Building a Front Deck or Porch for Your Maryland or DC Home
Decks and porches add to the curb appeal of your home. They also elevate your lifestyle, giving you and your loved ones a place to enjoy the sights and sounds of the great outdoors.
When it’s done right, a front deck or porch will also add to your home’s resale value. In fact, it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the look and functionality of your home.
Deck Or Porch: What’s The Difference?
While a deck and a porch are intrinsically the same in terms of their function, there is a difference. A deck is generally open to the elements and doesn’t have a roof overhead, while a porch is at least partially covered, either by a roof or an overhang.
Depending on how your home is situated, one design approach might make more sense than the other. However, there are some advantages to having an overhang in the front of the house, especially if that is where your main entrance is located.
Building A Deck: What You Need To Know
Several components go into building a deck. Depending on the size of the deck you want, your selections – and the design itself – will drive the cost in the end. In general, larger decks will cost more than smaller ones, but it all depends on a few critical factors.
When choosing your deck materials, you have three main options.
- Natural wood, while an economical option, requires more maintenance than other materials. It will need to be sealed and weatherproofed regularly to ensure its integrity over time.
- Composite decking is a manufactured product made from a mix of recycled wood, plastics, and other materials. While it is virtually maintenance-free, composite decking is a lot more expensive.
- Pressure-treated wood is low-maintenance and very economical, but the chemicals used in the manufacturing process could prove harmful if not adequately sealed. Wood dust and particles from pressure-treated wood are highly toxic when inhaled or exposed to skin, so be sure to wear adequate protection during the build and seal it well.
You might want to include some little extras, like lighting, or outdoor heating systems, in your deck design. Depending on how you will use it, lighting is always a good idea as it not only looks nice, but it’s an added safety feature.
Front Porch Design
A porch is a more finished version of a deck. Often, it’s more like a room, albeit without the walls.
If you opt for a front porch, it will be at least partially covered. Your porch might get its shade from your roof’s existing overhang, or you could decide to add another type of enclosure.
Front porches are usually open to the elements on the sides, while back porches might be screened-in. However, some folks like to have the option to close off their front porch, either with screens or windows.
Screens are particularly practical during bug season as they allow you to enjoy the outdoors without getting eaten alive. If you choose windows over screens, you will extend the seasonal use of your porch, but you should expect to add quite a bit to your budget.
Your porch flooring is another issue to consider. Porch flooring is more finished than that of a deck, too. You might choose to go with wood planks, but you could also opt for brick, concrete, stone, or tile. If your porch floor will be exposed to the elements, be sure to build it so that it slopes slightly to facilitate drainage.
Beyond a porch enclosure, things that will raise the cost of your front porch include the roofing materials you choose. If a roof isn’t in the plan, you might also think about doing a retractable awning. An awning certainly isn’t as durable as a roof, but it will give you some options to work with.
Do I Need A Permit To Build A Deck Or Porch?
Building a deck or a porch might require permits before you start building. In Maryland, any deck that is supported by footings will need a building permit, no matter what the size. As every county is a bit different in terms of their zoning regulations, it is always a good idea to check with the county department of permitting services (DIPS) to make sure you’re good to go.
As your contractor, if we are building the deck or porch, we will take care of all the required permits to ensure everything goes smoothly. You won’t have to worry about a thing.
If you are already thinking about next summer, now’s a great time to start planning your outdoor living space. Reach out today, and let’s talk about it.