Adding a deck or patio to a home adds living space and value. The project can also be an enjoyable spring or summer building activity.

“Decks and patios are great places for entertaining and barbecuing,” Grant County Building Supply owner Dan Averett said. “It’s a great place for the grandkids to play.”

Designing is the first step. Key factors include suitable location, weather considerations and how the deck or patio will be used. Stakes and string can be used to test drive a layout. Furniture can even be placed inside the outlined project to see how the deck will function.

Four feet of space should be provided around a table, for example, and while shade might be welcome on hot summer days, it might make a spot too cold in the shoulder seasons.

Decks and patios can be built around trees or shrubbery, privacy screens can be added in denser neighborhoods and awnings or lattice canopies can be used to block intense sunlight.

A multilevel deck can be a solution for sloped yards, and retaining walls can be used for paver-block patios. But homeowners should consult local rules and regulations, which might dictate structural elements as well as size. A homeowners association’s covenants also may have aesthetic guidelines for materials, finishes and even handrails.

Averett said Douglas fir and cedar are the most popular choices here for deck planking. He offers Sherwin-Williams SuperDeck stain to complete the job. To maintain the original luster of the stain, wood decks should be refinished twice a year for the first five years, he said.

An alternative is composite or synthetic materials. Trex, a popular decking product, comes in a variety of colors and styles, including a hidden fastener design. Trex also produces posts, rails and stiles for deck railing. Made from recycled plastic, Trex comes with an outer UV-resistant layer and never needs stain or preservatives.

“Trex is more expensive, but it cuts down on maintenance,” Averett said, adding that he chose Trex for the deck at his home in Canyon City.

An option to a deck is a ground-level patio made from paver blocks. Again, the first step is to design the layout. Homeowners should check local building codes and covenants before starting and check for underground utilities before digging.

A typical patio installation has several layers, including a 6-inch gravel base, a 1-inch layer of sand, paver blocks and polymeric/jointing sand to fill the gaps between pavers.

“Patios are more labor intensive,” Averett said. “But when they’re finished, you have another great outdoor living area. It also cuts down on weeding and adds to the appearance of the property.”

As with any construction, stakes, strings, levels and batter boards can be used to ensure the layout is square and level. Patios should slope gently away from a house for drainage purposes — about 1 inch per 4 feet.

If landscape lighting or other utilities are part of the patio design, they need to be installed per code after sod is removed and before gravel and sand base layers are placed.

A power compactor can be rented or a hand tamper can be used for small areas. A layer of landscape fabric should be placed beneath the base layers to block weed growth. Pavers and retaining wall blocks can be cut using a special concrete blade on a circular saw, but eye and ear protection is advised.

Patios and decks can be dressed up with adjoining landscaping or garden beds, bird feeders and fountains, innovative lighting and decorative railings. Then set up a grill, a dining table and outdoor furniture and invite over the neighbors or family to inaugurate the new addition.

Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at rick@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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