Your Place: Spend the cooler days designing a dream deck

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

I know, I know, the start of winter is only a little more than a month away. Unless you live in Florida or the Southwest, your deck is not high on your to-do list right now.

Not so at Trex, which produces low-maintenance composite decking and where decks are a year-round priority.

Since prep work is a big part of the process of sprucing up your outdoor-relaxation space for next spring or designing a new deck from scratch, a lot can be accomplished when the weather is cool.

Here’s a game plan, courtesy of Trex’s experts:

The internet is a good place to get your creative juices flowing. Start by perusing the outdoor-living projects posted on websites such as Houzz and Pinterest. For more inspirational images and information, check the sites of home and garden magazines, contractors, and decking manufacturers.

Designing a deck starts with the same questions as planning indoor rooms. Decide whether it will be used for relaxing, grilling or socializing.

To determine how to incorporate those activities into your space, explore the possibilities with online tools. To try out the ones on Trex’s website, go to goo.gl/2K5RlJ. They provide the details of a deck’s dimensions and the materials needed, so you can experiment with layouts that will help create the space you’re envisioning.

You can also check out the types of design elements that are available for customizing a deck — built-in seating, planters, and storage, as well as accompanying features such as pergolas or outdoor lighting. All are options that could add to your comfort, the character of the deck, and its convenience.

Give careful consideration to the deck’s railing, one of its more visible parts. It, too, can be a source of design inspiration.

To ensure that dream deck of yours remains within reach, keep costs in mind. When evaluating expenses, think beyond the initial material and labor costs and peer into the future. That, of course, includes the costs of maintaining the deck down the road. Depending on how much upkeep you want to handle year to year, make your choice: wood vs. composite.

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