Some things you need to consider:
- Functionality – What do you want to do on the deck – barbeque, play games like cards or ping pong, soak in a hot tub or just relax. How much space do you have? Do you want to cover part or all of it with a roof? Often at least a partial roof makes a lot of sense here on the north coast.
- 0rientation - Consider exposure to sun and wind. Southern exposures are the best orientation for summertime exposure to sunshine. Of course you need to take into consideration the location of the deck in relation to existing and proposed buildings. Wind can be trouble and there are several ways to block or deflect wind – regular pre-assembled lattice does wonders, as do wind deflection techniques.
- Decorations – Do you want plants on the deck? If so, would you want built-in planters, hanging planters or potted plants. How about lighting? Furniture?
- Appearance – There are systems you can use so that fasteners such as screws do not show, but they all add a pretty good cost to a deck – usually over $1.00 per square foot of deck.
- Safety – You may need guardrails which may or may not be costly, depending upon the type you choose. Built-in planters can be useful and less expensive than railing. Can you incorporate part of a fence to help? You may have a multi-level deck that requires some protection from unexpected deck height changes as people move across the deck. Stairs are often needed.
- Maintenance – There are options as to how much maintenance you will need to do (there is no such thing as maintenance free). Composite decks (Trex, etc.) are pre-colored – they do weather somewhat over time. These decks require less refinishing but they do require careful cleaning. You may or may not choose to stain natural wood decks, but a clear finish as a minimum will prolong the life of the wood – whether it is cedar, hardwood or redwood.
- Noise – Buildings, fences and planters can be a help here.
- Fire – Do you need to meet fire code specifications
- Air Circulation is important under a deck: composites and even lumber need ventilation under the deck... ask for specifics.