Adding a raised concrete deck can provide extra outdoor living space and enhance your home’s aesthetics. Unlike ground-level patios, raised decks promote better water drainage and allow you to customize the height. Concrete offers a durable and low-maintenance surface that can last for decades.
When planning your custom concrete deck, consider the size, layout, aesthetic design, required materials, and if you want to DIY or hire a professional. This guide will cover important factors when creating the perfect concrete deck.
Planning and Design Considerations
Carefully measure your yard’s dimensions before deciding on a shape and deck size. Imagine how you’ll furnish and utilize the space. Here are some key planning considerations:
Size and Layout
Consider the activities that will occur, then scale the deck size accordingly. For entertaining guests, allow ample space for patio furniture and clearance around any built-in features like firepits. If the deck is mainly for BBQ cooking duties, focus on traffic flow near the grill and access doors. Additionally, measure yard dimensions and locations of trees or other obstacles that impact placement. Consider optimal sun exposure and shady spots based on time of day when consolidating sitting areas.
Well-designed traffic flow enables people to comfortably access all areas of the deck. For example, ensure stairs or ramps align with entrance or exit doorways to promote movement. Eliminate narrow corners around built-in seating that could make navigating difficult. For rectangular decks, centrally locate stairs to avoid congestion. Consider if deck width allows people adequate space to pass each other.
Other Practical Factors
When arranging deck layout, identify attractive sightlines visible from the deck and align consolidated sitting areas to capture appealing views. Strategically position seating away from neighbors’ properties if seeking privacy. For decks used frequently at night, ensure ideal positioning to access electrical outlets so that lighting, speakers and other electrical amenities can be powered conveniently.
Concrete can be poured on site or purchased as precast pavers or slabs, each with their own look and installation method.
Types of Concrete
- Installed directly on-site to seamlessly follow planned design
- Enables customization including shaping, textures and colors
- Higher initial cost but very durable and low maintenance
- Pre-molded concrete blocks placed on prepared base
- Come in wide array of shapes, colors and textures
- Offer more DIY-friendly installation
- Premade solid concrete slabs installed onsite
- Available in modern, simple styles as well as stone-like textures
- Quick installation compared to poured concrete
When selecting materials, assess factors like:
- Local climate/freezing patterns
- Expected foot traffic and furniture loads
- Desired appearance – plain, colorful, textured
Framework and Foundation
Proper support structures enhance safety while allowing custom deck shaping and variable heights. Consult your local codes for exact requirements in your area.
Ledger boards secured to home exterior walls partly support the weight and loads connected decks must handle. Moisture-resistant lumber minimizes rotting. Make proper flashing connections during ledger installations to minimize moisture intrusions into the home exterior.
Beams should have adequate load-bearing size and spacing between posts to handle expected weights and dynamic loads without excessive bounce or sag when walking. Well-supported beams provide a stable feel. Pressure-treated woods are common beam material choice in many regions due to their outdoor durability.
Foundation materials like compact gravel, crushed stone, or cast concrete footings anchor deck support posts. The optimal choice depends partly on prevailing soil conditions. However, proper drainage below ground level is critical to prevent erosion or moisture damage.
Railings and Accessories
It’s easy to customize a basic concrete slab into a showstopper deck with railings, lighting and built-in features.
Railings provide safety and an enhanced styling detail. Glass panel, cable rail and metal pipe designs complement modern decks, while wood railings promote traditional charm. Follow code heights and spacing requirements.
Fun additions like planters, benches or stone fire bowls easily bolt onto poured concrete decks, letting you tailor the space to your needs.
Lighting not only enables nighttime use, but offers endless design options. From ground floor spotlights to pendant lamps dangling overhead, properly positioned lighting transforms plain concrete into a gorgeous focal point.
Hiring a Concrete Contractor vs. DIY
Installing a raised concrete deck requires some construction know-how, but offers ambitious DIYers a very achievable project. Here’s an overview of each method:
Hiring a Professional
Reputable concrete contractors efficiently handle complex site preparation tasks that require special equipment or skills. Services include operating earthmoving equipment like excavators and backhoes to reshape property grades and dig out base material that support a sturdy deck foundation.
Formwork construction expertise lets contractors build customized wooden frameworks that contain the concrete deck outline including curved edges or custom levels across sloping yards during the pour process. Workers also have specialized tools and techniques for evenly distributing liquid concrete to promote ideal curing results. Finishing work like adding color pigments, etching decorative patterns, or smoothing the top layer for optimal performance is best left to experienced crews.
Safety regulations require railing installations frequently demand working safely and efficiently at height. Throughout the process, concrete contractors also use specialized techniques that ensure proper concrete curing protocols for maximum strength and freeze-thaw resilience decades into the future. However, hiring professional services typically involves higher cost than self-directed installations. When pricing projects, homeowners should clarify exactly what is included.
Homeowners with proper plans for the structural specifications, building and carpentry skills can choose to undertake much of the construction themselves, saving potentially thousands over a hired contractor. The ability to adjust the project pace around personal schedule allows DIY builds to proceed slowly. Homeowners can also tweak small design details during the process to match preferences.
However, take care not to overlook critical path dependencies that impact overall timelines or structural integrity. Areas requiring caution or coordinated hiring of small contractors involve large excavations, building code specifications of elevated structures, and specialized finishing techniques for decorative concrete. Some municipalities require specific building process oversight and formal inspection approval for DIY decks above a certain square footage as well. Regardless, thoroughly review codes and obtain permits before commencing. Document key milestones and aspects with photographs along the way to chronicle fond memories for decades into the future.
Care and Maintenance
Taking time for proper concrete curing sets the stage for long-term durability. Sealing concrete periodically protects against freeze-thaw cycles in cold climates. Here are some key care tips:
Curing: After initial pour, allow concrete to harden slowly per manufacturer guidelines before heavy use, usually 5-7 days minimum or possible delamination and surface damage may occur. Avoid loading with furniture during this period.
Sealing: Re-application of concrete sealers every 2-3 years prevents intrusion from freeze-thaw cycles, road salts and other corrosive materials. Tinted varieties enhance color while protecting.
Cleaning: Yearly pressure-washing removes pollen, mildew and dirt buildup. Avoid abrasive chemical cleaners. Repair minor cracks to limit moisture intrusion and more severe damage.
Inspiring Raised Concrete Deck Design Ideas
Concrete as a landscape building medium offers versatility to achieve stunning results. Whether pursuing a sleek contemporary style or embracing charming traditional notes, concrete readily complements.
For a modern minimalist theme, consider a straightforward, contemporary rectangular deck silhouette showcasing fine grey tones inherent within some broomed concrete finishes. Adding narrow insets of ipe exotic hardwood within the solid concrete palette contrasts the visual drama while increasing aesthetic warmth.
Builders seeking rustic charm might choose a Sienna-colored concrete canvas to cloak the deck surface itself. Compliment this attire by dressing ornate cedar posts and beam accents integrated along the railing line. For good measure, occasional stone planter boxes placed at regular intervals reinforce the intended earthy look shared across elements.
Poured concrete also uniquely lends itself to graceful curves. Geometric rock-patterned tiles pave the expansive surface, providing a neutral backdrop so that attention remains on the built-in sectional seating and stone fire table combination; ideal for comfortably accommodating larger groups or family movie nights outdoors!
The common thread across these three possibilities points toward concrete’s versatility. With smart planning and quality construction, a properly built raised concrete deck delivers durable, low-maintenance enjoyment for years on end. Therefore, thoughtfully analyze intended activities alongside style preferences. Then translate top concepts into your personal oasis concrete manifestation friends and family relish equally.