Author: Michael Regan

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

Crafting Your Perfect Outdoor Space: 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Deck

Luxury trex composite deck

A deck can be a tremendous addition to your home, providing a space for outdoor dining, relaxation, and entertainment. However, building a deck can be a challenging process filled with potential pitfalls. Being aware of these common mistakes can save you time, money, and unnecessary stress.

Let’s delve into six common mistakes that homeowners often make while building a deck and how to avoid them.

  1. Skipping the Planning Phase

    One of the most significant mistakes homeowners make is skipping proper planning. Building a deck is not as simple as buying lumber and driving in a few nails. It requires careful consideration of the space, lifestyle needs, and local building codes.

    Start by determining the size, location, and purpose of your deck. The size and shape of your deck should accommodate your intended use and complement the design of your home and landscape. With today’s decking materials designed to last 25-50 years, it’s crucial to plan the correct size, shape, stair location, and material selection carefully.

    Remember, every time you step onto your deck, you should feel satisfied with these details. That satisfaction stems from thorough planning, the right choices, and excellent execution.

  2. Ignoring Local Building Codes and Permits

    Another significant error is ignoring local building codes and permits. These codes ensure the safety and integrity of your deck. Failing to comply with them can result in fines, required modifications, or even deck removal.

    So, spend time understanding these codes and securing necessary permits. This understanding and compliance will save you from unexpected hiccups during the construction process.

  3. Choosing the Wrong Materials

    Choosing materials based solely on price is a common pitfall. Remember, the choice of materials significantly influences the longevity, aesthetics, and maintenance needs of your deck.

    Consider the impact of local weather conditions, maintenance requirements, and durability when selecting materials. Composite decking or hardwoods like cedar and redwood may be more expensive than pressure-treated lumber, but they offer greater durability and require less upkeep.

  4. Poor Installation of Ledger Boards

    The ledger board, which connects your deck to your home, plays a crucial role in the deck’s stability. Improper installation or sealing of the ledger board can cause water leakage and structural damage.

    Ensure the ledger board is correctly attached to your home’s framing, not merely the siding. Using appropriate flashing can prevent water from getting behind the ledger board and causing damage.

  5. Overlooking Deck Drainage Systems

    Ignoring deck drainage systems is another common oversight. Efficient drainage is crucial to prevent water accumulation, which can cause wood rot and structural instability.

    Incorporate a reliable deck drainage system to channel water away from the deck and house. This system could include gap-sealed deck boards, a slope design, or even an under-deck drainage system for elevated decks.

  6. Not Taking Your Time to Find the Correct Contractor

    Choosing the correct contractor is pivotal because all of these materials need to be installed in a specific manner with the correct fasteners and framing layout. If these requirements are not met, the warranty on the materials will not be valid with the manufacturer. Moreover, deck building codes have been increasing over the years, making it crucial to find a contractor who specializes in deck building.
    A contractor who is consistently booked far in advance is often a good sign of their expertise and demand. Conversely, if a contractor is readily available within a few weeks to a month, it could be indicative of a lower quality contractor who’s not in high demand.

    Further, consider whether the contractor participates in continuing education and holds accreditations for building code aspects of deck building, as well as accreditations from decking and railing manufacturers. These qualifications demonstrate a commitment to industry standards and the latest best practices.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure a smooth construction process and create a durable, safe, and enjoyable outdoor space. Investing in comprehensive planning and the right contractor is key to achieving the deck of your dreams. It’s about not just building an outdoor structure but creating a space that will bring joy each time you step onto it.

Remember, the deck’s structural integrity, aesthetic appeal, and its compliance with building codes and warranty stipulations all rely heavily on the quality of workmanship involved in the construction process. This is why hiring a contractor who specializes in deck building, possesses appropriate accreditations, and is abreast of the latest in building codes and manufacturer’s specifications, becomes crucial.

In essence, building a deck is not just a home improvement project, but a long-term investment that should be approached with diligence and care. Contractors who specialize in deck building understand this and will bring the required expertise to your project, ensuring that every aspect is handled correctly and to your satisfaction.

So, take your time to plan, research, and select the right contractor for your project. A well-designed and well-constructed deck is not just an aesthetic addition to your home, but a venue for family gatherings, a peaceful retreat, and a personal statement of style. Get it right, and it will reward you with years of enjoyment and satisfaction. Plan carefully, choose wisely, and build a deck that will stand the test of time.

Filed under: Decks

The Future of Deck Building: The Benefits of Working with a Deck Contractor Offering 3D Rendering Services

Deck building is not just about construction. It’s about creating a space that harmonizes with your home and lifestyle. It’s about visualizing the future – envisioning a place where you’ll create memories with your family and friends. Today, the most progressive deck contractors are using 3D rendering services to bring your vision to life, even before the first nail hits the wood. Below are the benefits of working with a deck contractor who offers these advanced services.

1. Visualization

The primary benefit of 3D rendering services is the ability to see the finished project before construction begins. Traditionally, a homeowner’s imagination and a two-dimensional blueprint were the only ways to visualize the final product. However, 3D rendering technology has revolutionized this process. It allows the creation of a lifelike model of your deck, viewed from different angles, reflecting accurate proportions, materials, colors, and even lighting conditions. You’ll gain a tangible sense of how your deck will look and feel within your existing outdoor space.

2. Improved Communication

A significant aspect of any construction project is communication. Misunderstandings can lead to costly mistakes or dissatisfaction with the end product. 3D renderings facilitate clear, efficient communication between you and your deck contractor. They allow for the visual representation of ideas and changes, eliminating ambiguity and ensuring that both parties understand the project vision.

3. Greater Design Flexibility

With traditional blueprints, making changes mid-project can be challenging and expensive. However, 3D renderings offer greater design flexibility. Want to move the stairs or add a built-in bench? With a few clicks, your contractor can alter the 3D model, allowing you to see and approve these changes before they’re implemented. This flexibility minimizes surprises, ensures your satisfaction with the final product, and can ultimately save time and money.

4. Material Selection and Accurate Estimates

Another advantage of 3D rendering is the realistic representation of materials. Whether you’re deciding between cedar or composite decking, or choosing the color of your railing, 3D models can display different options with impressive accuracy. This visualization can help you make informed decisions about materials and aesthetics.

In addition, 3D rendering allows for more precise cost estimates. By creating a detailed model of your deck, your contractor can provide a more accurate quote for materials and labor. This transparency can help you budget more effectively for your project.

5. Increased Value and Satisfaction

Finally, 3D renderings can enhance the value of your investment. By allowing you to visualize and tweak your deck design before construction, you’re more likely to be satisfied with the end result. This satisfaction can translate into increased enjoyment of your outdoor space and potentially higher resale value.

Moreover, a deck contractor who offers 3D rendering services demonstrates a commitment to cutting-edge technology and customer satisfaction. This forward-thinking approach is a positive indicator of their professionalism and dedication to quality work.

In conclusion, 3D rendering services are transforming the deck building industry. They offer homeowners unprecedented control over their projects, fostering clear communication, flexible design, and confident decision-making. If you’re considering a new deck, consider a contractor who offers 3D rendering services. It’s an investment in a smooth construction process and a final product that aligns perfectly with your vision.

3D deck rendering with patio
view of 3d deck rendering
view of 3d deck rendering
3d deck rendering with steps
3D Deck Rendering RTC
3D deck rendering back of house
3D deck rendering with railing
Full view of deck 3D rendering
Filed under: Decks

Adding a Pergola or Shade Structure to Your Deck: Tips and Inspiration

beautiful deck in the springtime with a new pergola

If you’re looking to upgrade your outdoor living space, adding a pergola or shade structure to your deck can be a great way to enhance its functionality and aesthetics. Not only can a pergola or shade structure provide shade and shelter from the elements, but it can also add visual interest and style to your deck. In this blog post, we’ll explore some tips and inspiration for adding a pergola or shade structure to your deck.

Benefits of Adding a Pergola or Shade Structure to Your Deck

Before we dive into the tips and inspiration, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of adding a pergola or shade structure to your deck.

  1. Increased shade and comfort: A pergola or shade structure can provide much-needed shade and shelter from the sun, making your deck more comfortable and inviting.
  2. Aesthetic appeal: A pergola or shade structure can add visual interest and style to your deck, enhancing its overall appearance.
  3. Privacy and seclusion: Depending on the design of your pergola or shade structure, it can offer increased privacy and seclusion for your outdoor living space.
  4. Versatility: A pergola or shade structure can be customized to suit your specific needs, whether you want a space for entertaining, dining, or relaxing.

Tips for Adding a Pergola or Shade Structure to Your Deck

Now that you know the benefits of adding a pergola or shade structure to your deck, let’s take a look at some tips for incorporating this feature into your outdoor living space.

  1. Consider the style of your home: When choosing a pergola or shade structure, it’s important to consider the style of your home. You want to choose a design that complements your home’s architecture and enhances its overall aesthetic.
  2. Choose the right materials: Pergolas and shade structures can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, vinyl, and metal. Consider the durability, maintenance requirements, and aesthetic appeal of each option before making a decision.
  3. Think about the placement: The placement of your pergola or shade structure is also important. Consider the amount of sunlight your deck receives throughout the day and choose a location that provides the desired amount of shade.
  4. Incorporate lighting: To extend the use of your pergola or shade structure into the evening hours, consider incorporating lighting into the design. This can include string lights, lanterns, or even built-in fixtures.
  5. Add plants and greenery: To add a natural and inviting touch to your pergola or shade structure, consider adding plants and greenery. This can include climbing vines, potted plants, or even a living wall.

Inspiration for Adding a Pergola or Shade Structure to Your Deck

If you’re looking for inspiration for your pergola or shade structure project, here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Rustic wooden pergola: A wooden pergola can add a rustic and natural touch to your deck. Choose a design that incorporates natural wood elements, such as rough-hewn beams or a distressed finish.
  2. Modern metal shade structure: For a more modern and sleeker look, consider a metal shade structure. This can include a minimalist design with clean lines and geometric shapes.
  3. Mediterranean-inspired pergola: A Mediterranean-inspired pergola can add a touch of Old World charm to your deck. Choose a design that incorporates warm, earthy colors and intricate details.
  4. Contemporary wooden shade structure: For a more contemporary look, consider a wooden shade structure with clean lines and a minimalist design. This can include a sleek finish and a monochromatic color scheme.
  5. Tropical-inspired pergola: To create a lush and exotic outdoor oasis, consider a tropical-inspired pergola. This can include a design that incorporates vibrant colors, natural materials, and lush foliage.

Regardless of the style or design you choose, adding a pergola or shade structure to your deck can provide a multitude of benefits. Not only can it enhance the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your outdoor living space, but it can also increase your home’s value and appeal.

In conclusion, adding a pergola or shade structure to your deck can be a great way to upgrade your outdoor living space and make it more comfortable and inviting. By following the tips and inspiration outlined in this blog post, you can create a pergola or shade structure that perfectly suits your style, needs, and budget. So, start planning your project today and get ready to enjoy your newly upgraded outdoor living space!

Filed under: Wood Decks

Top 5 Trends in Deck Design for 2023

Beautiful outdoor deck with a state of the art integrated deck kitchen

As we approach 2023, there are several top trends emerging in deck design. With people spending more time at home and looking for ways to enhance their outdoor living spaces, deck design has become increasingly important. Here are the top five trends in deck design for 2023.

  1. Deck Sustainability

    One of the most significant trends in deck design is sustainability. As people become more environmentally conscious, they are looking for ways to incorporate sustainable materials into their deck design. Many homeowners are choosing to use eco-friendly materials like composite decking made from recycled plastic and wood fibers. Not only does this material look great, but it is also low-maintenance, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly. Other sustainable materials that are popular for deck design include bamboo and reclaimed wood. These materials not only look great, but they also reduce the impact on the environment.

  2. Multi-Level Deck Designs

    Another popular trend in deck design for 2023 is the use of multi-level decks. Multi-level decks provide a unique look and feel to any outdoor space. They create different areas for relaxing, dining, and entertaining, and can also provide a more private space for homeowners. This type of deck design is particularly popular for homes that are built on sloping or uneven terrain. Multi-level decks are a great way to maximize space while adding visual interest to the backyard.

  3. Integrated Deck Lighting

    Integrated deck lighting is another top trend in deck design for 2023. Not only does lighting enhance the look and feel of the outdoor space, but it also adds functionality and safety. Homeowners are incorporating a variety of lighting options into their deck design, including recessed lighting, string lights, and solar-powered lights. Additionally, many homeowners are choosing to install lighting that is integrated into the deck railing, which creates a soft glow and adds an extra layer of safety. With so many lighting options available, it is easy to find a style that complements any deck design.

  4. Outdoor Deck Kitchens

    Outdoor kitchens are becoming increasingly popular in deck design. With more homeowners looking for ways to enjoy their outdoor spaces, they are investing in outdoor kitchens that allow them to cook, entertain, and dine outside. These kitchens can be as simple or as complex as the homeowner desires, with features like built-in grills, refrigerators, sinks, and storage areas. Outdoor kitchens are a great way to bring the comforts of the indoors outside, and they create a luxurious and functional space for entertaining guests or just enjoying a meal with family.

  5. Bold Deck Colors and Deck Textures

    Finally, bold colors and textures are another top trend in deck design for 2023. Homeowners are opting for bright, eye-catching colors and unique textures to add interest and depth to their outdoor spaces. Bold colors like turquoise, orange, and yellow are popular choices, as are unique textures like patterned concrete and exotic woods. These bold design choices can create a stunning contrast against the natural surroundings, and they provide an opportunity for homeowners to express their personal style.

    In conclusion, as we approach 2023, the top trends in deck design are sustainability, multi-level decks, integrated lighting, outdoor kitchens, and bold colors and textures. With so many options available, homeowners can create a unique outdoor space that is both functional and visually stunning. Whether it’s a simple space for relaxation or a luxurious outdoor kitchen for entertaining, the right deck design can transform any backyard into a true oasis.

Filed under: Decks

Why You Should Choose Low Maintenance Decking/Railing Materials With A Good Warranty

Custom deck, stairs and deck railing by regan total construction

When it comes to decking and railing materials, choosing low maintenance options with a good warranty can save you time, money, and stress in the long run. Not only will you enjoy a beautiful and functional outdoor space, but you can have peace of mind knowing that your materials are protected against issues such as rot, decay, and insects.

Low maintenance decking and railing materials, such as composite or PVC, require less upkeep and cleaning compared to traditional wood materials. This means less time spent on maintenance tasks such as staining, sealing, and painting, and more time enjoying your deck or patio. Composite and PVC materials are also resistant to rot, decay, and insects, making them a more durable and long-lasting option. This means less money spent on repairs and replacements down the road.

When it comes to warranties, it’s important to choose products that have a warranty of 25 years or greater. A 10-year warranty may seem like a good deal, but it’s important to remember that a deck or railing is a long-term investment. A 25-year warranty provides more peace of mind and protection for your investment. Additionally, look for warranties offered by reputable companies that have been in business for a long time. This ensures that the company will be around to honor their warranty should you ever need to make a claim.

Another important factor to consider is the reputation of the company. Make sure to do your research and read customer reviews before making a purchase. A reputable company will stand behind their products and have a track record of satisfied customers. This will give you confidence in the longevity and quality of the materials you are purchasing.

When choosing decking and railing materials, it’s important to balance the cost with the quality and warranty. Low maintenance materials may be more expensive initially, but in the long run, they will save you money on maintenance and repairs. On the other hand, a cheaper material with a shorter warranty may end up costing you more in the long run.

In conclusion, choosing low maintenance decking and railing materials with a good warranty can save you time, money, and stress in the long run. Look for products with a warranty of 25 years or greater from reputable companies that have been in business for a long time. With the right materials and warranty, you can enjoy your deck or patio for many years to come, without worrying about costly repairs and replacements. By choosing low maintenance decking and railing materials with a good warranty, you can enjoy your outdoor space without the hassle of constant maintenance and repairs.

Filed under: Trex Railings