10 Tips to Update Your Backyard Deck

10 Tricks to Update Your Backyard Deck_Signature Exteriors

Although much of the country is just starting to emerge from a long, cold winter, summer is just around the corner. And you know what that means: a lot more outdoor activities in your backyard! Whether it's a crowded Fourth of July barbecue or a quiet iced tea and book for one, there's nothing like a deck to really enhance your home.

Prior to adding any of the following upgrades, be sure to give your deck a thorough decluttering and cleaning—you'd be surprised how much of a difference that can make! When washing your deck, it's not advisable to use chlorine bleach on wood (bleach is best used on nonporous surfaces like a countertop). Lowe's has a step-by-step process for cleaning wooden decks.

Here are 10 things you can do to update, customize and beautify your backyard deck:

1. Refresh the Wood Finish

Staining or re-staining your deck will not only give it a fresh, new look, but the stain protects against the elements, too. It's easy to apply the stain, won't peel, and can enhance the grain of the wood. The stain in this picture is a burgundy-tinted penetrating stain on clear redwood. Check out the article from This Old House about choosing a stain and how to apply and maintain it.

Burgundy Stain

2. Add Built-in Benches

Adding built-in benches on your deck can be part of a table setting, as in the photo here from Houzz, or you can build a long bench around the edge of your deck as a sort of railing substitute (only on ground-level decks, though!). Stain the bench for a nice rustic look or add water-resistant seat cushions. You can also build storage space underneath, much like an interior window seat.

Built-in bench seating

3. Install Lattice Railings

Speaking of railings, if you decide to go that route, try installing lattice railings or a lattice wall for a more decorative look. Not only does this look nice, but if you have close neighbors, it adds a bit of privacy without creating a fenced-in feel. You can use stained wood, incorporate plants or ivy, or hang a wind chime on it.

Lattice Fence on Deck

4. Hang Paper Lanterns

To extend your enjoyment of your backyard deck beyond sunset, add some hanging paper lanterns. Not only will it illuminate the deck with soft lighting, but the lights themselves are decorative. Try different shapes and colors, hang them in a string across the top of the deck, or hang them separately on trees or the top of lattice fences.

Hanging Paper Lanterns

5. Add Plants

Even if you have a lush garden out back, you can never have too many plants or flowers! Turn your lattice fence into a vertical garden with colorful flowers, place a few potted plants in strategic positions around your deck, or add planter boxes along your railing. Just make sure you don't place any plants directly on the wooden deck or it may lead to wood rot. 

6. Cover It with a Temporary Canopy

Sometimes you want protection from the sun during the day but then you want to look up at the starry sky at night. The solution? Cover your deck with a temporary, adjustable canopy. Be sure to use cotton canvas that has been treated to ensure that it's moisture-resistant.

Outdoor deck cover

7. Stylish Patio Furniture

If your patio furniture consists of metal lawn chairs and an overturned milk crate, it's time to upgrade! Patio and deck furniture comes in a wide range of stylish options that helps to add a cozy ambience to your backyard. The outdoor sectional sofa in this picture is made of durable polyethylene wicker and plush with weather-resistant cushions and matching ottoman.

Outdoor Patio Furniture

8. Gazebo or Pergola

The use of a pergola or gazebo can add a partial cover to your deck that is both practical and decorative. An open-lattice pergola can be further enhanced with ivy or other plants to provide shade from the sun while still allowing in light and a breeze. Try hanging potted plants and flowers or paper lanterns from it.

The difference between pergolas and gazebos are:

  • Pergolas are usually square and gazebos are usually round. 
  • Pergolas have lattice-type roofs and gazebos have regular roofs.
  • Pergolas can be attached or separate to other structures (such as the house) and gazebos are stand-alone structures.

9. Sound System

Most people think "visual" when they think about decks, but don't forget about the sound! If you do a lot of entertaining in your backyard, or if you enjoy listening to calming tunes as you relax in your chaise lounge, then an outdoor sound system is the perfect touch. Wireless outdoor speakers controlled via Bluetooth is a simple option, but make sure the speakers are weatherproof and made for outdoors. Check out this list of top 10 wireless outdoor speakers.

10. Fire Pit

Even in the summer, the evenings can get a little cool, or maybe you enjoy hanging out outdoors in colder weather, too. Either way, adding a fire pit is a great way to make the outdoor space more cozy

Outdoor fire pit