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Decked out: Local contractors share trends for outdoor spaces

FARGO - Last summer, Chris Lage built about 10 decks. This summer, he’s doing about 30, and he’s not the only contractor who’s seen a rise in the backyard additions.

“We’re starting to specialize in decks,” he says.

Lage, of the Fargo-based Chris Lage Construction, attributes the increase in business to the area’s new developments, especially those in West Fargo. Homebuilders aren’t including decks, but homeowners are realizing their value and adding them later, he says.

Josh Smook, a project designer for Deckmasters in Fargo, says it’s because people are spending more time outdoors, so they’re willing to invest in a more comfortable space for grilling and chilling.

According to local contractors including Lage and Smook, a few trends have emerged in recent years in deck-building.

Composite material. Scott Moen, owner of Moen Decks & Fence in Fargo, says man-made composite material has been around for at least 20 years, but, like anything else, it’s improved over time, and more people are opting to spend more upfront for a longer-lasting, lower-maintenance product.

“In this day and age, people don’t have a lot of time, so they’re opting to spend some more money on the low-maintenance, and then they don’t have to worry about it,” he says, adding that a traditional treated wood deck requires power-washing and staining at least every couple of years.

On average, composite costs two or three times the cost of treated wood, but Smook says homeowners get their money’s worth.

“Yes, they’re going to spend more money on it, but down the road, it’s going to pay off,” he says. “If you compare two identical homes, one with a treated deck and one with a low-maintenance deck, the one with the low-maintenance deck is always going to win out because the homeowner doesn’t have to do anything with it.”

Lage, who says the majority of his decks this year are composite, recommends the Trex brand.

“We try to push for the Trex decking … you’re paying a lot more for a better brand, a better product, but the replacement cost won’t come into effect for years and years. The product you’re getting is much better than going with some lower-end brands,” he says.

Both Joy Cossette of Fargo and Tim Polasek of West Fargo chose composite material for their new decks, Cossette’s last summer and Polasek’s just a month ago.

Cossette, whose home is about 25 years old, updated her deck for a couple reasons: She likes to entertain with it, and she knew it’d increase her home’s value.

“It’s maintenance-free, and it looks nice,” she says.

Polasek, offensive coordinator for the North Dakota State University Bison, and his wife chose composite for similar reasons.

“We thought it had a better chance to hold up over the course of 10 to 20 years,” he says, adding that they use it for coaching socials, grilling, relaxing and reading.

Added features like grill bump-outs, benches and storage spaces. Coach Polasek included a 6-by-4-foot grill bump-out in his deck’s design so it’d take up less space. Lage and Moen say grill bump-outs are becoming more popular, as are other special features like built-in benches, spots for planters, and storage spaces.

Other homeowners get more creative with design.

Smook says Deckmasters is working on a custom deck for a pair of cat-lovers with a built-in “cat walk,” and they did another that included a playhouse for a family.

LED lighting. Moen says LED lighting is another rising trend.

“They last forever,” he says. “You can have them on seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for 12 years and they’ll never burn out.”

Moen Decks & Fence included LED lighting in the Polaseks’ deck.

“It’s real light lighting, which adds something to the look,” Polasek says. “It looks great at night.”

Meredith Holt

Meredith Holt is a features/business reporter for The Forum who covers topics in health, mental health, social issues, women's issues, arts and entertainment, food and more. She also writes a column on health and wellness, body image and media representationShe was a copy editor/page designer for six years prior to joining the features team in March 2012.

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