If you've been kept apart from your friends and loved ones this past year, chances are, you're feeling giddy with excitement at the thought of hanging out in person again. Virtual get-togethers were better than nothing, but they don't hold a candle to physical presence.
If your summer plans center on outdoor get-togethers, you're going to want to be sure your deck is up to the task of entertaining.
There are several ways to get your deck ready. Some are simple while others are elaborate. Even if you can't do it all, at least you can dream about your future outdoor oasis.
You may wonder what will happen with your homeowner insurance if you invest in your deck. Is a deck covered by home insurance? We'll cover insurance information for each deck idea.
Here are five ways to get your deck ready for the best summer of fun yet.
#1 - New Patio Furniture Can Give Your Deck a Fresh Look
Most people have a few patio furniture pieces, but if you're used to hosting parties indoors, you probably don't have enough seating and eating space for a few friends outside.
Build your furniture selection off of your table needs. If you'd like to have a sit-down meal with your guests, make sure to choose a table that's large enough for everyone. If you envision a less formal dining situation with your dinner party sitting or standing in smaller groups, you could go with chairs and side tables as your setup.
Don't forget to plan where your food will be served. If you have a big table, you can sit around it and serve the food family style, but if buffet-style serving is what you're planning, you'll need to find a serving table.
In addition to furniture, plants and flowers can help spruce up your deck and give it new life. Large planters with colorful annual flowers cascading off the sides add beauty, and big leafy plants like elephant ears can add an element of interest and drama to your outdoor space.
Insurance Tip: Your patio furniture will be covered by the contents portion of your homeowner insurance policy. You won't need to let your insurer know you got new furniture because changes in furniture are an expected part of life.
The tricky part about outdoor furniture is that it's an easy target for thieves to steal. While your insurance policy covers furniture in the contents section of your policy, it's usually not worth making a claim because you'll have to pay the deductible which might be $1,000. Then you may face increasing monthly premiums for several years.
You'll be far better off if you can prevent your furniture from being stolen in the first place. If you can secure your furniture to the deck, you'll help deter would-be thieves. Alternatively, you could store furniture in a garage or shed and set it up before your company comes.
#2 - Cleaning Your Deck Can Make It Look New
If your deck is solid and there are no safety concerns, you'll just need some elbow grease to get it ready for summer. For both wood and composite decks, you'll need to give the surface a good cleaning. Dirt builds up through the winter and if not taken care of, will contribute to decay.
A power washer, soap, water, and a rag or two are the only supplies you'll need.
If you have a composite deck, cleaning is the only thing you need to do to get it ready for company. If you have a wood deck, though, you'll need to sand and stain it. It's labor-intensive, but your deck will look new by the time you finish.
Insurance tip: Normal upkeep of your deck won't change its value to an insurance company, so no changes in your policy should be expected.
#3 - A Roof Makes Your Deck Usable Despite the Weather
Outdoor gatherings can be difficult to plan in advance because it's hard to know what the weather will do. If you're able to provide shelter for your guests should it rain, you won't have to worry about canceling barbeques because there's a 50% chance of rain.
There are several ways to shield your deck from the rain. One way is to build an awning from the house and over the deck.
You could also have success with strategically set up shade sails. Not all shade sails are made for protection from rain, so make sure you get a waterproof one if your goal is to use it to keep you dry.
If your deck is large enough, you may want to consider a pergola. A separate pergola can help you define your deck space and bring the indoors out. You can set up a table and chairs or set up seating areas under the roof.
Insurance tip: If your deck is connected to your house, it and the awning will be covered by the structure coverage in your insurance policy. If, however, your deck is not attached to your home, it and your pergola would have to be covered by an additional "other structures" policy.
Additional structures coverage isn't always part of standard policies, so you may need to pay a little extra in premiums to get coverage that will protect your investment in a stand-alone deck.
#4 - A Multi-Level Deck Can Add Entertaining Options
Now we're getting into some major deck renovations, but if you can swing it, you could create a versatile entertaining platform. Guests will be free to spread out similar to how they would in a home where some people group in the kitchen, others hang out in the dining room, and the rest lounge in the living room.
You can also create different purposes for the levels, like dining, cooking, or lounging levels. The different levels can be made to contour the ground around your home, stepping down as the ground descends.
If you're short on space, you may even be able to build a double-decker deck with one level on top of the other.
Having options of where to hang out helps people feel more at ease.
Insurance Tip: Let your insurance company know about your deck addition. Likely it won't make a difference in your policy, but as long as you keep them informed, they can't deny a claim because that portion of the deck wasn't there when you first bought your policy.
#5 - An Outdoor Kitchen Makes Entertaining Convenient
An outdoor kitchen can be as elaborate as you let it become. It allows you to truly bring the indoors out. Usually, your grill takes the place of prominence. You can build countertops around it, add a refrigerator, and even plumb a sink and dishwasher.
If you have a tight budget, you can keep the outdoor kitchen idea more simple but still accomplish the purpose of making the outdoor cooking experience more convenient.
Insurance Tip: An outdoor kitchen's effect on homeowners insurance is directly related to the value of the kitchen. If your outdoor kitchen is a barbeque grill and short counter, it will probably be covered by your other structures home insurance policy if you have one.
Typically, an other structures policy will cover up to 10% of your home's value. Suppose your outdoor kitchen is a well-developed living space that was architecturally built and cost tens of thousands of dollars. In that case, you'll want to consider getting additional coverage for your investment in your outdoor living space.
Think through your options and make a plan for how you'd like to give your deck a fresh look this season so you can entertain in style. Remember, though, more important than a fancy deck is the time you'll spend with friends and food you'll enjoy together.
About The Author: Melanie Musson, a home insurance expert, writes and researches for InsuranceProviders.com. She loves to entertain and thrives on personal interactions. She's passionate about sharing her insurance research with others and helping them find the right coverage for their situation.