(ARA) - If you're thinking about making some home improvements this year, consider increasing the value of your home with the addition of a deck. A deck can give you more living space and bring the feeling of the great outdoors right to your back yard.
Whether you do-it-yourself or hire a pro, a deck can add long-lasting beauty and richness to your daily living. For many families, decks are the place that many memories begin.
Redwood has long been the decking material of choice because of its unsurpassed natural beauty -- nothing beats the look and feel of redwood for outdoor living! Redwood is also a popular choice for its classic low maintenance. It's easy to keep redwood looking like new, or perfectly okay to virtually ignore it and watch your deck take on a distinguished, gray weathered look.
Redwood has qualities not found in other woods. Redwood is still less likely to warp, shrink or crack than other woods, so redwood projects age beautifully.
Redwood is naturally resistant to insects, decay and fire. If you want your deck to feature the distinctive warm red color that attracts many consumers to redwood in the first place, it's easy. A stain or finish can enhance the color of a redwood deck while giving additional protection to the wood. Redwood contains little or no pitch, which means no other wood takes and holds finishes better.
If you choose to finish your deck, use a product that contains a water repellent, a mildewcide and ultra violet protection. The California Redwood Association Web site offers tips on finishing redwood as well as complete plans for decks, gazebos and outdoor furniture to help make sure all your back yard projects come out looking great.
By choosing redwood, you'll discover the advantages of working with a quality building material. Redwood is soft and strong, so it's easy to saw. To avoid splitting, pre-drill holes for nails or screws at the ends of the decking boards. Always use top-quality, hot-dipped galvanized, stainless steel or aluminum hardware to keep nail rust stains from forming on the deck over time.
Redwood also cleans up easily. Sweep it free of debris and dirt, and occasionally wash off mildew. If you like to barbecue, it's a great choice -- grease comes out with any number of commercially available products.
Planning the Deck
A beautiful, versatile redwood deck can enhance your lifestyle and create a perfect environment for relaxing or entertaining. Equally important, a deck is a long-term investment that increases the resale value of your home. Here are some basic planning, design and building tips for the deck of your dreams.
Ask yourself some creative questions so you're sure to get the deck you want. How much sunlight will your deck receive at different times of the day and at different times of the year? Do you want all sun, all shade or a combination of both? Do you have outdoor furniture that should fit on the deck? Would you like built in benches? Will there be room for potted plants or planters? What about a grill?
Seek deck building ideas and advice from libraries, book stores and home centers. And while it is a project you can do on your own, you may want professional advice. If a deck is over six feet, you need special bracing; a contractor can help ensure you meet building and zoning codes; an electrician can help with wiring and lighting, should you decide to install it.
Consider the landscape surrounding the deck area. Shrubs, trees, walkways and ground cover all play an important role in how the deck functions and looks. Even raised decks require some sort of ground cover beneath.
Environmentally Friendly Building Material
Redwood is an excellent choice for green living. Redwood is a renewable resource grown and harvested in accordance with some of the highest environmental standards in the world. In fact, California's redwood forests are managed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and redwood products store carbon, the most talked about greenhouse gas, for hundreds of years.
Old-growth redwoods -- trees that can be more than 1,000 years old, are protected in public parks and preserves and roughly 95 percent of land that was redwood forests when European settlers arrived on the West Coast is still redwood forest today. The redwood used for decks and other outdoor projects comes from younger trees on privately managed forestlands where state and federal laws protect water quality, conserve wildlife habitat, and ensure sustainability -- meaning that redwood forests will stand tall for generations.
Redwood and other wood products also require far less energy to produce than alternative building materials like concrete or plastic, making wood an excellent choice for green building.
Visit www.calredwood.org for more information about building with redwood and easy to follow building plans for Redwood projects.
Courtesy of ARAcontent