Decks have become important components in outdoor living, with virtually limitless options that extend to deck designs for hot tubs, pools and more. I recently conducted an interview on the topic with an expert in the field, Lawrence Winterburn. The results of the interview are contained in the following Q&A:
Pool Deck Design
Q. Pool deck design features a number of possible materials: concrete, stone, tile, etc. In browsing through your deck design portfolio, I see some beautiful examples of pool deck design using wood. Why did these clients choose wood as a material? And as the builder, what steps did you take to make these pool decks slip-resistant?
A. Concrete and wood are a similar price for basic details. Tile is slightly more expensive and only suitable for frost-free climates. Stone can range upwards of $80/sf installed, depending on product and installation method. There are additives that you can put in solid stain nowadays that will give a non-slip surface. Stained wood with spaced joints is normally quite slip resistant. The wood has a texture to the surface. There are really only 2 things that will dictate choice: budget and suitability.
Deck Design and Privacy
Q. Privacy screens can be a nice addition to a deck design, and you provide some examples in your portfolio. Please relate to us some of the considerations that might go into installing a privacy screen on a deck (e.g., keeping a balance between providing screening without totally shutting out the outside world). I’m assuming clients seeking optimal screening would choose what you term a “gated” deck design, which appears to be a walled-in deck.
A. Let's look at two examples. The first deck screen offers shelter from the sun and prying eyes at the road… the second deck screen offers passive screening from neighboring homes. Many people ask for solid deck screens, but we try to add some architectural interest. When it is absolute shade that is required I’d prefer to use curtains or live plants or lath type of material for more privacy -- without making the area feel claustrophobic.
Deck Design and Hot Tubs
Q. Please walk us through a typical client-builder consultation regarding a deck design with a built-in hot tub. What special considerations does such a deck design demand?
A. Standard -- an area roughly 12x12 minimum will be set aside in the deck design for the hot tub. The tub should be placed so that it is not on display to the neighbors, and within easy reach of a dwelling entrance.
Really, aside from the tub being placed well, screened from view, and easy to get in and out of without being pinched traffic-wise, designing in a hot tub is a pretty simple part of the deck design. The hot tub can be level to the deck, but I like to have it up about 18”.
It is cozy to have the hot tub flanked by benches surrounded by a semi-open privacy screen with a pergola above it. If it is within access of children the hot tub needs a locking lid. The hot tub should be placed on a level slab -- atop undisturbed soil obviously.