Rooftop decks can be a smart value-add to your home. Here are eight things to consider when planning a rooftop deck.

When it comes to determining the value of a residential property, square footage of living space is one of the primary considerations, but many homeowners forget that living space is not restricted to the interior of their homes. Outdoor living space is a cherished commodity and there is no question that it adds value to the property. This is particularly true in the case of rooftop decks, which are fast becoming a major value-added feature.

Rooftop decks open up views that are invisible from ground level, and at the same time they offer an opportunity to get away from the bustle of earthbound traffic. Building a deck on top of a building, however, requires that you think about some design parameters that don’t necessarily apply when you build a deck at ground level.

    To make rooftop decks usable and practical, a handy and convenient direct access route is important. Nobody want to have to climb a ladder to use a space, and carrying items up and down a ladder is ill advised. A roof top deck accessed by from an interior space will feel more like an integrated space in your home, where a rooftop deck accessed from an external stair will feel more like a getaway.

    Modern Penthouse Loft - HMH Architecture + Interiors
    © Modern Penthouse Loft – HMH Architecture + Interiors
    Tower House, David Coleman / Architecture
    © Tower House, David Coleman / Architecture
    Deck railings are a great way to improve the safety and appearance of your outdoor space. Solid walls, glass railing, or post and rail are all great options. Solid walls will offer more privacy, while glass and open rails will increase views. If you want to go with glass, keep in mind it will need to be cleaned.
    These roofs do double duty—and as such, they’re subjected to far more wear-and-tear than their restricted-access counterparts. The rooftop is going to get a lot of sun and weather exposure — select materials that can withstand the elements. Don’t be afraid to mix materials, as it will provide visual interest. Good material choices include composite or wood decking, concrete or stone pavers, turf and gravel. Make sure your rooftop surface is sloped to allow for proper drainage.

    Chicago Cubbies Retreat, Chicago Green Design, Inc.
    © Chicago Cubbies Retreat, Chicago Green Design, Inc.
    Harrisdale, Tim Davies Landscaping
    © Harrisdale, Tim Davies Landscaping
    Design your roof deck to include built-in furniture such as benches along the edges. Build in planters to accommodate the vegetation instead of using freestanding elements, which are less stable and can blow over in the wind. If you place chairs, a dining table or other furniture on your roof, chain or bolt it down and consider how your will store it off-season. Choose furniture made of durable materials that won’t quickly weather.
    Plants can make your deck more attractive, and create a much more inviting environment. Consider native vegetation such as grasses or wildflowers. These plants are low-maintenance and require less water than those that aren’t well-suited for your climate.
    Increase the use of your deck by mitigating natural elements that may otherwise limit its use. A tall wall on the windward side — solid or glass — can help protect from winds. Trellises and fabric shades are both good options for shade.
    With summertime right around the corner, nothing screams “best time of the year” like kicking back and relaxing. Transform your rooftop deck into a relaxing and restful retreat. Consider installing an under-counter refrigerator, a fireplace, or even a grill. All of these will make the space more inviting and more used.

    Tresarca, Assemblage Studio
    © Tresarca, Assemblage Studio
    Brighton Home, Mr. Mitchell
    © Brighton Home, Mr. Mitchell
    The key to good rooftop lighting is keeping in chill. Some low LED are all you need to see and they create a nice relaxed atmosphere. In addition, cities, like Boulder, have night’s sky ordinances, which prevent you from installing lighting that is facing upward.

    Contemporary Deck, dsSPACE Studio ltd
    © Contemporary Deck, dsSPACE Studio ltd.