You’ve been doing a bit of home improvement lately, turning your focus to your yard to create a more functional, aesthetic outdoor living space. Now, you’re thinking about building a patio or attached deck and have stumbled onto the concept of a floating deck. After mulling the options over a bit, you decide a deck is a better choice as it fits your design.
The question becomes whether to install an attached deck, one that’s connected directly to your home, or a floating deck. As with most landscaping and home improvement projects, the choice isn’t easy and you’re wondering which is right for you, your home, and your lifestyle.
The answer really lies in what you’re trying to accomplish. The purpose of the feature will be key to which one you ultimately choose. You’ll have to take many things into consideration, particularly things like how long you plan to be in your home and what you’ll need to actually build your deck.
The Difference between an Attached Deck and a Floating Deck
Let’s start with the most fundamental difference between the two structures. An attached or fixed deck is precisely what it sounds like, it is attached directly to your home. A floating deck, though, is not attached but it doesn’t really float. The name is a bit misleading; and, even though it evokes the notion it’s portable, it isn’t. A floating deck can be placed anywhere, even right outside your home, it just isn’t physically attached.
Comfort, elegance and living space make a deck one of the best home improvement investments you can make. According to the annual Remodeling magazine “Cost vs. Value Report,” you’ll get back nearly 75 percent of what you pay for a deck if you sell your home within the first year after the deck is built. That investment can vary widely, from around $15 per square foot installed for pressure-treated Southern yellow pine decks to more than $30 per square foot for cedar and redwood. —This Old House
One of the reasons people choose this kind of feature is because they can put it practically anywhere in their yard. Some opt to build theirs around one or more trees. Others build theirs as a base for a pergola. Some construct the feature to extend an existing attachment to their homes. Still other homeowners opt to build a floating deck partly or fully around a water feature. In other words, they use it as both a functional space and as an expanded focal point.
Pros and Cons of Floating and Fixed Decks
Of course, with each type there are pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know about each to help you decide between an attached structure and a floating feature:
- Ability to install where it’s most convenient. You’ll be able to choose the location and the height off the ground is a bit more flexible.
- You can build it out and expand on it more freely. With this kind of deck, shape is only limited to the imagination.
- It can’t damage your home if it’s damaged by weather. Because a floating deck isn’t attached directly to your home, it can’t pull away and damage the exterior of your house if it’s damaged by high winds or other forces of nature.
- Easier to build for the DIY types. Since the feature isn’t directly attached to your home, you won’t need as much skill to build one yourself.
- Usually requires more maintenance. Because these kinds of decks are typically close to the ground, you’ll probably have to deal with weeds growing-up under and between the planks.
- May not bring a high return-on-investment. If you’re going to be selling your home in the future, this could be a selling feature or one that’s a turnoff because it isn’t extending from the exterior of the house.
- Susceptible to damage from surrounded natural features. Should it be built around one or more trees, it could become damaged if a tree is damaged by weather or dies. Roots are also a possible problem.
- Seamlessly continues the flow from the interior of your home to the exterior. This is a big plus, especially for the grill gourmet because the kitchen is always nearby.
- Usually further off the ground and away from trees. This means not having to battle weeds growing-up from the ground and less probability of being damaged by a falling tree.
- Ability to enclose in screen. Another advantage of a directly attached deck is being able to screen it in and make it pest proof.
- Expense. An attached deck will probably cost more.
- Permitting. Because the structure is added to your home, you’ll need a building permit.
- Requires more skill to build. The average DIY homeowner won’t necessarily have the skill set to build it.
Regardless of type, both are great features. What’s more, you can opt for composite material to give it increased longevity.