splinters on surfaces, especially along handrails and steps, and smooth with sandpaper.
A fresh coat of deck stain will brighten the deck's appearance and keep it looking new longer by repelling water, resisting mildew and preventing fading in high-traffic areas. You can cut the project time in half by using a product like Express Deck wood stain by Cabot, which allows you to clean and stain in a single day without waiting for the deck to dry. The product, available exclusively at Lowe's, comes in a semi-transparent stain and can be tinted to any color or selected from the pre-mixed, grab-and-go oak brown.
Once your cleaning and staining tasks are done, you can add updates to your existing deck by swapping out railings or adding decorative metal post caps or post cap lights. Or you can give your deck a little extra privacy with lattice. Adding lattice is an easy and versatile way to provide beauty, privacy and dimension without blocking cooling breezes or boxing in space.
Building a new deck
Building a deck costs about $15 per square foot, on average - around $4,000 for a 16- by-20-foot deck. Treated lumber is still the material of choice for most homeowners. Standard treated decking is economical and offers a limited warranty against rot and decay. You can also upgrade to treated wood designed to stand up to severe weather like TopChoice Severe Weather Treated Decking.
Composite or PVC decking are other options. Durable and ecofriendly, these alternative materials mimic the look of wood and are low maintenance. Although composite brands like ChoiceDek and Trex cost more, the only maintenance required is regular cleaning. Composite won't split, splinter, crack or mold.
Deck trends and tips
Whether you're building a new deck or upgrading an existing one, here are some of the hot trends to consider incorporating into your design:
* Bigger is better when it comes to decks. Decks create more living space and are an extension of the home, so larger decks with multiple levels give you more space for living and entertaining. Built-ins for seating and storage are also popular additions to larger decks.
* Natural elements: Water features, such as a fountain, add to the relaxation of a deck and help mask the sounds of street traffic.
* Railings: Decks have railings for safety's sake, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice beauty for function. Railings are becoming a more important visual statement, with decorative balusters, posts and spindles, post caps and lighting.
* Outdoor room decor: Extend the look and feel of your home all the way outside - don't keep it confined to the walls of your home. Add accessories like outdoor rugs, lighting, pillows, container plants and new patio furniture to your outdoor space.
No matter what your deck project, planning and budgeting before you start can help your efforts run smoothly. Lowes.com offers a free Deck Designer tool and real-time lumber pricing.
Whether your choose traditional treated lumber or composite materials, create a trendy multi-level outdoor paradise or keep it simple, a deck can expand your outdoor living space, enhance your enjoyment of your home and create great value when the time comes to sell your home.