What Do You Put Under Raised Decks?
You’ve put a lot of thought and care into planning your new deck design. But before you begin work on this important home improvement, don’t neglect the one area that may come back to haunt you later: what’s below the deck. You’ve probably seen what happens when you don’t plan ahead: muddy, weedy, unkempt space right beneath your deck — right at your back door!
It’s time to think beyond stowing a wheelbarrow or leftover decking materials under the deck. Turn this unsightly area into something beautiful — even valuable. All it takes is a little imagination and planning.
Deck Drainage System Under Raised Decks
If you are planning to build an elevated deck on your home, don’t miss the opportunity to add an under-deck drainage system. With a top-quality system, such as Trex RainEscape, you install the system on top of the deck joists before the deck boards are installed, ensuring that moisture doesn’t leak through your decking boards onto whatever you have beneath. A deck drainage system uses a series of troughs and downspouts to waterproof the area beneath your deck.
With an under-deck drainage system, you have so many choices for how to best use this space: outdoor kitchen, storage area, play place, and so much more. Be sure to consult any homeowner association guidelines or building codes to ensure your design ideas comply with local rules.
Available Options for Deck Drainage Systems Under Raised Decks
- Storage. In a 2020 survey, homeowners said more storage was high on their must-have list. If you have a raised deck, you already have space to stow away those kids’ toys, outdoor gear, or gardening supplies. With a drainage system, you will have a waterproof space where you can add shelves and stack up whatever is currently cluttering up your living spaces. Dry storage is perfect for seasonal decorations, sports gear, hobbies — really anything you need to tuck away!
- Playspace. On those days when the kids need to get out of the house, but the weather isn’t cooperating, you will love the under-deck space you built. Even if you make a corner of your deck storage kid-friendly, your child will feel like they have their own little playhouse.
- Workshop. Always wanted a repair shop or a she-shed? Need a place for your DIY projects? Whether your passion is woodworking, floral arrangement, or small engine repair, you’ll find a clean, dry space ready to work.
- Entertainment room. The space beneath your deck is perfect for gathering with friends. With a walkout basement, this area can serve as an extension of your living space. Whether you add just a portable cart or a full outdoor kitchen, you’ll be able to eat outside without worrying about the forecast. Buy a waterproof television and host a watch party. Install a ceiling fan for hot days or an outdoor fireplace for chilly weather, and enjoy your deck year-round.
- Office. If you’ve wanted a more private work-from-home option, create an office or writer’s nook in the space beneath your deck. Fully enclose this space with electrical and heating options, and you can work in all seasons.
If you’re not ready to finish off the space under your deck, then what? Skirting and landscaping can transform this area from one with no visual appeal to something that complements your home and provides a privacy screen. In the past, homeowners often used wood or plastic lattice to hide unsightly storage and bare dirt. But today, you have many options:
- Wood slats. Use the horizontal lines of wood panels or metal slats to create a modern design. Paint the slats the same color as your home or a contrasting, often darker, color.
- Patterns. Today’s composite deck skirting comes in myriad designs. Trex LatticeWork offers Moroccan, Tuscan, Imperial, and Pueblo designs that are fully customizable and durable. The panels, made of lightweight PVC, can easily be cleaned and are weather-resistant.
- Vertical lines. Vertical lines draw the eye up and can seem to disappear when you use a dark color or plant shrubbery around it.
- Stone or brick. Choose a natural material to give your home a solid, well-grounded appearance—coordinate colors and textures with your home.
- Shrubs or plants. An easy DIY remodel is to landscape around the perimeter of your deck or back porch. Check out this photo gallery for ideas to spruce up around the deck. Use edging or brick to help outline garden beds and fill them with natural stone, river rock, or mulch. If you choose to mulch, consider how close it is placed next to the wood around your house’s foundation to avoid attracting pests.
Put Gavel Under the Deck
While a concrete slab or paving stones complete a more finished room beneath your deck, you may not have space or budget for this. To ensure your under-deck space doesn’t become a moisture trap, accelerating rot for your wood deck, or a field of weeds, consider adding gravel.
Washed gravel or crushed stone allows rain and snow to drain and create natural runoff. It also prevents weeds, protects against erosion, and keeps away moisture away from your deck’s wooden substructure. Plan to buy enough gravel so that it’s about 3-4″ deep. Put the gravel on top of the landscape fabric for added protection against weeds.
What kind of gravel should you buy? With its rough edges, crushed stone is the least expensive, but make sure it’s been washed to cut down on dust and debris. With its smooth rounded surfaces, River rock can be easy to use and provide a more finished look. Pea gravel is small (between 1/8″ and 3/8″) and easy to walk on but may retain more moisture. Egg rocks are elongated rocks with smooth surfaces and are less likely to collect leaves or debris.
Using gravel as a ground cover can also help make the space beneath the deck a bit more useable. With low-maintenance gravel, you might be able to store a boat, trailer, lawnmower, or even a car underneath. While this won’t be a waterproof space, your vehicles will be more protected than sitting in your driveway.
Using the space beneath your deck wisely offers so many benefits. If you finish the area with an under-deck drainage system, you get more storage, more room to play, more space to entertain, more space to work. With skirting or lattice, you add to the aesthetic of your home. Gravel lessens moisture and wood rot.
Take time to think through the space beneath your raised deck. During the construction, you’ll have the most options. Talk to your builder or DIY a design that adds value and visual appeal to your home. You’ll enjoy the benefits immediately and for years to come!