The word terrace comes from the Latin word for “earth”, meaning a structure that is built or raised up from the earth. Over the years, terraces have undergone significant transformations, with the term becoming synonymous with any type of structure that links the outdoors with the space within. Today, terraces are often found in gardens, particularly in sloped or hilly terrain, as well as on rooftops and in place of ordinary patios. Wood terraces in particular, have become popular as they create a beautiful, natural bridge to the outdoors. Like any structure, though, wood terraces do have several considerations affecting their construction. Learn to build a better terrace with these design ideas to help make the most of your new outdoor area.
Terraces often differ from regular decks or patios with their placement. They may be at the top of a building or short ways from the house within a garden. They might also be built into the side of a hill.
So, the first consideration when building any type of terrace is its accessibility. Unless your terrace is being built right outside your backdoor, consider how people will reach the area. Will stairs be built to the roof? Will you use a wooden walkway of the same material to create a path to the garden or up a slope? Will you use a different material to create a unique design, such as river stones or pavers that can surround the wooden terrace to give it additional style?
Any terrace needs to have good drainage, but a wood terrace in particular will do better when the area is properly drained. Rooftop terraces, which have walls built around them, can find themselves becoming basins, which collect rainwater over time. Hillside terraces and some garden terraces will also need water drained or channeled away from the area to avoid things like erosion, which could shift the earth away from beneath the structure, causing it to become unstable.
Because wooden terraces are often built slightly raised up from the ground, any erosion may not be easily apparent until the footings of the terrace begin to loosen. Therefore, proper drainage needs to be installed beneath the structure to help ensure that no erosion takes place and that rooftop terrace designs do not become waterlogged.
Size and Shape
In some instances, the final size and shape of your terrace will be dictated by the area you install it on. For example, rooftop terraces often take the entirety of the roof, but in some cases may be used only take up part of the space.
Hillside terraces may have more room for unique designs, with multiple levels being built into the hill as it moves upward. Terraces surrounding pools will need to be large enough to accommodate the water area, as well as leaving enough room to maneuver around it.
In addition to the amount of space that you have, consider how you will ultimately use the terrace to determine its final size. For example, if you plan on using the terrace for entertaining, you’ll want to include enough space for furnishings, a grill, or possibly a bar. Terraces meant for enjoying a garden may be smaller, butting right up against the plants you wish to admire. A terrace used in place of a patio or deck may need to be large enough to accommodate a patio-style table or lounge chairs, while a terrace surrounding a pool may work best if there’s enough room for sunbathing.
One of the nicest things about using wood to create your terrace, as opposed to creating a patio or using other materials, is the fact that you can build things right into the design that can enhance its use. For example, the same wood you use to create the terrace can be used to build seating or benches right into the perimeter of the design. You can also build storage into the terrace, stairs or steps, walkways, wet bars, or tables. Using the same material throughout gives you a sense of continuity through the design and helps you use the entire space more effectively.
The Type of Wood
Any wooden structure built outdoors, from decks to terraces, share several considerations. Typical woods, like pressure treated pine, need to be treated to help them withstand the elements. They may also splinter over time, rot from excessive moisture and are prone to insect activity as well. To make the most of your wooden terrace, it therefore makes more sense to use a modified wood, which is resistant to these issues. Modified woods, like Kebony, require no additional maintenance such as staining or scraping. They don’t splinter and are resistant to moisture and rotting, so you can enjoy the terrace for longer without issue.
Modified wood also weathers to a beautiful silver patina over time, which enhances its looks when used in a garden or other natural setting.
Terrace designs are nearly as varied as the types of buildings and structures they can be built next to. Because the placement of the terrace can vary so much, so can the style and the way that it’s ultimately used. Get inspired to create your own terrace with these design ideas:
Private Terrace and Pool
Architect: grad™ lifetime decking Photo by: Ed Kingsford Photography
This wooden terrace uses a walkway built of the same material to make its way through the garden to the pool. The pool deck is elevated slightly, setting it apart from the seating and garden areas of the design, giving the entire area several different uses and a lot of definition. The slightly raised terrace design elevates you above the garden and provides plenty of room for seating, entertaining and sunbathing.
Architect: Private House Owner
This private wooden terrace is hidden around the back of the home. It makes great use of the natural outcroppings of rocks in the area, incorporating them right into the design. The wooden planks work perfectly with the area, complementing not only the rocks, but also the sea with the naturally weathered, driftwood gray color. The terrace is built in several levels, giving visitors varying views, as well as private spaces, such as the small gazebo at one end. This enables people to use the terrace for several purposes at once, perfect for entertaining.
Photo by: Salih Usta
Terraces don’t need to be large or grand to be enjoyable and functional. This two-level backyard terrace puts visitors right amongst the garden and trees. By being built right up to the edge of the fence and trees, this terrace makes use of every inch of available space. Separate areas for seating can offer multiple people the chance to relax and make the most of their time outdoors.
Build a Better Terrace
Wooden terraces allow you to access the outdoors in new and exciting ways. By complementing nature and making the areas more accessible, an outdoor, wooden terrace can help you maximize the use of your yard. Take these design considerations into mind when starting and create a terrace that suits you, your lifestyle and your property perfectly.