Building or renovating an outdoor deck
Building or renovating an outdoor deck a deck that fits your budget and extends your outdoor life throughout the seasons
Your living space is not confined on the inside of your home. Beyond the walls and windows of your home lies a paradise of fresh air, natural light, plants, and flowers-your backyard or side yard. The best way to tie these to living space is with an outdoor deck.
Think of a deck as the perfect segue from inside to outside. A deck elevates users from the ground and provides a unique vantage point to your property and beyond. Decks also can be a centerpiece of outdoor social life, a gathering place for barbeques, parties, or even restful solitude.
Decks are a great way to add space to your property. Extending your outdoor living seasons, basically, make your home larger. TMDC Group, one of the best home renovation Toronto that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their project, explains what you need to know about building or renovating an outdoor deck in Toronto.
Type of decks
- Freestanding decks
Freestanding decks also called floating or ground-level decks, hug closer to grade than do attached decks. This type of outdoor deck can be built alongside the house or anywhere within the yard. In many municipalities, building permits aren’t required for outdoor deck designs less than a certain height above grade (often 30 inches) and not build over a basement or lower story. The deck area may not be part of an accessible route to either of these lower areas. The deck, though, should adhere to all applicable building codes.
- Attached or fixed decks
Attached or fixed decks are more elaborate structures than freestanding decks. They rise over a minimum height, require special footings, use guards and handrails, and are attached to the home with a ledger board. Due to the complexity of this deck design, most homeowners will hire a contractor or other professional to build an attached deck.
Attached deck better integrate with the home, too, than freestanding decks.
The steps to building or renovating a deck in Toronto
Building a new outdoor deck will involve all of the following steps, while renovating a deck may require only part of the process, usually, it takes between one and three weeks to build a new deck, though preliminary step (such as digging holes for the footers) may have occurred earlier.
- The homeowner meets with the deck builder to discuss their vision for the deck. The builder will help advise the homeowner on appropriate styles and designs.
- A detailed blueprint is drawn up and materials are priced out so that the homeowner has a solid cost estimate.
- The builder to the building department submits deck plans. Technicians visit to mark the site for underground services.
- The site is prepared by staking out string around the outline of the deck. Any necessary sod is removed.
- After the position of the piers and footers is established, holes are dug and the piers and footers are set. The ledger board is installed on the house. Support posts are installed, followed by beams and joists.
- With the general structure established, decking boards are nailed in place and then trimmed.
- Additional features such as stairs railing are added.
- If needed, the deck is stained and sealed for durability.
The lower, structural part of the deck is determined by code requirements and is usually made of pressure-treated lumber. However, there are several options available for the top deck. Removing old deck materials from an existing deck and replacing them is one way to renovate a deck. This reduces costs since the entire outdoor deck structure does not need to be rebuilt.
Wood composites are created from recycled plastics and wood fibres. They are favoured due to their softness underfoot and durability. Wood composite decks do not need staining or sealing, either initially or at any point in their lifespan. Composites’ colours can fade over time, especially in sunnier areas. While composites are low-maintenance, they are not maintenance-free. Like other decking materials, they must periodically be clean of moss, mold, and mildew, especially if the deck is shaded.
The fibreglass deck material is very popular now. It can be painted or stained and it lasts forever. Slip-resistant fibreglass panels overlap to form a continuous solid surface, making it especially good when decking over a lower area that needs to stay dry. Fibreglass deck panels do not rot, rust, or harbour mildew. Which makes fibreglass decking ideal for high-moisture conditions.
- Tropical hardwoods:
LPE and tigerwood are but two of the many species of tropical hardwoods commonly used as decking materials. These dense woods are difficult to cut and drill, but this density also means that the decks’ longevity will surpass that of pressure-treated wood, redwood, and cedar. Despite being expensive, tropical hardwoods help both the deck and the home maintain value over the years, even into resale.
- Redwood and cedar:
Redwood and cedar are softwoods sourced mainly from western states. These materials offer a good compromise between expensive tropical hardwoods and pressure-treated wood. Imbued with natural tannins and oils, redwood and cedar do not require chemical preservatives.
- Pressure-treated wood:
The most economical choice is pressure-treated wood, usually southern yellow pine that is pressure-injected with chemicals that help the wood resist rot and wood-boring insects. One disadvantage to pressure-treated wood decking is that the wood splinters easily and isn’t safe for walking on with bare feet. Pressure-treated wood materials should always be coated on top to extend their durability. Because of these issues, pressure-treated wood has largely fallen by the wayside for upper deck materials, though it is always used for the lower structure.
The best time to build or renovate a deck in Toronto
Inclement weather offers little advantage to any type of building project. Tarping the deck during precipitation may improve conditions during construction, but crews usually work without the cover. Frozen ground can slow digging of the holes for the footers. While late spring, to mid-fall is the most comfortable work year-round. The trick to working through all seasons is to dig the holes for the footers in advance-before the ground freezes.
Average size and cost of decks in Toronto
Premium decks with full-service amenities similar to all-purpose outdoor entertainment areas range up to 2000 square feet in downtown Toronto but generally remain between 200 and 400 square feet. Deck size in downtown Toronto tends to be smaller but higher and multi-level averaging between 70 to 150 square feet. Cost ranges from $45,000 to $70,000, and near $130,000 to $180,000 when the deck sprawls and includes larger amenities, like a swimming pool. For general contractors, the average deck size is in the range of 25 feet by 14 feet, resulting in total square footage of 250 square feet. Deck-building costs are highly variable, depending on factors such as decking materials, condition of the site, grade, number of deck and height, along with special items like glass railings. Generally, expect decking material costs around $25 to $35 per square foot for composites or tropical hardwood like teak. Overall cost generally ranges from $30,000 t0 $39,000.
Regardless of how much outdoor space you have, a deck brings the joy of expanding you’re living and entertaining area. Understand the cost, timing, and material choices, and you’re being one step closer to your own patch of nature.