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Roof and ceiling take deck to another level

| Saturday, April 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
A roof over a deck allows the deck to be used for more months and in different weather.
Quaker State Construction
A roof over a deck allows the deck to be used for more months and in different weather.
A ceiling under a deck, over a patio, protect the patio from rain and melting snow.
Hendrickson Construction
A ceiling under a deck, over a patio, protect the patio from rain and melting snow.

Roofs are topping more and more decks, and sometimes even find a home below the boards.

David Dickson from Quaker State Construction in Carnegie says adding roofs to the decks he builds has increased 150 percent in the past year.

Don Tomlins, namesake of Decked Out By Don in Washington County, says he adds a roof “more often than not” even though the work can virtually double the price.

Dickson says the reason for the interest is that it “brings the family room outside” and can add “as much as 30 percent” to the number of days the deck can be used.

Roofs of another fashion also are creating different — and more — use for the space below the deck.

Under-deck ceilings are being added frequently to provide cover when the deck is a full story over the ground below, creating a patio or even a screened-in porch, say Dusty Hendrickson from Hendrickson Construction in Sewickley Hills and Randy Shoup from Alternative Innovations, which has a shop in Carnegie and a showroom in Kennedy.

Those ceilings are designed to be installed under the deck to route away water and melting snow.

Dickson and Aaron Karas from Extreme Decks in Bridgeville say they install such coverings as well as roofs. Most customers will not use both, they say, being satisfied with the shelter a roof gives both levels.

But there are times both are needed, Karas says.

“Sometimes wind will blow rain 30, 40 percent onto a deck,” he says. “If you want to stay dry in that patio, you might need a ceiling.”

Hunting for cover

Dave Dickson says a roof allows a deck to be used longer during the year.

“I'm out there cooking in the winter,” he says. “It's cold and I'm running in and out, but there's no snow on the grill.”

Such protection is not without cost. He says adding a roof to a deck costs between $12,000 and $20,000, doubling the price of a deck.

Adding a roof to an existing deck is not always possible because the vertical posts holding the roof need to come down to the posts holding up the deck. That alignment may not be available.

Tomlins agrees a roof adds a big price to the deck job. He says he is bidding on a deck-and-roof job that will total $30,000, which is not an uncommon amount.

He says the price keeps the work out of the range of many homeowners.

“The people who build them are the people who have money,” he says. “Banks don't want to give out loans for those kind of jobs.”

Karas says the money issue will force some homeowners to “do one job one year and then come back for the other job the next year.”

But he sees the worth in the job.

“If you have new construction, most times they have torn down the trees, so this gives you some cover,” he says.

Dickson says maintenance on deck roofs is minimal and they reduce upkeep on the decks themselves because the decks no longer are covered by rain or snow.

More than a ceiling

While roofs do the job above decks, ceilings accomplish similar ends below.

Under-deck ceilings create a look like those indoors, but Hendrickson says the most important function is different. Their most important job is to catch water and keep the space under the deck dry.

“It creates use for the home patio,” he says. “Now you can sit there when it's raining. You can stay out of the sun. You can use it as a little room next to the pool, if that's the case, or you can use it as a place to keep an eye on the kids as they play.”

These ceilings are designed to catch and route water into gutters, then take it elsewhere, sometimes linking into the home's gutter system.

Even though they are creating a ceiling, Hendrickson says the main function is to divert water. Some customers want to add a ceiling there to cover wiring for fans or lamps. In that case, some form of soffit would work just as well, he says.

Karas says many people do not understand that use; most see them as ceilings and not rain catchers.

Shoup, however, says business is picking up “even in a weak economy” because homeowners are looking for more and varied use for their homes.

He says projects run about $12 to $15 a square foot, although costs vary because of work that might need to be done to a particular deck.

He also admits his price might be a little higher than some because he uses a material called Gavalume, which is a mix of galvanized steel and aluminum.

Hendrickson, however, is pleased with the result of a heavy-gauge aluminum he uses for about $11 a square foot.

Dickson says he finds his ceiling projects run between $3,000 and $8,000 and interest in them has increased mostly as a way “to make the patio into a sunroom.”

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

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