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Humans love a snug cozy home. We also love to be out in the fresh air. Sometimes we try to combine the two. This is where the indoor-outdoor space comes in.
Sometimes we try to bring the outdoors indoors -- by having plants in our homes. We also try to bring the indoors outdoors, onto our decks and into our screened porches and gazebos.
A deck provides a floor that is almost as smooth as the floor inside a home (we want it a little less smooth so that it provides for a non-slip surface in the rain). We also need it to be slatted so that it drains well. The things we can keep on the deck can be anything that is waterproof. There are other things we can bring onto the deck as long as we remember to bring them in if it rains. This way we have a bit of our house outside. The deck provides the sturdy floor of the indoors but is open to the sky.
A gazebo or screened porch adds a little more indoors to the outdoors. Typically screened porches and gazebos have a roof, albeit a basic one, and then screened panels. Unlike a deck, this protects you from insects and from some rain, depending on the angle at which it is coming down. It can provide shade from the sun, depending on the angle at which the sun is coming down.
Whether you choose a deck or a screened porch depends on whether you prefer to have your space open to the sky or whether you prefer more protection. It is worth remembering that the addition of a porch to your house will make your house shadier. In Northern Virginia it can get pretty hot from the sun so the addition of a porch may help your indoor temperature. In Northern Virginia most of our winters are sunny so even in the winter you may not mind the extra shade provided by the porch. A deck does not shade the house, except the basement.
A gazebo is similar to a porch but is built at a distance from your house so does not shade your house.
You may prefer a porch if you want the profile of your house to change, or a deck if you want the profile to stay as it is. The cost, planning permission and permits for a porch, a gazebo and a deck so you will need to take these into consideration too.
Contact Hal Co Fences and Decks for more ideas and advice on decks, porches and gazebos.