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EAMVT94 03-26-2005 09:48 AM

Back Yard Surfaces
There's one thing you all should know right off the bat: I am not a handy, home-fixit type but I am tinkering with the idea about my first major project and would like to get as much advice as I can.

I live in a townhouse with a fairly small, fenced-in backyard. Covering a good portion of the yard is a second story deck. I have had pretty good luck growing grass on the parts of the lawn that are not covered by the deck, but the covered area has been reduced to a massive dirt/mud pit. To make matters worse, I have a dog who "uses" the backyard. Therefore, anytime she goes out and in, she tracks dirt or mud inside. The carpet downstairs is a disaster but before I think about having my carpet replaced, I need to figure out what to do under my deck. The area I need to cover is appoximately 11'x12'.

I thought about mulch but that wouldn't solve the problem and have settled on laying down something under there, be it cement, stamped concrete, slate, etc. My first assumption, which I know may be false, is that I am going to have a hard time finding a good contractor who will agree to do such a small project. If I am wrong, does anyone know a good contractor in Northern Virginia who would do this project?

Now, assuming I have to do it myself, I do not want to spend a king's ransom on this project but still want something that would look nice. Does anyone have suggestions as to what is the best option, weighing price, aesthetics, durability, affect on property value and difficulty in completing the job? Or can someone recommend a good book that could walk me through some of these processes. Thank you all in advance

Mike Swearingen 03-26-2005 11:37 PM

You have about as many choices for surface as there are materials on the planet. The cost is going to depend on which you choose, and how accessible your backyard is.
For instance, how close could a concrete truck get to it, or nearby so that it could be brought in by the wheelbarrow load?
Whatever you install needs to be at least a couple of inches lower than the floor level that abutts it, and sloped slightly away from the townhouse for drainage (rain, snow, etc.).
You only have 132 square feet to cover, so it shouldn't be too difficult for a DIY project.
Start by seeing what your neighbors have used to solve this problem.
Good luck!

housedocs 03-27-2005 01:23 AM

EAMVT94 hello and welcome aboard! ;)

Well Mike has pretty well covered things give the idea we started with. Before you go to far, need to check out is what is allowed by owners association, local code, etc.

Also, I'm guessing this deck is sitting fairly high above grade right? I mean you can walk under it comfortably? Post back with the answer to that question, if it's what I thinking, there might be another solution to your problem that doesn't involve concrete, or gravel and little to no hard manual labor.;)

EAMVT94 03-27-2005 05:14 PM

You guessed correctly. Our deck is one floor up so walking under is quite easy. I bought a book on patios and read up on a few choices. While still daunted by my first project, I still know this is something that needs to be done.

Regarding a cement truck, that is not really an option. The townhouse community in which I live is in a square, with openings at each corner. In the middle is a courtyard with trees and other foliage. Aside from there not been a lot of room to navigate there, I doubt our HOA would allow it.

Our next door neighbor has a small brick patio and it looks OK, but not as nice as I'd like my yard to look. The neighbor on the other side has a slate patio which takes up the majority of the backyard. That would not suit our situation with the dog and they do not have a deck.

Thanks for your responses.

housedocs 03-27-2005 10:38 PM

You should take a look at this link underdeck I've got more info on this if you're interested post back. I've got pricing info both for materials & installation if your interested.

Let me know what you think, I'm considering promoting it locally so I'd like to hear some owner comments, including what you feel it would be worth, installed that is. :)

DecksEtc 03-28-2005 02:06 PM

If it were me, I'd put another deck on the lower level. You don't say what the elevation of your back door is and obviously I have no idea how your upper deck is constructed. But, it is quite possible that you would be able to tie into the existing posts for the far end of the frame and then deck it. Your budget would determine the type of material you want to use for the deck.

Just my $.02 worth...

housedocs 03-29-2005 09:19 AM

Great idea Decks.etc, somehow I'm not surprised that you made that suggestion!! :D Combine it with the other product and you have the best of all worlds, a nice 2 level deck and the bottom level is dried in for those nasty rainy days.

DecksEtc 03-29-2005 10:52 AM

You had to know I was going to suggest a deck now didn't you? :D

I just figured if the grass isn't going to grow then why not have a walk out deck. We'll have to see what decision he ends up making...

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