For more than 25 years, I’ve been working with my team at Sun Coast Decks of Redondo Beach, Calif., to create award-winning decks. My biggest takeaway from all those jobs is this - the details make the difference in a deck project.

We often see expensive decks done beautifully, but with small finishing touches done incorrectly. That can ultimately make a great-looking deck look not-so-great.

One common offender I see a lot is fascia that comes in direct contact with the lawn or ground. This installation practically guarantees that the fascia will be damaged by water or weed whackers.  To prevent this and to give our decks a more finished look, we always install concrete curbs directly underneath the fascia and all around the perimeter to protect the material. We form and pour the curbs at the same time as the concrete footings, by using 2x4s, as on a sidewalk but without any rebar.  We often add color to the concrete to match the fascia or to match the lawn.  We buy the additive at our local masonry supplier, paying about $50 for a five-pound bag, which will color approximately 50 linear feet of curb.  Overall, the curbs add only $200 to a typical project.

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Another inexpensive touch a homeowner can make to a deck is to use the decking boards in another application besides the flooring.  For instance, we’ve done many custom installations where we use Trex decking to create benches and planter boxes. This application adds visual interest and usually adds just a few boards to the cost. We also can use leftover parts of boards in some cases. The end result is an integrated space thanks to the small details.

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The lesson here is to challenge your contractor to think through all of the possibilities – both functionally and in design – to create the ideal outdoor living space for you.

garymain3 (Gary Cherene is a TrexPro with Sun Coast Decks of Redondo Beach, Calif.)