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10 Tips for Making Your Deck More Functional

If you spend a lot of time out on your deck or patio, these tips are for you!

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Install a Roof Under the Deck

If you have untapped space under your deck, you may be able to convert it into a dry, spacious second outdoor living area by building an under-deck roof. The roof catches any water dripping through the deck boards and redirects it outside the patio area. Adding gutters, though optional, prevents the draining water from splashing onto the patio.

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Restore Your Deck

After a few years, your deck is sure to show some wear and tear and make you feel like you have an ugly deck. Don’t rush to replace boards that are otherwise in good condition. With a deck restoration coating and just a few days in the sunshine, your deck will look as good as new.

Here’s how you can preserve the rich color tones of the hardwood and still restore a deck.

Moveable Deck Umbrella with a close up of the umbrella bracket in the bottom right corner family handyman

Moveable Deck Umbrellas

Does your deck umbrella always seem to be in the wrong spot to shade you from the sun? Mount several sets of galvanized plumbing pipe straps on the deck posts or railing in key places. Use straps with a slightly wider diameter than the umbrella pole. Then just pick a spot and slip the umbrella pole through the straps until the bottom of the pole rests on the deck. You’ll get shade right where you need it.

Outdoor wooden balcony deck with modern aluminum and cable railingsPC Photography/Getty Images

Modernize with Aluminum Rail

Upgrade the style of your deck with aluminum railing. Install aluminum posts on the surface of your deck and choose from various railing options, including glass and steel cable.

Wooden deck and patio with stair lights of family home at nightvolgariver/Getty Images

Deck Stair Lights

Lights on deck stairs give subtle illumination and make your deck safer after dark.

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Shade Your Deck

You don’t have to let the blazing sun or drippy weather drive you indoors. This simple, covered pergola will keep you and your guests comfortable in any weather.

Bamboo Citronella Torch outside with greenery in the backgroundEzumeImages/Getty Images

Ban Bugs

Bugs can ruin a perfectly good outdoor party, forcing everyone indoors. If you don’t want to use a chemical spray bug repellent, try citronella candles or torches with citronella oil.

Exterior of house with entrance, decks, and window lit, nightIvan Hunter/Getty Images

Enhance Decks with Lighting

Landscape lighting may seem like a complicated DIY project, but low-voltage lighting systems are actually a job any beginner can tackle.  Low-voltage systems are much less dangerous than standard household wiring because the system relies on a transformer, which is plugged into a standard GFCI receptacle, to convert power from 120 volts down to 12 volts. The current travels through outdoor cables to supply power to the fixtures. And if you make your deck the focus, the extra visibility will even add a level of safety.

Peaceful enclosed back deck/porch with furniturechandlerphoto/Getty Images

Wrap up a Deck

If you can enclose a deck, add heating and make it feel like another part of the house, it could be considered as additional square footage. The foundation for the deck must meet code in order for the work to take place, so checking with a building official is vital before starting a project.

two chairs on a wooden deck covered with the cover store furniture coversvia merchant

Use Covers

Covers protect your outdoor furniture from the damaging UV rays, as well as precipitation in all forms.

When choosing outdoor furniture covers, Hirschhaut says they should fit comfortably over each piece. Take measurements so the cover isn’t too tight or loose. And avoid a cover that seals the furniture underneath. “It’s important for air to be able to get in underneath to prevent mold or mildew,” Hirschhaut says.

Paul Knapp, a landscape designer in Davenport, Iowa, recommends specialty sites like Coverstore or Outer for quality outdoor furniture covers in custom sizes.

Alex Shoemaker
Alex is an avid DIYer but had little experience before purchasing his first home in 2019. A Family Handyman subscription was one of his first purchases after becoming a homeowner, and he's been hooked ever since. When he’s not working, he can be found fixing up his 1940s Florida home or relaxing on the beach with his family.