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How To Plan For a Deck Extension or Deck Renovation

When your existing deck isn t providing the space or comfort your family needs, it s time to start planning a deck extension or deck renovation. This home improvement project builds on the existing structure to create the ideal outdoor living space. You ll be faced with unique challenges on this project, including building permit applications, design and removal issues. But with an experienced decking contractor, you should be well on the way to a beautiful backyard.

Design Considerations

Have a close look at your existing deck structure to assess whether or not an extension will be possible. The framing and posts need to be stable and secure, able to support the increased weight and larger surface of your new deck.

Pay close attention to the ledger board - the 2x8 or 2x10 board attached to the wall of your house. If this vital part of your framing is not securely mounted to the frame of your house, you ll need to do some renovation first. Unless the deck frame is freestanding, with posts supporting each corner of the ring joists, this piece of lumber will keep the entire side of your deck supported.

If you are looking to add another level to an existing deck, the existing framing is less important. However, now is the time to upgrade, repair or replace the framing to ensure your new deck is stable and ready to last for years. Inspect the framing for rot, cracking and general degradation that could affect structural stability.

Check out the piers or posts as well, keeping an eye out for the condition of the concrete, fasteners and wood. If your posts have heaved in the frost or you suspect the posts are not in peak condition, take the opportunity to replace all of the posts now. The contractor can prop the existing deck up, dig out and reset the concrete piers and reattach the posts all without dismantling the current deck.

Building codes state that deck posts or piers need to be sized properly to avoid heaving due to frost. Read through the local code and book an inspection if your deck is more than 24 off the ground. It s always a good idea to apply for a building permit, but even if you re constructing the deck without a permit, be sure to follow current building codes for a safe and secure structure.

Straight Deck Extensions

Perhaps you want to keep your deck at the same level, but need more space. Most times you ll need to remove the existing deck boards, build a second frame with posts and install decking across both surfaces. That will create a uniform look and allows you to upgrade to composite or vinyl decking, while using treated lumber framing.

The post diagram for a deck extension is drawn similar to a freestanding deck. That means your new deck will likely have more posts than your old deck, mainly because an extension cannot rely on the support of a ledger board. Be aware that posts are necessary and can be hidden by skirting and other deck finishes.

Moving stairs can be more difficult, since the grading will change from one part of your yard to another. The existing deck may work with a 12-rise stair, but once you move the deck out another 10 feet, you ll need to account for a slope up or down. The contractor can build a new set of stairs, complete with railing, lighting and any other features.

Railing Upgrades or Replacement

Replacing your existing railing is one of the simplest deck renovations. Most often the existing railing posts can be cut off at the deck surface, if it s not possible to reuse the posts on the new railing.

Let s assume you re upgrading from a standard wood picket railing to a low maintenance aluminum picket railing. The 4x4 posts can be cut off at the deck some contractors will do the extra work of cutting the posts off just below the joists, using a new deck board to patch the remaining hole. This provides a cleaner look, but does cost significantly more due to added materials and labor.

New aluminum railing posts are mounted directly to the deck surface. If your deck has treated deck boards, you ll need to use a spacer between the posts and decking to avoid the resulting chemical reaction. The picket sections may come welded together beforehand, although some are installed by component assembly. Choose the product that suits your budget and style, and be sure to ask your contractor which aluminum railing they would recommend.

Other Considerations for Deck Extensions

When adding to your existing deck, think about the balance between your lawn and the deck area. Be sure your deck extension doesn t overshadow the lawn or overtake the gardens. Walkout decks (any deck more than 5 feet off of the ground) provide a useable surface without detracting from the lawn, but they will shade the space underneath.

Although you may be tempted to try your hand at a DIY deck project, deck extensions almost always require an experienced contractor. The challenges of removing the existing deck, inspecting the framing and possibly attaching the new deck to the old are best handled by an expert. The pros will have the tools, knowledge and expertise to handle this tricky project that can shift directions at any point. Get the job done quickly and correctly by hiring your local decking contractor to handle your extension or deck renovation.

Planning for a deck extension or deck renovation requires careful inspection and thoughtful planning. You ll need to be sure the existing structure is sound, and think about how to properly remove any elements of the old deck that will be completely replaced (such as railings or stairs). Make sure the posts are stable and that your entire deck will meet local building codes. It s best to hire a local decking contractor to take on this project, since they have the expertise and experience required to handle the challenges. Your new outdoor living space will be everything you ve dreamed of when the deck extension is installed by a pro.

Posted by: diana
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