In the construction of a deck homeowners tend to spend most of their money and energy on the deck framework, decking, railing system and steps. One key vertical element is often neglected – the skirting.
If your deck is high enough that you can see the framing structure, then it would be a wise decision to add skirting for several reasons.
1. The underside of a deck can be distracting and unsightly with its large beams, joists and support posts.
2. The ground surface underneath the deck can become a problem area. Weeds have the ability to grow almost anywhere. Rainwater that seeps through the decking can become standing water in depressions underneath the deck and breed mosquitoes.
3. Small animals such as skunks and racoons might decide to set up residence under the deck because it is so accessible and conveniently close to sources of water and food.
Spreading landscaping fabric over the area under the deck and covering it with a layer of gravel or crushed limestone screenings can eliminate the growth of weeds and the breeding grounds for insects. The planting of shrubs or hedges can be done to hide the deck framework but this will not prevent animals from taking up residence on your property. A well built skirt around the deck perimeter would represent a better alternative.
In some ways the deck skirting may be the most visible deck feature. It can easily become an element that will enhance the look and style of your deck. It could also become a means by which you can create storage space and an access point to the deck underside.
There are a number of styles and material choices available for skirting a deck. However, it is necessary to first create a nailing surface for all parts of the deck skirt (top, bottom and sides). Using 2x4s or 2x2s to create this framework is a practical solution construction wise and money wise. Once the skirt framework is fastened in place the actual skirt material can be installed. Privacy plus lattice is one inexpensive choice. The only drawback with lattice is its lack of strength when it is hit by lawnmowers, soccer balls, etc. In addition an aggressive small animal like a skunk or racoon can find a way to create an entrance opening in lattice.
A better alternative would be 1×6 vertical boards nailed or screwed into place to form a much stronger shield against any form of animal invasion. If the skirting area is higher than normal and a solid skirting of 1x6s would look like the Great Wall of China, another skirting alternative would make better design and style sense. For example, if the skirting was to be 3 feet high then the lower 2 feet might be enclosed with 1×6 vertical boards while the upper foot would be enclosed with privacy plus lattice. This would soften the effect of the 1×6 boards and add an extra bit of drama to the deck.
In order to make all or part of the underside of the deck into a storage area or access point it is simply a matter of creating a hinged access door or panel in the framing of the deck skirt.
Skirting may add additional expense to a deck budget, however it can easily become an accent feature that will greatly improve the overall look of the deck.
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of “How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish”. To Discover More About
Deck Skirting and Claim your 2
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