One of the challenges that we often face with higher walk-out decks is placement of the long staircase. When a deck is 7’ to 9’ above grade the staircase can be 16’ or longer, so we must be careful to place it in a location that is most useful without negatively affecting the flow of the backyard. When planned carefully, it can often do double duty as a privacy screen.
The upshot of a high above-ground deck is that you can easily double your living space by finishing the area under the footprint of the deck. This allows two usable spaces to enjoy - an upper deck area for enjoying the warm sun, and a covered lower area for shade when it gets too hot. But what about if it rains?
The best part of finishing the area under your deck is that it can be waterproofed. We can install a waterproofing layer in the framing area that will divert the water away from the house into a gutter. There are a few impressive systems out there and Trex Rain Escapes is one of them. See http://www.trexrainescape.com/ for more information. We prefer the membrane type of systems that are installed before the decking is screwed down.
We only use membrane systems for the following reasons:
- They are more customizable to fit different shapes of decks.
- You can add can lights, fans, speakers to the ceiling.
- You can choose the ceiling finish and the product that you would like.
- The deck surface remains level and does not need to be pitched.
- The ceiling remains level and does not need to be pitched.
- You don't have to finish the ceiling at the time the deck is built. You can hold off until later date, or decide not to finish it at all.
- It tends to work better and gives our clients more options.
If you have a walk out basement, this is a great way to add more space to the underside of your deck and give you an additional, usable dry space. Now you can enjoy the outdoors even when it rains, and you won't even have to move your cushions or furniture at the first sign of drizzle.
Keep this option in mind if you have a higher deck even if you don’t plan to use the area underneath at this point. Leave yourself the option to do it down the road if you choose to.