Get your dream deck

How to get the right backyard retreat for your house.

The great equalizer
The great equalizer
A well-designed deck can unify otherwise disparate outdoor structures. Originally, the owners of this lake house in Norcross, Georgia, had two such features. One sat awkwardly in the middle of the backyard: a combination fish pond and planter and an elevated gazebo perched on top of a shed that was reachable only via a flight of stairs.

"The two elements weren't working with each other, nor were they tied to the rest of the yard," says designer and builder Dave Tibbetts.

His solution: link them with a pressure-treated Southern yellow pine deck that gently eases guests around the planter and up to the gazebo with a minimum of steps.

By rimming the planter with matching pine planks finished with an amber-colored tinted sealer, he also added attractive built-in seating. Further unifying the look, the fascia boards skirting the planter, the stair risers, and the deck posts were painted white to match the new wood railing, which is topped with the sealed pine.

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The pros and cons of the various materials you can use to build your dream deck (more)
A deck can handle even the rowdiest parties as long as the beam that carries the floor joists is properly bolted to the side of the house. (more)
See the rest of the photo series here. (more)
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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.