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Kentucky deck designers share their secrets

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Deckadent Designs specializes in the design and construction of decks, porches, pergolas, and outdoor living spaces. The company has the latest in 3-D design software so homeowners can see exactly what their dream deck or other outdoor living space will look like before the first post is set.

Founded by Andy Hulette in 2002, Deckadent Designs has built all over Kentucky, including Campbellsville, Harrodsburg, and London. Hulette holds the distinction of being the only certified TrexPro Platinum deck builder in the state, meaning he has completed installation and product training on all Trex products and successfully met requirements to obtain the TrexPro designation.

Hulette’s tips for building an ideal outdoor living space
Maximize your space
Think about your deck in terms of different activities—and dedicate separate areas for relaxing, grilling, dining, and socializing. Consider creating a simple seating nook or an elegant outdoor bar. Structures like trellises, or even tall potted plants, can help establish settings for cozy conversations between guests, while a pergola may offer much-needed relief from the summer sun.

Go green
Opt for eco-friendly outdoor living products made of recycled materials. For example, Trex composite decking is manufactured of reclaimed wood scrap, as well as recycled plastic from grocery bags and common household packaging like sandwich bags and newspaper sleeves. The result is the beauty of tropical hardwoods without the environmental stresses associated with importing these endangered materials.

Don’t forget underneath
For those building a brand new deck, the key to a durable, high-performance deck is what lies beneath the surface: the substructure. Steel deck framing is a smart investment that allows you to maximize the life and value of your deck, as it provides durability, longevity, and beauty. Unlike wood, steel won’t warp, twist, split, or decay, and its stability creates a remarkably flat deck surface.

Decide on decking
Take the time to look and test different materials. Consider using grooved boards and a hidden fastening system when installing a deck. A smooth deck surface without visible nails or screws can be an attractive extension of your home’s interior style and create a more comfortable and safer environment for children and pets.

Add finishing touches
When it comes to outdoor designs, think outside the box and have fun exploring the many options and additions that allow you to customize your outdoor living space. Accessories such as deck lighting, ornamental post caps, and decorative balusters are ideal for enhancing the atmosphere of any outdoor living space.

Keep on track
It’s easy to put off actual decision-making about big projects, but the earlier you start, the sooner you’ll be enjoying your new outdoor living space. Make yourself a timeline and checklist to keep yourself motivated and on time.

Modern lakeside cabin designed with porch overhangs in mind
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Yearning for your own outdoor place to vegetate? Architect Ryan Thewes has a number of tips for DIYers considering a deck or porch project. A resident of Nashville, Tennessee, Thewes is licensed in Kentucky and spends almost every weekend in the summer at Lake Barkley with his family.

A few years ago, Thewes designed the Eddyville lake home of Martha and Ken Maikranz with a multiuse porch that was “the most important part. In fact, the house was designed around the porch,” says Thewes.

“One feature that was important to us was that no or minimal rain would get into the screened-in area of the porch, giving us the option of sitting on the porch during the rain,” says Ken Maikranz. “We also wanted a portion of the porch not screened to allow use of the grill and an option of sitting in the open.”

The result? A beautiful roomy porch that can comfortably accommodate the interests, wishes, and needs of a large, multigenerational family.

Thewes currently has two active projects in the design stage in western Kentucky. Although both have different porch requirements, each focuses on an integration of inside and outside space. Here are some of his professional pointers for homeowners considering a deck or porch project:

Connection and flow to the indoors: The porch is an extension of interior space so the flow and access should be a prime consideration. What is the main function and use for the porch? If dining is a possibility, then proximity to the kitchen is important. Porch placement can also affect views from inside the house, so make sure you are not cutting off important views from inside.

Height of roof: Keep in mind the height of your porch and the depth of the roof overhang. If the porch will get use during times when it is raining, you want to be aware that porches with high ceilings or small overhangs won’t prevent wind-blown rain from coming in.

Railings: It is a good idea on many porches to have a railing or some sort of protection for the screen. Kids and dogs can easily cause damage. If your porch is up off the ground, building codes will require you to provide a railing so that someone doesn’t break through the screen and fall. The railing material is an important design consideration. Solid material can provide privacy and is often the least expensive route; however, in cases where a solid rail will obstruct important views, glass or cable railing will provide security with minimal visual obstruction.

Size of porch: This goes back to the function and use of the porch. Whether it is one or two people who are sitting in chairs with a few drinks or a large table for family, good space planning will be important to make sure you have enough space to use the porch how you want to use it.

Air movement: Porches get a lot of use in the summertime, and often heat can build up. The use of good quality ceiling fans provides air movement that really affects the comfort of the porch.

Screen the floor: Don’t forget to screen the floor. This can easily get overlooked, but bugs will find their way in through the cracks between boards if you don’t. The bad part about this is that the screen makes it easier to trap debris and dirt, but a good leaf blower can fix the problem pretty easily.

Music: Technology is really changing how we listen to music. Before, we would suggest pre-wiring the porch for speakers, but there are so many good systems now that work off a home’s Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth, we just focus on providing power to locations where we want to place speakers.

Fireplaces: Some homeowners love the idea of having fireplaces on their porches for cool nights. There are many options here, from wall mounted to hanging to fire pits. Space planning is the key. Make sure your fireplace is in a location to provide adequate seating and a location where the fireplace can be easily vented.

Where to begin
Many of the homeowners who undertook deck and porch construction projects began their search for inspiration by looking at plans they found online. Here are sources for ideas:

DIY Home Design Ideas,, has information and photo galleries for deck and patio and screened-in porch designs, as well as downloadable 3-D Design Tool options, including free home design software.

HGTV,, is America’s leader in home and lifestyle programming. Click the “Design and Decorate” tab to connect to the “Outdoor Design” page.

Houzz,, is a platform for home remodeling and design where you can find pictures relating to just about any project design you can dream up; in fact, you can scroll through hundreds of photos from homeowners, home design enthusiasts, and home improvement professionals. Houzz is also a place to find design and construction professionals.

Pinterest, Type “outdoor living space” in the search bar and hundreds of images and ideas will pop up.

Read Kentucky Living’s May 2015 “Porches and Decks” feature story for more tips on building your dream outdoor retreat.

Kathy Witt from May 2015 Issue

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