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From the editor: What I learned about backyard decks

The end of June concludes yet another month. Where does the time go? I hope you’ve been spending your free time outside, soaking up the sun and relishing the nice summer weather that’s come our way. Speaking of backyard, how’s your deck doing? If you’ve hired a decking contractor to build it, you’re ahead of the game. If not, here’s a round-up of what you should know.

Why you need a deck

Think about it – when you step out into your backyard, do you really want to see empty space, an outdoor property consisting of grass and that’s it? A deck can take your backyard to the next level. At least, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to after writing about decks for the past month!

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Your backyard doesn’t have to look like this. Check out our directory of deck builders to get your backyard renovation underway!

Have you ever hosted a dinner party where most of your guests congregated in the kitchen because it’s the place to be? The same goes for your yard. The deck is an attractive factor, it’s the place where people want to be when they’re outdoors.

Plus, having a deck gives you a place to go outside. Where else would you go and sit when you head out there? A lawn chair on the grass? That’s no fun!

These decks - complete with a BBQ and outdoor furniture - are ready for entertaining!

These decks – complete with a BBQ and outdoor furniture – are ready for entertaining!

When it comes to material, you have options!

At eieihome.com, we always advocate for staying on budget during any home renovation. The same goes for building a backyard deck. Whether you’re choosing to build it yourself or are hiring a decking contractor to do the work for you, there are a variety of materials to choose from that won’t break your budget. Here’s a quick overview of what they are and how  much they cost.

  • Pressure-treated wood. This type of material is one of the most popular decking options because it’s not only economical, but if you’re a DIYer, it’s an easy material to work with. The downside to it is it’s not 100% resistant to moisture. From time to time, you’ll need to apply a water repellent on the deck to prevent moisture damage.
  • Western red cedar. Cedar is one of the most visually-appealing decking materials on the market. Not only that, but when you walk in your backyard, you’ll get a nice whiff of the cedar too. It’s very pleasing to the senses. To top it all off, it’s insect and decay-resistant. You’ll be paying more money to have a cedar deck, but the cost could outweigh its longevity.
  • Cellular PVC. It’s a fancy word for plastic. That could be a significant downside if you’re looking to upgrade your backyard with a wood deck. If you can get over the fact that the decking material is synthetic, then you’ll be happy to hear it’s low-maintenance, scratch and stain-resistant, and is resistant to mould and mildew.
  • Composite decking. If you’re torn between the look of wood and the benefits of plastic, then composite decking could be perfect for you. It’s a mix of wood and plastic. It looks just like wood, but boasts the many benefits of synthetic material. You don’t have to paint it or worry about your dog damaging the surface with its nails.

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Here’s a cost breakdown

The decking material you choose should be based on both your needs and budget. But before we get to cost, think about how you’ll be using your deck, which could determine how much you want to spend.

  1. Will you be entertaining outdoors?
  2. Do you have a big family that will spend the summer outdoors?
  3. Are you looking for a quiet place to read?
  4. Do you spend your summers away at the cottage or on vacation?

The frequency that you use the deck – and how many people will be using it – should be factors in your decision. Now, about the cost…

MaterialCost per sq. ft.
Pressure-treated wood$25 to $35
Western red cedar$10 to $12
Cellular PVC$3 to $4
Composite$6 to $10

This is simply an estimate. If you’re building the deck yourself, I advise you visit your local hardware store to get an accurate price on materials. If you’re hiring a decking contractor, you’ll have to keep in mind cost for labour as well.

Get inspired by this guide to backyard deck designs:

When you’ve found a style that’s right for your backyard, consider giving the pros a call to help you out. Why? Building a deck on your own isn’t an easy feat. I wrote about it to educate people like yourself and let me tell you, I got confused just writing about it!

Make it stand out

If you’ve opted for a wood deck, there are a few extra steps you must take to get it ready in time for that backyard party. This makes a great DIY project – stain it!

When the deck is installed and ready to be stained, here’s what you do:

  1. Clear the deck of loose debris using a broom.
  2. After purchasing a cleaning solution from a local hardware store, apply the cleaner to the deck. Read the directions carefully, as each product has its own set of instructions.
  3. Apply the cleaning solution with a paint roller.
  4. Using a brush or broom, scrub the surface of the deck and let dry.
  5. Rinse it off after 10 minutes or so.

Get ready for staining

Staining is the fun part of having a deck. It gives you the opportunity to customize it according to your tastes. Opt for a dark cherry or oak colour – whatever suits your style.

If you need help choosing a colour, take a look at this guide:

Before you start staining, make sure the deck is fully dry!

  1. Sweep away loose debris.
  2. Prepare the stain. Some products require you to stir it before applying it to the deck.
  3. Use a paint roller to apply a thin, even coat to a few boards at a time.
  4. Switch to a hand paintbrush for hard to reach places.
  5. Let dry and enjoy!

The experts at SICO show us how to stain a deck:

Keep your deck looking fresh for longer

A deck is a big expense. In order to keep your deck looking beautiful long after a deck builder has built it for you, conduct this routine maintenance with every summer season:

  • Fix nail pops. Remove nails that are popping out of boards with a hammer. Use a screw that’s longer than the original nail to reattach the board.
  • Repair splits in the material. This will involve cutting out replacement boards to get rid of the damaged ones that are dangerous to be walking on. It’s a lot of work since you’ll need to measure and cut new boards, and fastening them to the existing deck.
  • Waterproof the deck. A waterproofing solution keeps rain, snow and dirt from penetrating the wood. It could do wonders for your deck in the long run.

The longer your desk lasts, the more valuable of an investment it becomes.

outdoor decks

It really transforms a backyard

Scott McGillivray, the expert in renovations, found his very own backyard needed a transformation. Watch this:

The final step to finishing off your deck…

Enjoy it! It’s as simple as that. I have a deck in my backyard and while I don’t do the maintenance work myself (thanks, dad!), I make use of what little summer we do get and make sure to spend time on the deck. You can do the same once you’ve hired a deck builder to build your dream deck! Scroll through our directory for contractors, read through reviews and find the right builder for your project.

More in Decks

Keep your deck looking fresh with these maintenance tips

DIY: Make your deck the focal point in your yard by staining it



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