The Present

Compared with the humble decks of yesteryear, you almost want to give today's versions a more distinguished name. They have truly achieved outdoor room status, as multifunctional as any space under the roof. In warmer regions, decks are even challenging kitchens as the family's primary gathering place.

That heightened visibility has spurred a rapid sophistication in design. Today's decks integrate naturally with the house and surrounding property. The more elaborate examples have multiple levels, innovative shapes, and natural elements like rocks, trees, even running water incorporated into the design. The simple barbecue is now a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, with cooktops, warming drawers, refrigerators—everything plus the kitchen sink. Decks are places to unwind, too, with amenities from hammocks to hot tubs. About the only thing people don't want to do on their decks is maintain them. The last decade has seen a boom in wood alternatives. All-plastic lumber came first, followed by composites, which mix plastic with wood fibers. Synthetics currently account for about 15 percent of the decking material sold in this country.

Ask TOH users about Deck, Patio & Porch

Contribute to This Story Below