Six low-cost ways to improve your deck

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A new, rebuilt, refurbished or redecorated deck adds new life to the outdoor spaces of the home, especially heading into summer (official start, June 20). | ARACONTENT PHOTO

Whether you are looking for a way to increase the marketability of your home, or simply looking for a way to make your outdoor space more enjoyable, a deck remodel adds living space to your home and value to your house.

And if you start your project now, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it during the warmer months.

Home remodeling is projected to pick up steam by year’s end, according to a recent report by the Remodeling Futures Program at Harvard University. If you’re one of the many considering a home remodeling project, a deck remodel is a simple project that offers more than a 60 percent payback, according to Hanley-Wood’s Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report for 2011-12.

Another nice thing about a deck remodel is you can either go all out with a complete redesign, or pick and choose a few small projects that can have big effects in upgrading your outdoor living space. And whichever way you slice it, a deck remodel usually ends up being a lot less expensive than remodeling your kitchen, living room or basement.

1. When you decide to remodel your deck, one of the first decisions you’ll make is what type of material to use for the job. Consider both wood and composite decking, how much maintenance and upkeep you have time to do, and relative cost.

2. Once you’ve chosen your material, it’s time to decide on the layout. Do you like the existing design of your deck, or are you looking to add a level for a little more dimension? Meet with a deck builder, who specializes in outdoor spaces to go over your plans and get a cost estimate, or visit the Design & Build section at (a composite decking company) to use their free tool that facilitates designing your own deck.

3. Updating the rails on your deck is another great option to add fresh life to your outdoor oasis. New railings offer a way to add color, dimension and character to your deck. Plus, quality railings are needed for safety around higher level deck elevations. This can either be done in concert with a complete remodel, or as a smaller side project if your current surface is still in good shape.

4. Since your deck connects you to the outdoors and allows you to comfortably enjoy your backyard, consider bringing nature a little closer by adding plants. Deck builders are craftsmen who can easily add built-in planters, bench seating and lighting as part of your remodel.

5. Then hit the garden store to browse their selection of potted plants, weather-resistant seating and umbrellas. If you already have furniture, adding colorful new pillows or painting wrought iron furniture is often all you need to add new life to your space.

6. Lighting also makes evenings more enjoyable and promotes a festive atmosphere or can set the mood just right for a peaceful, relaxing night on your deck.

By updating your deck, you’ll be able to enjoy a nice, comfortable outdoor living space and know that you’ll be increasing the attractiveness and value of your home in the process.

— Provided by ARAContent