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If you'd rather hide inside rather than hang out on your tired-looking deck, you need a deck makeover.
Here are five ways to transform your deck back to its fun self.
Dress up the transition from your deck to your yard with a little hardscaping -- a stone landing at the bottom of your deck stairs. Stones are a natural compliment to wood decks, and they’ll help prevent mud from forming where there’s heavy foot traffic.
Cost: Flagstone is priced by the pound; you’ll spend $60-$100 for enough stone for a 3-foot-by-4-foot landing.
How-to: Techniques for installing a landing are the same as putting in a patio , although you’ll have to temporarily support your existing stairway while you work around — and under — it.
What else: You should be able to add a landing in less than a day. It’ll get done faster if you hire a pro, but it’ll cost you another $150-$200 in labor.
Whether you’re relaxing alone au naturel or entertaining friends, a little home privacy is always welcome. You can add some vertical supports and fill in a variety of cool screening materials that are as nice for your neighbors to look at as they are for you.
Types and costs:
Bamboo fencing comes in a 6-foot-by-16-foot roll for $20-$25.
Lattice panels are either wood or plastic, $15-$30 for a 4-foot-by-8-foot panel.
Grow climbing plants on a trellis ($20-$100) to create a living privacy screen. Plant climbing vines in tall containers ($40-$120) to raise them above the deck surface and give them a head start filling in your screen.
Outdoor fabric resists moisture and fading; $12-$120 per yard. You’ll pay another $20 to have a seamstress cut and hem a 3-foot-by-5-foot panel.
How-to: Your privacy screen should integrate with your deck; make the framework using the same basic materials as your deck railing and structure.
Add some flash by building a frame with 2-by-2- or 2-by-4-inch uprights spaced 1 foot apart, then weaving aluminum flashing between the uprights.
What else: Make sure to position your privacy screen where you’ll get maximum benefit. Sit on your deck and check your lines of sight.
Add lighting to your deck if you're wanting your deck to come alive after dark. Try solar lights: you don’t need an on/off switch -- they light up when it gets dark, then fade away 4-6 hours later.
You won’t have to plug them in or wire anything, either. Their solar-charged batteries are renewed every day, and the lights are built to withstand all kinds of weather.
Types and cost:
Paper lanterns (made from synthetic, weatherproof nylon; $20-$30) are made for hanging and come in all sorts of fun shapes, sizes, and colors.
Carriage lights can be fixed on top of a pillar or railing newel post. $45-$150.
Solar illuminated replicas of old-fashioned mason jars can be set on any flat surface, about $35.
Rope lights have small LED bulbs inside a flexible cord. A 25-foot-long rope with solar charger and stand is $25.
What else: Suspend lanterns from overhead trellises, railings, and nearby trees, where they’ll shed a soft, colorful glow. Wind rope lights around rafters and railings.
Punch up a boring old deck with a faux rug. This is a fairly low-cost project with a big wow factor, and one you can share making with your (well-behaved) kids. It works best on a newly cleaned deck (see below).
Cost: Most of your cost will be deck stain or paint in various colors. Because you won’t be using that much stain per color, you can buy quarts. Figure $15-$20 per quart.
How-to: Figure out a size, sketch out the design on your decking, and then all you have to do is paint or stain between the lines. You can use painter’s tape as a guide, but a little leakage is likely on a wood decking surface.
What else: Keep a few basic cleaning supplies on hand for any drips or spills. After the stain is dry, coat the entire deck with a clear deck sealer.
The ultimate deck makeover is none other than a good cleaning. Applying a coat of deck sealant afterward ensures your wood decking looks great and will last for decades.
Cost: There are many brands of deck cleaning and brightening solutions. Some require the deck to be wet; others need the decking to be dry. Some are harmful to plants and you’ll have to use plastic sheeting to protect your landscaping. Consult the instructions carefully.
You’ll pay $15-$25 per gallon, enough to clean 300 sq. ft. of decking.
How-to: Scrubbing with a good cleaning solution and rinsing with a garden hose is more foolproof than scouring your decking with a power washer that may damage the surface of the wood.
What else: After you deck is cleaned, apply a coat of deck stain or clear finish. The sealer wards off dirt, wear, and UV rays, and helps prevent deck splinters. A gallon covers 250-350 sq. ft., $20-$35/gallon.