Decks should be positioned in the backyard in such a way as to gather as much sun as possible. However, they are most comfortable and enjoyable if they also provide access to shade.
Overhead structures such as pergolas, arbors and trellises do this while at the same time providing a sense of security and shelter on the deck. Outdoor structures such as these divide and define different deck areas and add a vertical dimension to the horizontal lines of a deck. These shade structures can serve several purposes at one time and can be modified as the needs of the family change over time.
Shade structures differ from solid roof construction in that they do not provide complete protection from rain and they allow the free circulation of air.
An arbor is a freestanding 3-dimensional structure made up of posts and overhead horizontal joists or sloping rafters that create the illusion of an outdoor room. It is specifically designed to provide a shaded space for the enjoyment of its occupants. It can also incorporate latticework to provide for the growth of vines and climbing plants. The latticework can also provide a measure of privacy from neighbors. Benches and other forms of freestanding seating can become an interior feature of the arbor and provide a refuge during a rain shower or a special area in which to find calm and quiet.
A pergola is an arbor that is attached to the home. The house wall provides excellent support while eliminating the need for half of the posts. The pergola’s open-roofed structure is supported away from the house by columns. The pergola shades windows and glass doors from the glare of the summer sun but permits the lower winter sun to reach the interior.
A trellis is a structure constructed from smaller scale lumber that is designed for climbing plants or vines to grow against or over. It can be freestanding, mounted vertically against a wall or can be used horizontally as the ceiling portion of an arbor.
A pergola or arbor can balance sun and shade by means of the direction and spacing of the joists or rafters which work like the horizontal slats of a venetian blind, blocking and allowing light as the sun travels through the overhead sky. Shade devices such as umrellas or awnings are less permanent solutions but do not provide the dramatic design elements created by arbors, pergolas and trellises.
It is a wise decision to check local building codes to discover if a permit is required, especially for arbors and pergolas, and to learn about any restrictions such as post height, material types, joist or rafter spacings, footings and support post spacings. Fire regulations may also have an impact upon the erection of these structures in certain circumstances.
Once the new outdoor structure is completed it will soon become a dramatic design feature that will enhance the aesthetic look of the deck as well as its function.
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of “How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish”. To Discover More About
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