The Buffer Zone
A deck can be the solution to a problem yard, whether that means an uneven grade, a rocky outcropping, or, as in the case of this seaside lot in Carpinteria, California, shifting sands. The deck, which spans the area from the rear of the house to the edge of the beach, not only provides a solid foundation underfoot, but also a transition between the order of the house and the rough-and-tumble world outside. Because the punishing elements—salt spray, in particular—can be murder on a deck, the homeowners and their designer, Kathryne Dahlman, used materials that would stand up to the harsh environment. Weather-resistant composite boards, which are manufactured from recycled sawdust and plastic, were one choice they considered, but ultimately the family wanted the feel of real wood. So Dahlman specified redwood planks installed with a quarter-inch of extra space to allow rain and water tracked onto the deck to drip between the cracks. The extra breathing room also allows the boards to expand and contract with changing temperatures and humidity.