Building a deck in Florida's Panhandle and Emerald Coast

Coastal Home Pros is Your Local Expert for Decks and More

If you’ve landed here without reading Part One in our series on deck-building, be sure to check out our Materials Primer. Once you’ve got your material choices nailed down, it’s time to think about designing your perfect deck. Our local experts at Coastal Home Pros can help you maximize your space and your budget to create the outdoor living space of your dreams.

Design it Right

Your family’s favorite outdoor activities should help determine the size, shape, and features of your new deck.

A great deck has well-designed space, multiple seating options, and adequate lighting and electrical outlets.
Plan for cooking and prep areas, built-in seating, dining, privacy, and sufficient lighting and electrical outlets.

Family Meals 

Maybe you already have your deck furniture, or maybe you’re buying new pieces. Either way, you should make sure your table will fit comfortably in the space you’re designing. At Coastal Home Pros, we recommend the “4-foot rule” when it comes to dining tables. Keeping a 4 foot margin all the way around the table allows plenty of space for people to walk behind those who are seated. Ideally, you should avoid layouts that trap diners at the table once they are seated.

Your new deck should have plenty of room for your dining table.
Plan room for a nice-sized dining table with plenty of clearance room around it.

Fresh Air Cooking

If you’re an avid outdoor cook, think about your grilling space. Leave room for a prep station as well as the actual grill. When you’re hosting the neighborhood barbecue, you’ll want a place to set your tools, seasonings, and ingredients near the cooking surface. 

Decks offer a wonderful outdoor space for cookouts and outdoor dining.
Your new deck will be the site of many great cookouts.

Entertaining Outdoors

Are you the host with the most whose door is always open to friends and family? Be sure to create spaces for your guests to sit and stand comfortably. Adding built-in perimeter seating is a cost-effective way to seat larger groups. And a deck railing with a wide, flat cap can do double-duty as a cocktail ledge for drinks and snacks. If you budget allows, it’s nice to create a space for lounge chairs and low tables.

Consider the Elements

Our coastal Florida sunshine is glorious, but even the most die-hard sun bum needs shade now and then. Consider adding a pergola to your decking structure to provide both shade and visual interest. Another option is a retractable awning. Besides providing shade, awnings can also offer shelter during our frequent afternoon rainstorms. 

Despite the sun, the evenings can get chilly here, especially in winter months. Consider planning space for an outdoor heater or fire pit (check fire codes first) to make your deck a year round outdoor space. 

Pergolas are a nice structural element that add shelter and beauty to your deck.
Pergolas are a nice structural element that add shelter and beauty to your deck.

Light Up the Night

When the sun drops and the stars come out, your beautiful new deck will be a lovely space to relax and entertain. Don’t forget to think about lighting. Make sure you’ve got enough lights to illuminate the entire space, paying special attention to stairs and transition zones. If you’re bringing an electrician out to install new lights, consider adding extra exterior outlets to allow for string lights and lanterns.

Go Green

Decks are a great place to highlight your green thumb. Planters and pots full of bright annuals or subtle evergreens can bring life and interest to your exterior space. If you intend to use very large planters, you may need extra structural support. If this is an issue, talk to your Coastal Home Pros deck specialist about incorporating stronger beams. Our experts can also talk with you about adding built-in planters. 

Next Steps

If you’ve chosen your decking materials and thought about your unique entertainment and relaxation needs, you’re almost ready to get started. Our Coastal Home Pros decking experts can help you think through the final planning and design details. If you have special considerations such as large trees you want to build around, a sloped yard, or handicapped access needs, we are here to help. Put our years of expertise in the Florida Panhandle and the Emerald Coast to work for you. Contact us today to get started!

Coastal Home Pros are your local decking experts.

Let Coastal Home Pros help you build a deck that delivers on function and style

Here in coastal Florida, life belongs outdoors. Our balmy climate, coastal breezes, and abundant sunshine practically beg us to live our lives outside. One of the best ways to expand your living space and get that coastal indoor-outdoor flow is by adding a gorgeous new deck. Whether you’re replacing an aging deck or starting fresh, Coastal Home Pros has the expertise and local knowledge to delivery quality results on time and on-budget. Read on for the first part of our series on decks – Materials Matter.

Materials Matter

Florida’s enviable coastal climate draws people from all over the world. Whether they’re vacationing, retiring, or building lives here, everyone loves the Sunshine State. Here at Coastal Home Pros, we know you want a beautiful deck that lets you entertain and relax in the great outdoors. But we also know it’s important to consider the harsher side of our climate when it comes to our homes and exterior projects. 

Sun, Salt, Wind, and Water

Everybody loves the salty ocean breeze, but your new deck won’t necessarily feel the love for storms, bright sunshine, and moist, salty air. When building a deck, it’s important to choose your materials wisely. 

Pressure-Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood is one of our most popular decking materials. It doesn’t require complex installation methods, it allows for great design flexibility, and it readily absorbs stain and waterproofing materials. A basic pressure-treated wood deck is also a great value. It will add function and beauty to your home without breaking the bank. 

Things to consider: Pressure-treated wood stand up better to the elements than untreated wood, but it you still have to be vigilant with maintenance. Boards, can crack, splinter, and warp, and they must be frequently cleaned and resealed or re-stained. In addition, unprotected metal fasteners and connectors may corrode in the elements.

A treated-wood deck is a flexible and economical option for expanding your outdoor living area in Florida.
Treated wood is easy to work with, flexible, and economical, but they require ongoing maintenance.


PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. In the building industry, many people simply refer to it as vinyl. Vinyl is one of the easiest products to maintain – it exhibits superior resistance to moisture and will not swell or shrink. Rot and termites are not issues with vinyl decking, and it is relatively easy to clean.

Vinyl deck rails are easy to maintain and keep clean.
Vinyl deck rails are easy to keep clean, even when visitors come to call.

Things to consider: If you want a true wood look and feel, be aware. Vinyl can look artificial, and it feels quite different to the touch. Some grades of vinyl decking have issues with squeakiness, and they can become brittle with time and UV exposure. At Coastal Home Pros, we recommend using a premium vinyl product to avoid these issues. Vinyl is reasonably priced, though not as affordable as pressure-treated wood.

Cedar or Redwood

The natural oils in Cedar and Redwood provide better resistance to insects and rot.  These woods weather to a beautiful silvery gray shade. 

Things to consider: Despite their natural properties, cedar and redwood do require maintenance and waterproofing. They can also be quite expensive, and can really drive up the cost of a large project. 

Tropical Hardwood

Tropical hardwoods such as Ipe are long-lasting and beautiful choices. These woods stand up to weather elements like no other. They are also extremely hard and durable. 

Things to consider: All that durability and beauty comes at a price. Ipe and other tropical hardwoods are one of the most expensive decking options. The materials costs are high, but labor costs are also higher. This dense, heavy, and hard wood dulls cutting blades quickly and requires more labor to install. 

Composite Boards

Composite products come in a range of colors and textures. They solve many of the maintenance issues related to real wood – they won’t crack, splinter, or rot.

Things to consider: If you love the warmth and organic texture of real wood, composite boards may not meet your aesthetic needs. Some products do look more wood-like than others, but the cost for this material can climb quickly. Composite boards can also scuff, scratch, and stain easily, and sanding and retaining are not options with this product.

You’ve Chosen the Best Decking Material – Now What?

At Coastal Home Pros, our decking experts will work with you to choose a material that meets your needs and budget. Our local experience allows us to give you the best advice on dealing with the Florida elements – from building to maintenance and beyond.

Once you’ve chosen a material, it’s time to think about design. Read on here – Building a Deck in the Panhandle & the Emerald Coast (Part Two) – Design it Right.