West Des Moines residents enjoy their decks in different ways, whether they are relishing the peace and serenity of a morning cup of coffee, firing up the outdoor grill for a family meal, sunbathing, reading a book, or celebrating the summer holidays by hosting parties with friends. Ask anyone who spends a significant amount of time during the warm weather months on their deck, and he or she will tell you that it is time well spent.
Just as there are many ways to enjoy your deck, there are more designs and materials to consider when building or refurbishing one. From choosing an open or covered deck, to selecting pressure-treated lumber, wood-plastic composites or pre-fab materials, to sorting out colors and finishes, to contemplating a multitude of accessories that include furniture, grills, smokers, umbrellas and awnings — not to mention all of the options for ground level decks that may include pergolas, outdoor kitchens, bars and islands — the choices are staggering.
Those kinds of decisions are among the many that Mike Snuttjer of West Des Moines and his family made when they contracted K&V Homes to custom build their new home, which they moved into in 2008. Like other facets of the design and construction of his spacious home, he had specific ideas regarding what he wanted for a deck and adjoining patio, both of which his family uses frequently.
“Our contractor, Colin King, worked with us to modify the original house plan because it affected the amount of space on the west side of the house and the backyard. We shrank the house down a little to allow us room for a small backyard. It was a creative challenge for us to include a patio and deck, but I like to grill year-round and I wanted a place to do that,” says Snuttjer of his long, rectangular-shaped deck that measures about 20 feet long and 5 feet wide. “Colin had the idea for the deck for me to use my grill.”
Snuttjer says his deck is a “grilling deck” in that he uses his patio located below the deck, which includes a large table and chairs and a portable outdoor fire pit, to eat meals with his family and to entertain guests. He might pull up a chair occasionally to sit next to his grill to monitor his outdoor cooking, but it mostly is used as a transition space between his kitchen, which is easily accessed by sliding doors, and the patio.
“Even though I don’t sit on my deck as much as I do my patio, and it is not very big, it is very functional. Technically a person could sit out there, but I just don’t use it for that. I like how the overhang on the outside of the house covers my grill so that I’m not exposed to the elements when I’m grilling during all seasons. The deck itself wraps around from the driveway to the back door, which gives us another way to access it, so there are a lot of things that I like about it,” he says. “It’s also a good place to step outside quickly to check the weather.”
Snuttjer’s deck, which flows naturally from the house to the patio and is adorned by flowers and shrubs below it, features a few extra amenities, too. It includes a gas line that he doesn’t use because he prefers grilling with charcoal, but it is there if he needs to use it someday down the road. It also includes lighting with dimmer switches and outdoor speakers, as Snuttjer says he enjoys listening to music while grilling.
The deck, Snuttjer adds, allows him to indulge in one of his greatest passions: grilling year-round. From pineapple and vegetables, to meats such as steaks, burgers, brats, chicken and fish, the West Des Moines husband and father cooks it all outdoors.
“I’m out there grilling quite a bit during the spring, summer and fall, and during the winter I probably grill every weekend for a long stretch depending on the weather and my schedule. I’ll just shovel a path of snow to get to the grill if I need to,” he says. “I love it.”
Snuttjer’s wife will sometimes start the fire before he gets home from work so it has time to properly heat before he brings the food to his Weber grill.
“Sometimes we can’t wait for me to get home to fire it up so that we can stay on schedule with our family’s activities,” he says, noting how busy their two children are with school and extra-curricular activities. “When I get home, if I’m not grilling, I’m busy in the kitchen preparing the food.”
Snuttjer plans to add another combination coat of stain and sealer to his cedar deck this summer. He says that to enjoy a deck, you need to maintain it.
“I applied one coat to it when we had the house built and it looked good, but it needs another one after five years have passed,” he says. “The sun hits it the most on the west side of the house, and that’s where it needs another coat. It’s part of having a wood deck, but I don’t mind. As much as we use it, it’s worth it.”
Four years after Roger and Pat Wubbena moved into their mid-century brick ranch home in West Des Moines they, too, realized that they had a desire to build a deck to add to the enjoyment of their home. Instead of hiring someone to build it, Wubbena, who is retired, decided to take matters into his own hands. He bought the building materials, secured a permit from the city and spent about a week or so “in between trips to the mall” to build it this spring.
The cedar wood, platform deck measures at 9-by-12-feet and is located at the front of the house and is easily accessed by the front door and a sidewalk, as well as an entry point located on the south side of the house. It offers the couple a place to enjoy their morning cups of coffee and the newspaper and the opportunity to visit with neighbors while sitting on their outdoor metal furniture complete with comfortable cushions.
“I just love being out here and talking with neighbors,” says Pat Wubbena, whose flowers add some vibrant color to the wooden deck. “Every day the neighbors would stop by to see how Roger was doing when he was building it. It’s a very friendly neighborhood.”
Roger Wubbena designed the deck himself, which includes a built-in corner bench. He says he chose to build the deck with cedar wood instead of composite materials and that he did not want to stain it. He says the aroma of the unstained cedar wood is one of the enjoyable aspects of his deck.
“My wife uses it more than I do, but we also eat meals together on it,” he says. “We enjoy sitting out there in the morning or anytime that the weather is nice.”