Deck/Porch/Outdoor Living

1st Place Winner
Architects Plus, Cincinnati, Ohio

Second Place:
Sun Design Remodeling Specialists Inc., Burke, Va.

Third Place:
Devon Remodeling & Construction Co., Wayne, Pa.

There was a time when a deck was just that, a deck. Today, the advancements in design, functionality and durability of materials have spawned thousands of deck replacements around the country. In this project, Architects Plus helped a family replace their deck that had begun to turn moldy, green and slippery when wet. The new deck is slightly larger, provides three distinct living spaces for relaxing and entertaining, and instills a richer more luxurious feeling.

The design team found solutions for several challenges. First, the previous deck sat on a steep slope and as much as possible the team needed to make use of the existing piers. The new design used all existing piers and two new piers. Second, 2-in. by 2-in. wood spindles on the previous deck needed to be replaced with an equally strong alternative, but one that did not cut down on views of the surrounding greenery. The solution was a custom-designed wrought-iron fencing with spindles of 3/4 in. by 3/4 in. Lastly, a step from one deck level to another created a safety issue that needed to be addressed. Built-in planters positioned at key points on the deck signaled the transition to new, distinct spaces.

Although there are a number of maintenance-free, nonwood decking products available, Architects Plus selected Ipé, an extremely dense, tight-grained wood, with a deep rich brown hue, and used a blind-fastening system. Over time, Ipé turns a soft silver color, and is said to resist commonly known problems of shrinking, splintering, twisting, cupping and checking.

Further adding a touch of class to this project are the brass railings and newel posts. The newel-post caps chosen included under-mount lighting to help define the space and give the spaces a warm glow in the evening.

The new shape of the deck is perhaps its best attribute. It was designed to include a focal viewing area, a main seating area, and a smaller seating area off the kitchen.

The design team summarized the project this way. “All of these design elements created a more attractive outdoor living area while enhancing the surrounding views.”

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