Author: Michael Regan

Deck Safety: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Family and Guests Safe


As the warmer months approach, our decks become the heart of entertainment, relaxation, and family gatherings. However, the safety of these outdoor spaces is paramount to ensuring that precious moments spent with family and guests remain joyous and accident-free. At Decks by RTC, we’re committed to not just building and designing your dream deck, but also ensuring it’s a safe haven for everyone. Here’s what you need to know to keep your deck secure and your loved ones safe.

Regular Inspections Are Key

Routine checks can prevent accidents before they happen. Look out for signs of wear and tear such as loose boards, protruding nails, or weakened railings. Don’t overlook the importance of inspecting the structural supports and the connections to the house. It’s advisable to have a professional deck inspection annually to catch any issues that might not be visible to the untrained eye.


  • Checking for splintered or warped boards
  • Ensuring all nails and screws are flush and secure
  • Verifying that support posts and beams are not rotting
  • Check the flashing between the deck and the house to avoid water damage

Wood deck with a board coming up


Material Matters

The longevity and safety of your deck significantly depend on the materials used. Whether you opt for traditional wood or composite decking, ensure that the materials are of high quality and suitable for your climate. Wood decks require regular sealing and staining to prevent rot and decay, while composite materials offer durability with less maintenance but should still be checked for wear and tear.


  • Using pressure-treated wood for moisture resistance
  • Opting for composite decking for a lower maintenance solution
  • Selecting stainless steel hardware for corrosion resistance

Beautiful composite deck with nice furniture on it


Mind the Railings

Deck railings are not just an aesthetic feature; they are a critical safety element, especially for decks that are off the ground. Ensure that your railings are sturdy and meet local building codes, which typically require that they be at least 36 inches high for residential decks. Regularly push on the railings to test their strength and immediately repair any that feel loose.


  • Installing railings with less than a 4-inch gap between balusters to prevent children from slipping through
  • Using glass or cable railings for a combination of safety and style
  • Regularly tightening loose railings and balusters

Gorgeous deck with railings overlooking a beautiful landscape


Lighting and Visibility

Adequate lighting enhances the safety and ambiance of your deck. Install lights on stairs and around the perimeter to prevent trips and falls. Consider solar-powered lights for an energy-efficient option that ensures your deck is well-lit, even during a power outage.


  • Solar post cap lights for ambient lighting
  • LED stair lights for step visibility
  • Motion sensor lights for security and convenience

Trex deck with railings and lighting


Safe Deck Furniture

Choose deck furniture that is stable and appropriate for outdoor use. Avoid chairs that tip over easily or tables with sharp edges. Arrange your furniture to ensure a clear pathway for movement around the deck to prevent accidental trips.


  • Heavy-duty furniture that won’t easily tip or blow away
  • Rounded-edge tables to minimize injury risks
  • Non-slip mats under rugs and mats to prevent slipping

Deck with safe furniture, overlooking a lake

Educate Your Family and Guests

Educate your family and guests about deck safety. Make sure everyone, especially children, knows what areas might be off-limits and the importance of not leaning on railings.


  • Posting signs or reminders about maximum occupancy
  • Reminding guests not to sit on railings
  • Designating safe play areas for children away from deck edges

Husky and little kid hanging out on a deck

Plan for the Unexpected

Have a first aid kit accessible near your deck and consider installing a fire extinguisher for outdoor cooking areas. It’s better to be prepared for any mishaps that may occur.


  • Keeping a well-stocked first aid kit in a known, easily accessible location
  • Installing a fire extinguisher near the grill or fire pit
  • Having a plan in place for severe weather or emergencies

Father grilling on a nice deck


Enjoy Your Deck in 2024

Your deck can provide years of enjoyment and make countless memories with the right safety measures in place. At Decks by RTC, safety is our top priority, and we’re here to help ensure your deck is not only beautiful but also secure. Contact us for more tips or to schedule a deck safety inspection.

Filed under: Wood Decks

Crafting Durability: The Expert Edge in Deck Building vs. General Contracting

Quality deck design - hidden fasteners & flashing.

When embarking on the construction of a deck, the expertise of the contractor you choose can make a world of difference in the outcome of your project. Unlike general home improvement contractors, specialists in deck building, like the team at Decks by RTC, bring a wealth of specific knowledge and techniques tailored to ensure the durability and safety of your deck. A prime example of this specialized knowledge is the use of flashing in deck construction.

The Role of Flashing in Deck Longevity

Flashing is a critical component in protecting your deck from water damage and ensuring its structural integrity over time. Michael Regan of Decks by RTC explains that their team uses various types of flashing, including copper flashing at the house where the ledger connection is made. This is crucial because the ledger board is one of the most vulnerable points for water intrusion, which can lead to rot and decay if not properly protected.

Beyond the ledger board, Decks by RTC implements flashing tape over all support beams and framing before the decking is installed. This step is vital for protecting areas that are prone to moisture accumulation and restricted airflow, such as where decking boards or joists sit directly on beams. By preventing water from penetrating these areas, flashing tape helps to safeguard the structural elements of the deck from moisture-related deterioration.

Beyond Flashing: The Expertise of Deck-Building Specialists

While the use of flashing is a key differentiator, deck-building specialists bring additional expertise that can enhance the quality and longevity of your deck. These include:

  • Material Selection: Specialists have a deep understanding of the various materials available for decking and can recommend the best options based on your climate, usage, and aesthetic preferences.
  • Custom Design: With a focus solely on decks, these contractors can offer innovative design solutions that maximize your outdoor space and complement your home’s architecture.
  • Building Codes and Permits: Navigating the often-complex world of building codes and permits is easier with a specialist who is up-to-date on the latest regulations specific to deck construction.
  • Advanced Techniques: Beyond flashing, deck-building specialists employ advanced construction techniques, such as proper joist spacing, fastener selection, and railing installation, to enhance the safety and durability of the deck.

In conclusion, while a general home improvement contractor can offer a broad range of services, the specialized knowledge and techniques employed by deck-building specialists can significantly impact the quality, safety, and longevity of your deck. The meticulous use of flashing, as described by Michael Regan from Decks by RTC, exemplifies the attention to detail and commitment to quality that sets these specialists apart. When planning your next deck project, considering a contractor who specializes in deck building can ensure a structure that not only meets your aesthetic and functional needs but also stands the test of time.

Filed under: Wood Decks

5 Top Trends in Deck Design for 2024

trending deck design and architecture

As we move further into the decade, the design and functionality of outdoor spaces, especially decks, are rapidly evolving. In 2024, homeowners are looking for more than just a place to grill; they’re seeking an extension of their living space that reflects both their aesthetic and functional needs. Here are the top five trends in deck design for 2024 that are shaping the way we think about these outdoor spaces.

Eco-Friendly Materials

Sustainability is more than a buzzword in 2024; it’s a lifestyle. Homeowners are increasingly opting for eco-friendly materials for their decking projects. Composite decking, made from recycled plastic and wood fibers, is leading the charge. Not only does it reduce the demand on forests, but it also offers superior durability and maintenance benefits compared to traditional wood. Additionally, materials like bamboo are gaining popularity due to their rapid renewability and minimal environmental impact.

Integrated Technology

Technology integration into deck designs is on the rise. Homeowners want their outdoor spaces to be as tech-savvy as their indoor ones. This includes built-in LED lighting for ambiance and safety, Bluetooth speakers for entertainment, and even outdoor Wi-Fi extenders to ensure connectivity. The seamless integration of these technologies into decking materials and design is making decks more functional and enjoyable at any time of day.

Multi-Level Designs

Multi-level decks are becoming a staple in outdoor design, offering both aesthetic appeal and practical benefits. These designs allow for distinct areas within the outdoor space, catering to different activities such as dining, lounging, or cooking. Multi-level decks also offer solutions for challenging landscapes, making use of uneven or sloping backyards. This trend not only maximizes space but also adds depth and dimension to the outdoor living area.

Indoor-Outdoor Flow

The blurring lines between indoor and outdoor spaces are more pronounced than ever in 2024. Homeowners are seeking deck designs that extend the indoor living space seamlessly to the outdoors. This includes the use of large, sliding or folding doors that open up to the deck, matching flooring materials to create a continuous look, and similar design elements that tie the two spaces together. This trend emphasizes a cohesive living experience, enhancing the functionality and aesthetic appeal of both indoor and outdoor areas.

Personalized Spaces

Customization is key in 2024, with homeowners wanting their decks to reflect their personal style and meet their specific needs. This includes custom-built seating, unique color schemes, and personalized accessories that showcase the homeowner’s taste. Spaces designed for specific activities, such as outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and water features, are also on the rise, making each deck a unique reflection of its owner’s lifestyle.

Inspiration for Your Dream Deck

Before diving into the construction process, gathering inspiration for your deck is crucial. Here are some excellent resources to start your journey:

  • Pinterest – A treasure trove of creative ideas, Pinterest offers countless photos and links to decking projects, styles, and materials. It’s an ideal place to start building a vision board for your dream deck.
  • Houzz – With a focus on home improvement and design, Houzz provides a platform to explore professional deck designs, connect with contractors, and get advice from the community.
  • Instagram – Follow hashtags like #DeckDesign or #OutdoorLiving for a stream of visual inspiration from around the world.
  • Home Improvement Blogs and Websites – Websites such as This Old House and Bob Vila offer comprehensive guides, tips, and innovative ideas for decking projects.
  • Architectural Digest – For those looking for high-end and luxury deck design inspiration, Architectural Digest showcases projects from top architects and designers.

How Decks by RTC Can Help

Once you’ve gathered your ideas and envisioned your perfect deck, Decks by RTC steps in to turn your dream into reality. Here’s how they can assist:

Expert Consultation

Decks by RTC offers professional consultation services to understand your vision, preferences, and specific needs. They take into account your home’s architecture, the landscape, and your lifestyle to propose the best solutions for your deck.

Custom 3D Deck Designs

One of the unique offerings of Decks by RTC is their ability to create custom 3D designs of your project. This technology allows you to visualize the final outcome before any construction begins, ensuring that the design aligns with your expectations. It provides a realistic view of materials, colors, and layout, making it easier to make informed decisions and adjustments.

High-Quality Materials and Craftsmanship

Decks by RTC prides itself on using only high-quality materials that ensure durability and longevity. Whether you’re looking for traditional wood decking or modern composite decking materials, they can guide you on the best options for your project. Their team of skilled craftsmen ensures that every detail of the construction is executed with precision.

Seamless Project Management

From the initial consultation to the completion of your deck, Decks by RTC manages every aspect of the project. This includes obtaining necessary permits, adhering to local building codes, and ensuring that the project stays on schedule and within budget.


The trends in deck design for 2024 reflect a broader shift towards more sustainable, technologically integrated, and personalized outdoor living spaces. As homeowners continue to value their outdoor areas as extensions of their indoor living spaces, the importance of innovative, functional, and aesthetically pleasing deck designs becomes paramount. Whether it’s through eco-friendly materials, integrated technology, multi-level designs, seamless indoor-outdoor flow, or personalized spaces, the decks of 2024 are set to be more than just places to sit outside—they’re becoming central to the home’s overall design and functionality.

Incorporating these trends into your deck design not only enhances your outdoor living experience but also adds value to your home. As we look to the future, it’s clear that decks will continue to play a vital role in how we enjoy our outdoor spaces, making them an essential consideration for any homeowner looking to upgrade their home in 2024.

Filed under: Wood Decks

The Importance of Proper Deck Planning: Tips for a Successful Project

Deck contractor building and planning a new deck construction project

Building a deck is more than just an addition to your home; it’s an investment in your quality of life. A well-designed deck can serve as an outdoor extension of your living space, offering a sanctuary for relaxation, a hub for family gatherings, and a venue for social events. However, the success of your deck project hinges on proper planning. Without a well-thought-out plan, you risk ending up with a structure that doesn’t meet your needs, exceeds your budget, or even worse, is unsafe to use. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the importance of proper deck planning and offer tips to ensure your project is a resounding success.

Why Planning is Crucial

Budget Considerations

One of the most common pitfalls in deck construction is overshooting the budget. Proper planning helps you outline all the costs involved, from materials to labor, and allows you to make informed decisions that align with your financial capabilities. A contractor can provide a detailed estimate, helping you avoid unexpected costs.

Functionality and Design

A deck should not just be aesthetically pleasing; it should also be functional. Planning helps you decide the size, shape, and features that best suit your lifestyle. A professional deck contractor can help translate your vision into a feasible design, advising on the best materials and structural elements to suit your needs.

Safety and Compliance

Building a deck involves adhering to local building codes and regulations. Proper planning ensures that your deck is not only safe but also legal. A contractor can handle the task of obtaining all necessary permits and scheduling inspections, ensuring your deck is up to code.

Key Steps in Deck Planning

Assess Your Needs

Before you even think about design, consider what you’ll be using the deck for. Is it primarily for dining and entertaining? Do you need it to be kid-friendly? Or is it a peaceful retreat for reading and relaxation? Your intended use will guide many of your subsequent decisions.

Choose the Right Location

The location of your deck matters. It affects not just the construction process but also your enjoyment of the finished product. A contractor can assess your property to recommend the most suitable location, considering factors like sunlight, wind direction, and proximity to neighbors.

Select Materials Wisely

The materials you choose will have a significant impact on the longevity and maintenance requirements of your deck. A contractor can guide you through the pros and cons of different materials, helping you make an informed decision.

Create a Detailed Plan

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information, it’s time to create a detailed plan. This should include dimensions, structural details, and a list of materials. A contractor can provide detailed blueprints, serving as the roadmap for the entire project.

Budget and Timeline

With your plans in hand, you can now create a budget and timeline. Be realistic and account for potential delays like bad weather or material shortages. A contractor can help establish a realistic budget and timeline, accounting for potential delays and unexpected costs.

Obtain Permits and Inspections

Before construction begins, make sure to obtain all required permits. Your contractor can handle this cumbersome task, ensuring your deck is up to code.

Tips for a Successful Deck Project

  1. Consult Professionals: Even if you’re well-versed in home improvement, consulting with a professional contractor can provide valuable insights.
  2. Think Long-Term: Choose materials and designs that will stand the test of time, both in terms of durability and style.
  3. Prioritize Safety: From railings to staircases, make sure every component of your deck is safe and up to code.
  4. Consider Future Add-Ons: Plan for possible future additions like a pergola, hot tub, or outdoor kitchen. Even if you can’t afford them now, preparing the structure to accommodate them later is wise.
  5. Review and Revise: Don’t be afraid to make changes to your plan as you go along. Flexibility can often lead to a better end result.

Proper planning is the cornerstone of any successful deck project. It sets the stage for everything that follows, ensuring that you end up with a deck that not only enhances your home but also enriches your life. So take the time to plan carefully; your future deck will thank you.

Filed under: Decks, Trex Composite Decks

How to Create a Deck that Flows with Your Home’s Architecture

Beautiful deck & patio integrated with home's architecture

Transform Your Home with a Deck That’s More Than Just an Add-On

When it comes to elevating your home’s aesthetic and functional appeal, a well-thought-out deck can be a transformative addition. Not only does it offer a haven for relaxation and social gatherings, but it can also significantly boost your property’s value. In this all-encompassing guide, we’ll walk you through the key elements of designing a deck that feels like a natural extension of your home, with a special emphasis on railing and lighting options.

Recognizing Your Home’s Architectural Style

The first step in achieving a harmonious deck design is to get a firm grasp on your home’s architectural style. Whether it’s modern minimalism or traditional elegance, understanding this will guide your choices in materials, color, and design features.

Material Choices: More than Just Wood

After identifying your home’s architectural style, the next step is to pick materials that align with it. For modern homes, composite decking offers a sleek and low-maintenance choice. If your home has a more traditional vibe, classic wood could be the way to go.

Pro Tip: Always keep local weather conditions in mind when selecting materials. Some options may be more durable and easier to maintain, saving you time and effort in the long run.

The Role of Color

Color is a powerful design tool. The hue you choose for your deck should either complement or pleasingly contrast with your home’s exterior color scheme. This ensures a visually cohesive and appealing outdoor space.

Scale and Proportion: Getting it Right

The size of your deck should be in harmony with the size of your home. A deck that’s too small can look out of place next to a large house, just as an overly expansive deck can overwhelm a smaller home.

Functionality and Flow: Design with Purpose

Consider how you’ll use the deck. Whether it’s for entertaining large groups or for quiet relaxation, the layout should facilitate easy movement and offer comfortable seating and amenities.

Details Make the Difference

Small details can make a big impact. Consider adding architectural elements that mirror your home’s style. For example, if your home has a particular type of railing or trim, try to incorporate the same or similar designs into your deck. Lighting is another element where you can add style while also increasing functionality. Choose fixtures that echo your home’s design to tie everything together.

Railing Ideas to Elevate Your Deck

For Traditional Homes

Wooden railings with intricate balusters can add a touch of elegance to homes with a classic or colonial style. Wrought iron is another elegant option.

For Modern Homes

Glass railings or cable rail systems offer clean lines and unobstructed views, making them ideal for modern homes. Stainless steel also provides a sleek, contemporary look.

For Farmhouse or Rustic Homes

Reclaimed wood or log railings can add an authentic, rustic charm to your deck.

Custom Touches

Consider adding solar post caps or other decorative elements that serve both functional and aesthetic purposes.

Deck Lighting Ideas to Illuminate Your Space

String Lights

String lights can add a magical touch and are versatile enough to suit almost any architectural style.

Recessed Lighting

For a sleek, modern look, consider recessed lighting built into the deck itself.

Lanterns and Lamps

Traditional or rustic homes can benefit from the warm glow of lanterns or oil lamps.

Solar Lights

Solar lights offer an eco-friendly lighting option and come in various styles, making them suitable for modern homes.

Focused Spotlights

Spotlights can draw attention to specific features on your deck, like a beautiful plant or a water feature.

Consult the Pros

If you’re unsure about any aspect of your deck design, don’t hesitate to consult professionals. Architects and deck designers can provide valuable insights and can help you avoid costly mistakes. They can also help you explore options you might not have considered.

Final Thoughts

Designing a deck that complements your home’s architecture involves a blend of thoughtful planning, material selection, and design details. By paying attention to elements like railing and lighting, you can create an outdoor space that not only enhances your lifestyle but also adds value to your home. Armed with these tips, you’re well on your way to creating a deck that feels like a natural extension of your beautiful home.


Filed under: Wood Decks

Creating an Outdoor Oasis: Incorporating Landscaping into Your Deck Design

Trex composite deck with plants and furniture

Outdoor living spaces have become an essential part of modern homes, providing a seamless transition between the indoors and the natural world. A well-designed deck can be more than just a place to grill and gather; it can be a tranquil oasis that reflects your personal style and connects with the surrounding landscape. Here’s how you can create an outdoor oasis by incorporating landscaping into your deck design.

1. Understanding Your Space

Understanding your space is the foundation of creating an outdoor oasis. It’s about recognizing the unique characteristics of your yard and how they can be harmonized with your deck design. From the way the sunlight hits different areas to the natural flow of the landscape, every detail matters. By carefully assessing the area and identifying key features, you can create a design that feels natural, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. Avoiding common mistakes like ignoring the surroundings or overcrowding the space ensures that your outdoor oasis will be a comfortable and inviting retreat.


  • Assess the Area: Consider the size, shape, and orientation of your deck and yard. Think about how the sun, wind, and other elements will affect the space.
  • Identify Key Features: Recognize existing features like trees, ponds, or slopes, and integrate them into the design.


  • Ignore the Surroundings: Avoid overlooking the existing landscape and how it interacts with your deck.
  • Overcrowd the Space: Don’t add too many elements that can make the area feel cramped or unbalanced.

2. Choosing the Right Plants

  • Select Native Plants: Native plants are adapted to your local climate and soil, making them easier to maintain.
  • Consider Scale and Proportion: Choose plants that complement the size of your deck and don’t overwhelm the space.

Plants for Connecticut:

  • Perennials: Black-Eyed Susan, Coneflower, and Joe-Pye Weed.
  • Shrubs: Mountain Laurel, Inkberry, and Summersweet.
  • Trees: Eastern Redbud, Dogwood, and Sugar Maple.
  • Grasses: Switchgrass and Little Bluestem.

Plants for Massachusetts:

  • Perennials: Bee Balm, Goldenrod, and Lupine.
  • Shrubs: Bayberry, Viburnum, and Witch Hazel.
  • Trees: American Elm, Red Maple, and White Pine.
  • Grasses: Indian Grass and Northern Sea Oats.

3. Incorporating Hardscape Elements

  • Use Natural Materials: Stone, wood, and other natural materials can create a harmonious connection between your deck and the landscape.
  • Add Water Features: A small fountain or pond can add a soothing ambiance.

4. Creating Functional Zones

Dining and Cooking Area Ideas:

  • Outdoor Kitchen: Consider adding a built-in grill, sink, and prep area. Stainless steel appliances are durable and weather resistant.
  • Pizza Oven: A wood-fired pizza oven can be a unique addition.
  • Bar Area: Including a bar with seating can create a social hub.
  • Cooking Safety: Ensure proper ventilation and fire safety measures.

Relaxation Zone:

  • Outdoor Fireplace: Options include wood-burning, gas, or a fire pit, with materials like natural stone, brick, or fire-rated concrete.
  • Seating Arrangement: Arrange comfortable seating around the fireplace.

Safety Considerations:

  • Fire Safety: Ensure construction to local building codes and include proper safety barriers.
  • Material Selection: Use non-combustible and heat-resistant materials.

5. Lighting and Accessories

  • Use Ambient Lighting: Soft lighting can create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
  • Add Personal Touches: Decorative accessories like cushions, rugs, and art can make the space feel personalized.

Trex Lighting Examples:

  • Deck Post Cap Light: Tucked discreetly under the cap, providing a warm downward glow.
  • Stair Riser Light: Installed into step risers, durable for years of foot traffic.
  • Recessed Deck Light: Subtle dot lights that install flush on the deck boards.
  • Aluminum Post Cap Light: Integrates lighting into the Trex Signature® aluminum post.
  • Wedge Deck Rail Light: Versatile post lamp that can be installed on composite sleeves.
  • Energy Efficiency: Trex deck lighting uses 75% less energy compared to incandescent.
  • Easy Installation: DIY-friendly with the built-in Trex LightHub® connection system.

6. Sustainability Considerations

  • Water Conservation: Use drought-tolerant plants and efficient irrigation systems.
  • Eco-friendly Materials: Examples include recycled composite decking, reclaimed wood, bamboo, permeable pavers, solar lighting, recycled metal, and low-VOC paints and stains.

7. Working with Professionals

  • Consult a Landscape Designer: A professional can help you create a cohesive design.
  • Hire a Skilled Deck Contractor: Ensure that the construction is done to code and meets your quality standards.

Creating an outdoor oasis is more than just adding a few plants around your deck. It’s about designing a space that resonates with your lifestyle and connects with the natural environment. By thoughtfully incorporating landscaping into your deck design, you can create a tranquil retreat that enhances your home’s beauty and offers a place to relax and entertain. If you need professional assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to experts like Regan Total Construction who specialize in creating beautiful outdoor living spaces.

Filed under: Decks, Trex Composite Decks