Don't leave your deck out in the cold – take the advice of our local experts to create a trendy and functional outdoor space
This deck capitalizes on the stunning view of Alaska's Turnagain Arm. Built by Treeline Construction the deck features Trex Accents in Saddle color with Feeney Cable-Rails wrapped in cedar posts topped with stainless steel post caps and a Trex Accents top rail.
Story by Randi Jo Gause
If you're not playing with a full deck, you're missing out on the opportunity to maximize the use of your outdoor space – and extend Alaska's brief summer. Today's deck trends are fusing function with aesthetics while offering an extension of your indoor space – with a taste of the outdoors.
"Deck trends are moving towards overall sustainability of the whole project," explains Derrick Jabaay, owner of Treeline Construction. "People want to create a deck that will serve a purpose and last for decades."
Make (Outdoor) Room
A little exterior deck-orating can go a long way toward enhancing the functionality of your deck. Create an inviting, comfortable space by bringing indoor elements outdoors, and transform your deck into anything from a kitchen and dining area, to a reading or meditation retreat.
"People are valuing their outdoor space more and using that space to their advantage," explains Jabaay.
The market for outdoor furniture has increased substantially in the past few years, including new easy-to-clean and weather-resistant furniture lines from reputable companies like Trex.
And the trend hasn't stopped at furniture. From grills and cooktop surfaces, to cabinets and countertops, today's market offers plenty of accessories to make your outdoor space feel like home.
"On a porch, you can add a rug and furniture with heaters, and it can be quite cozy," describes Stacey Dean, owner of Grayling Construction. "…A porch swing is always nice if you have a roof."
Tough and beautiful, moisture-resistant MoistureShield composite decking is made from 95% pre- and post-consumer recycled content for an environmentally friendly decking option. Available through Rivers Wood Products.
Dean describes one homeowner that even added paintings on the wall. "There are couches and a floor rug along with coffee and end tables. They have flowers on the tables. The space is now defined and feels very comfortable for longer use in the year."
Making the most of Alaska's unpredictable summer sunshine also means dealing with a bit of cloudy, rainy – and sometimes even snowy – weather as well. Take cover outside with a partial or fully covered deck to shelter your family from the outdoor elements.
"The use of a porch (deck with a roof) can really give you more time outside when you have somewhere to be out of the rain," explains Dean.
Light the way to your outdoor retreat with innovative deck lighting options that extend deck usage into the dark winter months. From modern wall and accent lighting, decorative rope lighting, safe and stylish step lighting, or seamless post cap lighting, homeowners are bound to find a lighting choice that matches their deck style.
Decks aren't all about looks – it's what's inside that counts. Homeowners are taking this sentiment to heart with deck material and color trends in favor of natural, eco-conscious materials.
"Paints are out," Jabaay emphasizes, especially given the maintenance required in Alaska's environment. Homeowners are giving up paints in favor of composites and synthetic decking material, which fuse wood and plastic. Synthetics also allow you to choose from a spectrum of colors without the cost and time associated with painting and maintaining wooden decks.
"We're seeing the synthetics – Trex and Timbertech, to name a couple – come in several different colors, so you can make them complement your existing trim on your house," says Dean.
Designed for use on posts, floors and steps, the new Trex Deck Lighting creates a dimmable glow that sets the mood and keeps your deck illuminated. The lights operate for up to 40,000 hours and use 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent lighting.
Still, wood continues to be one of the most popular choices in decking material. While there are many great choices, a Brazilian hardwood called Ipe is dominating the market, offering a unique and durable alternative in shades of red and dark brown.
"Ipe is our favorite wood," says Dean. "It's very low maintenance and easy to care for. Oiling once a year is the only requirement. It is hard enough to withstand marks from dog claws. It's also dense enough to not show ketchup stains or other foods landing on the deck."
Deck choices aren't all black and white. As paints are on the decline, homeowners are looking at alternatives for color selections when using real wood. Many are opting to maintain the natural color of the wood, but adding interest by constructing decks using a hybrid of material and color.
"When you use different colors and even different materials on the same deck (such as yellow cedar for the deck surface and red cedar for railing), you can really bring something special and unique to your project," explains Douglas Scherzer, general manager of Rivers Wood Products.
While deck railings are functional when it comes to both safety and aesthetics, they can also obstruct your view of the scenic landscape, and can make for an unintended eyesore. Obtrusive wooden railings and balusters are being replaced in favor of more functional – and aesthetically pleasing – counterparts.
"People are getting away from traditional 2" x 2" railings," Jabaay explains, "and moving towards metal rails, such as stainless steel or metal rails with powder coated finish, mixed with glass or cable."
Cable railings in particular are gaining popularity, and offer a transparent view with minimal cleaning.
"CableRail is no maintenance, doesn't block your view and you can shovel the snow right through it," explains Scherzer.
With all the new materials and design trends in decking, be sure to consult with an experienced deck builder before you build your deck. You will enjoy your deck for many years to come if it is built properly and designed to fit your lifestyle.