To Re-Deck or Build New, That is the Question

Its the weekend of the Des Moines Arts Festival

Des Moines Arts Festival 2010 Poster

Hopefully you’ve gotten a chance to get downtown for this great event.  Along those artful  lines, I’m going to take a Shakespearean approach to decking and address the re-deck/build new avenues for enhancing your outdoor living spaces…and focus on the re-deck option.

Is your existing deck functional for you?  Size-wise?  Functionally? 

Is your existing deck looking old and tired, particularly if its wood?  Are you struggling with the maintenance required to keep it looking “fresh?”

If you answered “yes” to most of those questions, a “re-deck” project may be the perfect way to enhance your outdoor living space.  A re-deck solution for your deck will be a less-costly solution than building a completely new deck structure.  However, the end result will look – and serve your outdoor living lifestyle – just as well as a new deck structure.

Besides the issues noted above, the key underlying issue on whether a re-deck solution will be appropriate is the structural condition of your existing deck.  Unfortunately, too many decks fail to meet our standards – or even the Des Moines area’s local building codes – for us to recommend a re-deck option.  In those cases, we’ll take the approach that you don’t want to throw good money after bad and recommend a completely new structure.  But, there are also decks that are well/satisfactorily structured and present an opportunity to improve its aesthetics and possibly lower your maintenance effort at the same time.

If your deck surface and railing is wood – old, splintered, cracked wood – but you like the look and natural ambience of a wood deck, new wood decking and railing can be installed.  This will not reduce the maintenance effort (we recommend a minimum 2-year cycle of cleaning-sealing/staining) but will certainly improve the aesthetics and add another 15 years (give or take, depending on your diligence to the maintenance effort) to your deck’s life.

Before/After Views of WDSM Re-Deck, 2010. Wood to TimberTech's TwinFinish Cedar decking and railing. Re-built staircase to code as well.

With the advent and success of lower-maintenance wood-alternative (composite, PVC) decking and railing products, the more popular solution is to migrate from wood (maintenance) to wood-alternative (lower-maintenance, no splinters…”party-ready” as I call it) decking and railing products.  Depending on the wood-alternative product you select, there may be some minor structural issues to address (joist spacing being the most common) but still at a cost savings over an entirely new deck structure.

Before/After Views of Adel Re-Deck, 2010. From wood to TimberTech's TwinFinish Grey composite and new staircase.

To be honest, most folks come to us because their existing decks aren’t functional for them – they need more space, they want more shade, they want to integrate a patio or a screen porch or some other structure into their outdoor living lifestyle….or a variety of other reasons.  So, traditionally we haven’t done a lot of “re-deck” projects.  But, economics being what they are recently, we are seeing more interest and have completed more re-decks where people are assessing the “trade-offs” and seeing the value of re-decking their existing deck structures.  And in nearly every case for us, that also comes with the migration to a wood-alternative, lower-maintenance product for both the decking and the railing.

Before/After views of Clive Re-Deck, 2007. Wood to Evergrain Classic decking and railing...most replaced by benches and wrap-around stairs to open up the deck to the yard.

It can be surprising to see what a vivid difference an Archadeck-styled re-deck – particularly when migrating to a wood-alternative product – can have on your existing outdoor living spaces and to the look of your home.  The three projects we’re showing throughout this post are some fine examples of this.  Two of these, one in West Des Moines, one in Adel, were completed this spring.  The other one is in Clive and is from three years back now.   This latter one is also a striking display of the difference between Archadeck’s approach to your project (whether new or a re-deck) from a design perspective and…someone else’s.  Although, hopefully you see – and prefer – some stylistic differences in all three of these projects.

Lastly, one more question to ask yourself when considering these projects…and maybe yours:  Do you think the house has better resale value / appeal with the before picture or the after picture?

Enjoy the home you’re in.  Start living outdoors.

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