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What Is a Roof Deck?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2014
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A roof deck is a rooftop patio or garden area. These outdoor, constructed spaces are located on the top of some homes, but are known mainly for being connected to the rooftop level apartments known as penthouses. Many of these roof gardens are attractively landscaped as well as finished with fencing for safety reasons.

Modern styles of roof deck fencing may be in clear acrylic or tempered glass to allow the view to be seen more clearly. This clear type of fencing not only helps provide more unobstructed views of water, forest or cityscape, but tends to create a more spacious look to roof decks. Other kinds of fencing for rooftop decks include metal or wooden railings or slatted designs.

The deck itself is often made of wood or vinyl. Vinyl provides a waterproof coating to a roof deck, while wood strips to form the decking may be coated with sealers or other waterproofing products. Roof decks in warmer climates may be covered with terra cotta or other types of tile.

Roof deck construction must be strong and solid to support the weight of people walking on it. Some roof decks have a partial roof, but many are uncovered. Patio tables with umbrellas to protect against sun and rain may be used on a rooftop deck. Benches, chaises, barbecues and planters are other popular furnishings for roof decks.

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Entertaining and relaxing are common uses for rooftop deck spaces. In many ways, a roof deck is like a large apartment balcony without the underside of the balcony above, or the overhang of the roof, blocking the skyward view. Having a rooftop deck in the city can be especially pleasant, as it allows people to enjoy the outdoors without having to take a long elevator ride and walk or drive to find green space.

Container gardening is common on roof decks. The planters may be made of many different materials such as wood or clay. Trees, flowers and vegetables may be grown on a rooftop deck, depending on the climate as well as the soil and drainage used. Lighting is a part of most rooftop decks. It's often attractively placed to become a part of the roof deck's landscaping.

Some large roof decks feature a swimming pool. A hot tub or tennis court may also be part of a rooftop deck. Many upscale hotels have a roof deck with such amenities for their guests to enjoy. The top deck of a cruise ship may feature more than one swimming pool as well as tennis and volleyball courts.

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