Last week, we talked about adding new shutters as a simple and cost-effective way to beautify your home this spring. This week, let’s explore another idea to make your home a more enjoyable place to live (and a more attractive option for potential homebuyers, too): a new deck. With spring on the horizon, now is the time to consider whether this could be the right choice for your next home improvement investment.

Why Add a New Deck to Your Home?

If you enjoy hosting family and friends, adding a new deck to your property is a no-brainer. And decks increase your home’s livable space (at a fraction of the cost of a home addition, by the way), which is a major plus for large families and families who just enjoy having their own space to relax. And they can make spending time outdoors, with or without company, much more enjoyable not only during the summer but in the cooler months of spring and fall, too.

When adding a new deck, there are two major considerations you’ll want to think on: where to have the deck built, and what kind of material to use. These factors depend on the style of your home and your lifestyle. This week, we’ll focus on placement. Next week, we’ll talk materials.

Deciding on Where Your Deck Should Go

When deciding where to have your deck built, start by examining the layout of your home. Consider how traffic flows in and out of different rooms, and use that knowledge to help you rule out potential sites for adding an exterior door to access a deck. For example, houselogic.com notes that, “The ever-handy back door to the kitchen probably won’t do the job; it will force traffic toward the cooking area, making a shambles of any large-group entertaining. A better solution is a French door or slider that gives primary access from a living room, dining room, or family room while being handy to the kitchen.” Your enjoyment of your deck depends in large part on how it creates or stifles movement throughout your home. Think carefully about what makes the most sense for your home’s layout.

If you live in a split-level style home, you’ll want to consider what portion of the outdoor space around your downstairs entry door and exterior back wall will be compromised by the addition of a deck. Be sure to consider the placement of water spigots, hoses and vents you may need to access regularly. Although you can still gain access to these items if they are under your deck, it may be more convenient to add extenders to your garden hose for summertime use.

Your deck will obviously be situated in your yard, so consider the size of your property when deciding on what size you’ll want your deck to be. A tiny deck in a vast lawn looks a little funny, but a gigantic deck in a small yard can not only look silly but compromise much-needed yard space. Check into local ordinances, too–there may be limitations on what size deck is allowed on a given property.

The size of your deck will also determine the types of activities you’ll enjoy there, so think about what main purposes you have in mind. If you’re planning on grilling outside at large gatherings, consider that you’ll need space for the grill and space for your guests. If relaxation is your top priority, consider what size and shape will be best to accommodate lounge chairs that aren’t too close to the entrance to your home. No one needs to hear the dishwasher or vacuum going while trying to get their tan on. And if you’re just hoping for regular al fresco family meals, be sure that your deck is the right size to fit a table and chairs comfortably.

Lastly, a crucial consideration from houselogic.com: “Also consider the path of the sun and the location of shade trees; sunlight may be pleasant in the morning but unbearable later in the day — having a shade tree to the west of your deck will help block the harsh late-day sun”

If a new deck could be the right choice for your family, start thinking on these options. Next week, we’ll delve into what materials you should choose to make your backyard haven dreams a reality!