Creating the Ultimate Deck Designs for Entertaining

Outdoor entertaining provides opportunities to socialize and spend time with your loved ones. Summer backyard parties are common across every suburb in America. And those who love to throw a good party need a good place to host. Creating a deck design for entertaining involves a long list of unique features and distinct materials that provide a comfortable, functional area for get-togethers.

Must Have Features

Deck designs for entertaining need to include adequate space for your guests. An average sized patio dining set requires about 144 square feet of space (12 feet long by 12 feet wide), but parties call for more seating and extra tables. You'll need to have at least two open areas measuring 144 square feet, possibly connected and at different levels.

Multi-level decks provide the ideal shape - two areas to gather at dining tables with a built in step that provides casual seating for a crowd. They also help to naturally direct traffic and create a feeling of multiple rooms. If you don't have the space for a multi-level deck, consider installing a small stone patio around your single level deck to create the same effect.

Comfortable surfaces are also important, especially when those backyard parties happen around a pool. Although treated wood decks remain the most affordable option, other deck materials provide a smoother surface with little chance of splinters. Composite decking offers a low maintenance alternative that retains a cool temperature for walking on and safer traffic, even in bare feet. And high quality vinyl decking is smooth and comfortable.

Besides plenty of room for seating and comfortable walking surfaces, a dream entertainer's deck includes:

  • Food preparation - Consider a built in BBQ or a full outdoor kitchen, complete with plumbing, natural gas and electricity. This can be as simple as setting up your grill in the corner or as involved as building an entire deck dedicated to food prep. Stone plays a major role in this feature, often used to create countertops and heat-resistant surfaces. Cabinets, to store utensils and other items, can be made from wood to match the decking or assembled from pre-made cabinets and trimmed in.
  • Shade - Although basking in the sun remains a favorite summer pastime, your guests need plenty of shade for a more enjoyable, healthy experience. Think about the different ways to shade the “rooms” on your deck, including awnings, pergolas, sun sails and gazebos. Some shade structures can be removed in the winter, letting in more natural light, while others become a permanent fixture of the deck. Screen in a gazebo to keep the sun away and the bugs out, creating a comfy spot for your guests.
  • Lighting - Landscape lighting extends your time on the deck and keeps the party rolling long into the evening. Think about incorporating low voltage light fixtures into deck stairs and railing posts. These flush-mount lights provide decent coverage for comparatively small amounts of energy, and can be fitted with a photocell for automatic operation. For an eco friendly deck lighting solution, add solar lights in the garden or on railing caps. Popular landscape lighting fixture designs include lanterns, wall mounts, puck lights, flat LED fixtures, and track lighting.
  • Backyard Fire Pits/Fireplaces - Campfires create distinct memories, and every summer party should include gathering around a cozy fire. Consider whether a traditional fire bowl will suit your deck design, or invest in a luxurious outdoor fireplace for a truly upscale look. Remember to protect the deck surface with a heat resistant pad or by creating a stone inlay in the decking.

Location, Location, Location

It makes sense to have your deck attached to the dining area or family room, but it may be wiser to install an entertainer's deck off the kitchen for convenience. Depending on the floor plan of your home, you may need to add a sliding patio door or man door to the kitchen for quick, easy access. The main entry/exit from house to deck might be connected to the dining or patio area, but a secondary entrance/exit at the kitchen helps keep food and beverage moving smoothly.

Small yards can have the ideal entertainer's deck, if only a scaled down version. Consider the amount of space your yard provides, and how much your deck design will cover. You may need to settle for a single level deck with room for a patio dining set (144 square feet, or so) and a built in shade structure. Use space saving designs to add extra seating, such as bench railings or deep, wraparound steps.

Laying a stone patio around the deck also provides an area for a fire pit or BBQ. Play with the space you have to create an entertainer's paradise in the backyard.

Safety Issues

Always follow local building codes when designing your deck, including the minimum framing requirements, stair design and railing heights. These limitations ensure the safety of your guests and create a deck design built for seasons of fun.

Railings can serve a double purpose on deck designs for entertainers. For additional seating, install benches with high backs for a railing/seating combination. For added surfaces and comfort, make sure the railing cap is wide enough to set your drink down and sturdy enough to lean on. Consider incorporating landscape lighting into the railing, or installing privacy screens to keep out prying eyes when more intimate parties are on the schedule.

Deck designs for entertainers include plenty of seating, room to mingle and a comfortable surface. They should also incorporate shade, an area for food prep (such as a BBQ), landscape lighting and a fire pit. Whether you have an expansive lawn or a small yard, this type of deck provides room for a crowd and the perfect opportunity to throw a summer party whenever the mood hits.

Posted by: diana
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