Rooftop decks are highly sought after on homes with flat or partially-flat roofs. Common in urban areas, rooftop decks offer a birds-eye view of your surroundings, save precious space and can even help lower your monthly cooling or heating bills thanks to insulative possibilities.
Many homeowners find that rooftop decks are very inviting to guests and make for a popular entertainment space. Others find that their rooftop deck is the perfect spot for container or raised bed gardens, allowing them to increase the greenery on their property and perhaps even grow some vegetables, without tearing up their attractive lawns.
Regardless of what reason prompted you to consider a rooftop deck for your home, this project is certainly not one to be taken lightly. Variances in construction and other elements naturally make rooftop decks a bit more complicated to construct. It goes without saying that you will want to hire a professional contractor for this project, preferably one experienced in rooftop deck construction.
Before you get ahead of yourself, take a moment to consider these five factors of rooftop deck construction.
1. Triple check building laws and HOA restrictions
The very first step in rooftop deck construction is determining whether you can actually have a rooftop deck in the first place. Check any and all building laws for your local area, especially if you live in a community where homeowner association rules must be adhered to. Any local contractor will be able to assist you in determining what regulations for rooftop decks apply to your region.
2. Ensure working space for construction is adequate
Typically, rooftop deck construction requires more working space than a ground-level deck. You'll need to determine how the crew will access your roof, whether that's by interior stairs leading to the roof or outdoor scaffolding. Not all, but some homes may even need crane access for their rooftop deck, which means you must have enough space for the crane to move around trees, existing outbuildings, power lines, or other obstructions.
3. Plan for existing or new tree landscaping around the deck
(Secret Rooftop Garden, by ARK NET AS, photo by Jacob Buchard)
Trees can be a very important part of your property landscaping when it comes to a rooftop deck. Trees provide natural shade from the sun and add an attractive, natural ambiance to a rooftop deck space. Not to mention, they provide a bit of privacy from neighbors. Depending on the location of the trees on your property in relation to where you want the deck, you may either need to cut down some trees or make a plan to plant new trees for future benefits.
On the subject of greenery, strongly consider having your contractor include built-in plant containers into your deck. Container plants and shrubs can help provide the same benefits of privacy and shade when situated around the perimeter of your deck.
4. Give thought and consideration to selecting the right decking material, verifying the manufacturer’s warranty applies to rooftop installations
(ProSiebenSat.1 Media Group's rooftop deck, photo by Salih Usta)
Your choice of deck flooring is even more important for rooftop deck construction than it is for ground-level decks. Rooftop decks will experience harsher and prolonged exposure to the elements, including sun and wind. Not all decking is well equipped for rooftop installations so make sure to do your research before making a selection.
PVC, vinyl and composite decking are all likely to experience issues with such direct sun exposure and limited airflow. Not to mention that they will be very hot and uncomfortable on bare feet. Pressure-treated wood can splinter, requires a lot of upkeep and typically requires 12 inches of clearance underneath making it not well suited for most rooftop decks. Hardwood decking can be quite expensive and isn’t for homeowners seeking an eco-friendly option. Plus many of these options are not intended for rooftop installations and could experience major performance problems that may not be covered under warranty. A superior decking material for these types of projects would be modified wood.
Modified wood requires very little maintenance aside from cleaning, is cool to the touch, not prone to splintering and ages to a stunning silver patina. Better yet, you can use modified wood for all aspects of rooftop deck construction: flooring, siding, stairs, railings, benches, pergolas - anything you would build using wood you can use modified wood for which creates a beautiful and cohesive design for your rooftop living space.
5. Connect your rooftop deck to existing ground-level deck
(Kragero Resort Spa Hotel, by Lund Hagem Arkitekter)
If you have an existing ground-level deck, it's worth thinking about connecting it to your new rooftop deck. A two story deck design is eye-catching and can be a valuable addition to your property. There is no better time to do this than during new rooftop deck construction. Having an outdoor staircase leading from the deck up to the rooftop makes entertaining guests easier, as they won't need to rely on the interior stairs of your home.
Also think about any other construction work you might need for your rooftop deck, such as a sliding door, built-in outdoor kitchen or bar, or a pergola.
Rooftop deck construction might be a bit more elaborate than a traditional deck, however, most times you’ll find the process is fairly straightforward if you're working with a professional and your home's roof is already structurally sound. These five ideas presented above are a great place to start in deciding whether a rooftop deck is feasible and how to get the most out of your remodel.