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FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2007
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Building a deck, escaping heat

Dear Jim: I want the children to spend more time outdoors in our yard. We have a patio, but it is awfully warm in the sun. How can we design a deck adjacent to the house so it will not get uncomfortably hot? Jeff C.

Dear Jeff: A concrete or paver patio is ideal during spring and fall because it absorbs the sun’s heat. During summer though, its high thermal mass keeps it uncomfortably warm, often well past the children’s bedtime. It also radiates heat up to your house walls making your air conditioner run harder.

Proper deck design accomplishes several goals. It provides a reasonably cool, comfortable location for outdoor activities. If it is properly located, it can shade your patio and make it more comfortable. It can also shade your house walls and windows to keep your house cooler.

There are many deck designs from which to choose, but you should select one that meets the criteria of a “solar deck” design. This requires that the deck have some sort of roof, full or partial, and at least one wall on the most sunny side. With these two features, both your deck and your house stay cooler and your air conditioner runs less.

The key to designing an efficient sun-blocking deck wall is building it so natural breezes still pass through it. The specific wall design depends upon your location (latitude) and the orientation of your house and deck to the sun.

In northern locations, the sun is not as high in the sky as in southern ones. Also, the sun is highest in the sky from south at noon and is lower when shining from east and west. Check local sun position charts or just make a cardboard mini-model to test the sun angles.

Design the wall with eight-inch wide lumber used as louvers. Tilt them and space them accordingly so they block the intense sun from striking your deck and house. Building a roof or pergola over the deck using the same tilted louver concept is also effective and provides the most shading. Use no-maintenance alternative lumber materials for the roof and its louvers.

Installing roll-up solar screening is another option if building a wall is too difficult. This screening is durable and is available in various weave densities depending upon how much sun you desire to block. Hanging some planters from the deck roof also helps to cool the air naturally around the deck.

Another option is building a screened gazebo kit. It can be freestanding or be attached to the sunny side of the deck. This is attractive, its roof blocks the sun and its screening stops insects. Many easy-to-assembly gazebo kits are available.

The following companies offer gazebo kits: Old World Gazebos, (877) 442-9267, www.gazebos.com; Vixen Hill, (800) 423-2766, www.vixenhill.com. Alternative lumber materials: Master Mark, (800) 535-4838, www.mastermark.com; Timbertech, (800) 307-7780, www.timbertech.com; and Trex, (800) 289-8739, www.trex.com.

Dear Jim: We live on a corner lot and get quite a bit of road noise through our old patio door. I am trying to decide whether to replace it with another sliding one or double swinging doors. Which is quieter? Jen S.

Dear Jen: Over the long haul, you are probably better off with swinging doors if blocking road noise is your major concern. These doors close with a compression seal or even a magnetic seal, so they remain very airtight.

Most noise comes in from leaky seals, but the glass type and window size also affect noise transmission. Choose doors with the least amount of glass you really need and with inert gas in the gap between the glass panes.

Send inquiries to James Dulley, The Decatur Daily, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.

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