Deck on Deck!

May 19, 2016

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Our yard is probably the most intimidating/embarrassing thing about our whole house, but after years of planning, it’s finally time to do something about it. It’s divided into, what I can only describe as, three triangles. When we were putting in our fence a couple years ago, we drew up this quick mockup of the property. We have large side yards and a pretty small back yard.

Deck on Deck! | Chris Loves Julia

Here’s a photo of the back “triangle” I snapped a couple months ago.

Deck on Deck! | Chris Loves Julia

We envision the right side yard being a play set for the girls and the left side yard being a garden and this backyard an extension of our indoors–perfect for entertaining/dining/lounging. We decided to turn the whole thing into a deck. Which, although it’s small for a yard, it’s turning out to be quite a massive deck, but we’re excited to have different zones.  Here’s a drawing of just the backyard:

Deck on Deck! | Chris Loves Julia

Some of these things will happen this year and some in the future, but for reference, the 9.5’x6.5′ section in the upper left hand corner will be an outdoor kitchen. And the pointed corner at the bottom of the diagram (we ended up making it larger than 4.5′ across), we’ll be putting in a fireplace. I was inspired by this photo (by Eric Olsen Design) for the idea:

Deck on Deck! | Chris Loves Julia

Although we’re not exactly sure if we’ll do lighter stone, concrete, something taller, something super dark–that’s the great thing about inspiration–you can see something you love and make it your own. There will also be lounging zones and a dining space and we’d love to squeeze in a hammock or something like it, too. Overall, the deck will be 1100 sq ft….and it’s going to be finished by next week!

Deck on Deck! | Chris Loves Julia

You may have heard me mention on our podcast, we decided to hire the installation of the deck out. With trying to finalize plans for the Pittsburgh kitchen we’re doing, and keeping up with our other projects and jobs, we wanted to be able to enjoy this deck before summer hit too hard. So, we forked over the cash to a guy we found on a neighborhood Facebook page. He has 10 years experience and he’s been over every morning working on it. It’s really exciting to see it starting to take shape.

We ordered the materials ourselves and had them delivered and gave him all the plans, so he didn’t have to worry about designing or shopping. For the substructure, we’re using 6x6s, 2x10s and 2x8s and the actual decking, we decided to go with Trex. A couple years ago (told you we’ve been planning this forever!), we asked you if you preferred composite or wood decking and there was really good insight on both. In the end, we love the fact that Trex, a brand of composite decking, provides us with a durable deck that won’t fade, splinter (safer for little feet and paws!), crack, rot, swell, or require any staining or painting year after year. And since this is a decent sized deck, that all is very appealing to us. We decided to go with their Clam Shell color (in their enhance line, see photo from the Trex site below). It’s a sort of moody charcoal with warm undertones–right up our alley!

Deck on Deck! | Chris Loves Julia

If everything stays on schedule, we should have finished photos of that for you by next week. Fingers crossed! Anyone else working on a deck project? Doing it yourself or hired it out. I gotta say, our guy was $1600 and I can already say it’s been worth every penny!


Thanks to Trex for partnering with us to create this awesome outdoor space. 

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What do you think?

  1. what is the stone that was used on the fire place and the dimensions of the fire place?

    thank you,

  2. love the fireplace what stone is it outside and what are the dimensions?
    thank you

  3. Emma says:

    The deck looks gorgeous! I also love the furniture. I’m in the market, could you tell me where it’s from?

  4. Denise says:

    Looks very exciting! Can’t to see what you choose for the outdoor tiles :)

  5. Katy says:

    We are getting a new deck this week as well (the old one was nearly falling off the house). It’s “raised” but only a couple feet. We purposely kept it small to avoid the cost of permits, but yours has me rethinking this! On the upside, I can get it built this week, and if we decide to expand it, removing some railings and end caps are the worst we’d have to do. We are still mulling over colors and stains and the like as well. Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!

  6. Laura says:

    Is that an apartment complex overlooking your yard? How do you plan to address privacy? Because it seems like there won’t really be any …

    • Julia says:

      Haha, the blue house? That’s not an apartment, just our neighbors’ home. I took the before photos back in March, so the trees are already filled in and you can barely see it. In the winter, the privacy lessens for everybody, but all spring and summer, when we’re out there, it’s nice and lush.

    • Lara says:

      I totally thought the blue house was an apartment complex too! The length of the structure and the number of windows gave me that idea.

  7. Meg says:

    That did include construction of the deck as well. But it is a straight, square deck, nothing fancy! Thank you for some guidelines! I will definitely keep looking :) We want it to have our wedding on in our yard, so we are very excited to get started with it!!!

  8. Meg says:

    Hi! We are in the market for new decking and our bids seem outrageous. Would you be able to share how much the materials cost? Just want to make sure that our quotes are honest. We are doing a deck about the same size as yours and we were quoted $38,000 for “Middle of the road” redwood. I almost had a heart attack!

    • Julia says:

      That seems outrageous! Does that include installation? Our substructure was about $4K-$5K (still tallying up receipts, and we’ll have returns, too) and the actual decking is close to $6K.

      • George says:

        Is the $6K what you paid or what it would cost? That seems low to me for such a large deck. Since TREX is commenting here I’m assuming there was some discount to promote the product.

  9. Christy says:

    Excited to see how this massive project turns out!

    I also wanted to mention, having read through the comments in the other post and seeing that you ere initially drawn toward limestone or pavers before realizing you would have to do a raised deck – you can absolutely do a tiled raised deck. Cover the step in the same material, and it wouldn’t look out of place at all being raised. A beautiful look, without the same maintenance issues that plague wood and composite.

    The systems to support the tile deck really aren’t much more costly, and depending on the paver you choose, the total can definitely be much less costly than composite.

  10. Laura C says:

    I like the look of composite decking, but it gets so hot in the sun. We resurfaced our composite deck with mahogany and it has been much more barefoot friendly in the summer. $1600 is a steal for labor – even if I paid to fly your guy to where I live and gave him room and board, he’d still be cheaper than anyone where we live.

  11. Id substitute “hope” for the won’t fade part of the Trex equation. We installed trex in the cedar color on our deck and only get a few hours of sun but it was faded by the end of that summer. 4 years later and we’re already looking at the restaining options available at sherwin williams and by rustleom. It’s really disappointing. I hope yours doesn’t fade.

    • Trex says:

      Trex has shifted our product offering to an all high performance deck board that is fade and stain resistant. If you purchased boards in 2012 that faded, chances are high that it was our first generation composite called Trex Accents. That kind of dissatisfier is why we switch our lineup and no longer manufacture traditional composite decking, only high-performance decking. If you would like additional information please do not hesitate to call us at 1-800-BUY-TREX or email us at

  12. Kelly says:

    Did you double check the fireplace with your homeowners insurance? My husband works in insurance and was just telling me that they couldn’t insure a property because they built a fireplace into their deck. I know this isn’t in your deck, but it might cause problems.

  13. This is going to be beyond dreamy. I am still in reverse sticker shock at the cost! We cannot wait to see this unfold.

  14. Hannah says:

    So does the deck go right to the property line? Just curious, is that allowed? It looks so nice!

    • Julia says:

      There’s an exemption for property limits on decks, so you can go right up to the property line, however our fireplace had to be 5’from the line. Hope that helps!

  15. First, I’m so excited to see this all come together! Second, I laughed about the difference in living space between Idaho and Boston, because your deck is the same square footage as our three bedroom condo! We definitely have friends and family back in Kansas who I think would be shocked at how “tiny” our place is, but it feels gigantic after our last apartment. All that to say, it sounds like you’re in for an AMAZING outdoor space!

  16. Stephanie says:

    Yes!!!! We are trying to plan our deck RIGHT NOW!!!!!!! We are totally doing all the work ourselves. We are just too indecisive about what we want and where it should go! Low deck vs crushed stone. Privacy screen vs privacy hedge. Fireplace vs bonfire pit. Ugh.

  17. Jodi B says:

    I am excited to see the finished product!! We are getting ready to build a shed and small extension to our deck. Our back yard is a blank slate – so it has been fun dreaming of project ideas!

  18. NIcole says:

    Um…$1600 is a steal! I just spent that amount on a custom-built pantry. Worth it to me? Yes. But damn, 1100 Sqft of additional “living” space makes it seem like I got robbed!

  19. Crystal says:

    We are currently in the debate of hiring out or DIY for our deck. Ours isn’t going to be as big, 20×20 square structure. We have someone coming for an estimate next week so we will see. Can’t wait to see the finished project!!!

  20. That giant deck is going to be so wonderful during the summer! I love the idea of adding a fireplace too. It must be the time of year for backyard projects because I just had my yard completely re-done. I hired out because it was way too big of a job for me to do. It was SO expensive (I think I cried a little writing that check), but it’s so worth it. We’ve already had one big party…although I wish I would have had it done a few months ago because now it’s starting to get too hot in Phoenix to hang outside for long, except in the pool.

  21. Melissa says:

    That inspiration picture is amazing. Can’t wait to see the final product.

  22. Katharine says:

    How did you handle permits? Did you get them before hiring the guy to build it?

    • Julia says:

      We called our city to get permits and they said that we didn’t need one since it’s not actually attached to our home–just up against it. But every city and region will be different, and it could take time, so definitely look into that wherever you are.

  23. Megan says:

    I’m excited to see the final result! Also, thank you for including costs for labor, it really helps when I am planning similar projects, to know approximately what to shoot for.

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