Options in Hiding That Unsightly Area Under the Deck

Decks are a beautiful addition to a yard, but the area underneath a deck is not. Even if you do an excellent job of putting down ground cover under the deck, the area is still ugly. Garbage from the neighbourhood collects under the deck. Clean up is difficult. Spider webs flourish.

The area under your deck is a real eyesore! Plain and simple. Wouldn’t it be great if the underside of the deck was hidden from view? The mess of your yard gone from view.

Deck skirting is the best way to hide the area under a deck. Acting like a curtain for the area under a deck, hiding everything under the deck, removing the ugly view from the yard. With the added benefit of stopping garbage and animalsOpens in a new tab. from getting under it.

Hiding the area under your deck is not that hard. Ideally, skirting is added during construction but can be added later. The first step is to figure out the skirting design. How do you want the deck to look once it is done?

Before you run off and buy a couple of sheets of wood lattice, there are other deck skirting options.

Lattice skirting is a popular option for several reasons, which we should address. Reasons to keep in mind when designing and constructing deck skirting. Regardless of the material or design selected.

Essential elements when Skirting Your deck

Yes, you want to hide the underside of your deck. Yes, you want to change the view of your deck to something attractive but without destroying the deck or making deck care even harder.

The underside of a deck needs ventilation

Its been a long road for me to come to this belief. But the longevity of your deck, especially the joists, is connected to how well it is ventilated and can dry out.

However you choose to hide the underside of your deck, don’t forget ventilation. It doesn’t have to be a lot. A simple rule of thumb for low decks is 1 square foot (0.09 m2) ventilation for every 100 square feet (9.2 m2) of deck above. A 12’ (3.6m) by 8’ (2.4m) deck only needs one square foot of venting. Small but making all the difference.

It doesn’t have to be a big wall vent. It can be as simple as a ½” (12mm) gap between boards. Allowing air movement under the deck.

To understand more about under deck ventilation, click hereOpens in a new tab..

Along with ventilation, deck skirting needs to have access.

Access to the underside of your deck

I know all you can think of now is hiding the area under your deck. To cover it for you never need to see it again but.

But the time will come when you need access. The enclosed area under decks often become storage for the yard.

If you are planning to go under the deck regularly, then hinges and a door are of value.

But very few low decks, being less than two feet from the ground, need regular access. Save the hinges and door for the raised deck, where the area doubles as a garden shed. A low deck needs only an access panel, not a door.

But access is still needed for that time when your wife’s engagement ring falls between the decking. Or access rarely used extra material being stored under the deck. For those rare occasions when having access to under your deck is essential.

Access to the area under your deck needs not to be complicated. A simple panel that can be removed with four-barrel bolts or even backing off a few screws is fine, but plan ahead. Plan for access to under your deck. It is worth it.

My experience is that, more often than not, an access panel is all you need. But you want to construct one while building the skirting; otherwise, you will be ripping open the skirting to get underneath and leaving it a mess for weeks, months or even years. Making a worse eyesore than the area under your deck.

Hide the underside of your deck in a complimentary way

You are enclosing the underside of your deck to hide the mess. Hiding the ugliness of the area under the deck.

The skirting should never be the star. Your deck is, the role of the skirting is to hide and compliment the deck. Not distract or call attention to.

Select material and design that fits well with the look of your deck. If wood, often wood is best. Composite decking, with composite skirting.

Keep the skirting consistent with the deck, both in design, maintenance, and material. 

Finally, Skirting Budget

This may determine how you hide the area under your deck more than anything else.

Money is a beautiful thing that often helps to guide decisions. Removing options that have no place to be considered.

There are some exceptions where your deck skirting cost will exceed 10% of the cost of the deck. But 10% is a good working number to consider. This is both about being complementary and consistent.

If your overall deck costs $7 000, including railing, loose the one zero, and you have $700. Your deck skirting should cost around $700.

I have heard of less, but experience has taught me otherwise.

Also, the smaller the deck, the higher the percentage. The skirting cost for a 12’x8’ deck will be almost the same as a 16’x12’ deck but twice the decking cost. Making the skirting percentage higher for the smaller deck than the larger deck.

When it comes to hiding the area under your deck, we have a few readily available options.        

Material Options for Hiding the Area Under Your Deck

Some standard deck skirting material

They each hide the underside of your deck to different degrees but also have their own strengths and weakness in regards to ventilation, access, complimentary and budget.

Hiding with Lattice

This is the least hiding of skirting options available but can help to close off the area and distract the eye from looking under the deck.

With hiding the area under the deck, the smaller the lattice grid, the better. Privacy lattice is best. Which is available in both wood and vinyl lattice, but I have found vinyl to be more durable if probably installed. Vinyl also requires less maintenance.

Ventilation. Lattice skirting has the best ventilation of skirting options with its large holes.

Access. Super easy to make an access panel in lattice skirting. Especially if not framed. Back four screws out, and you’re in. Just as easy to repair.

Framed with battens, though, will increase the lattice skirting appearance and durability.

Complimentary. Quality wood lattice can look okay with a wood deck. A good idea with both wood and vinyl lattice is to set it back from the rim joist.  Then the emphasis is on the deck’s fascia board, not the lattice.

Budget. The most economical deck skirting option. A sheet of privacy vinyl lattice can cost less than $50. Ripped in half and braced with a few 2×4 can skirt a 12’x8’ (3.6m x 2.4m) deck for a little over a hundred bucks. Plus, whatever labour is required.

Within the budget for percentage for almost any deck. Adding batten and trim will dress it up, but the cost significantly.

Hiding with Fence Boards

A more solid skirting option, hiding the underside of the deck better. A simple design is hanging vertically off the rim joist or a little more work installed horizontally between posts. Finishing off a deck nicely.

Ventilation is easily achieved over time. Pressure-treated fence boards naturally dry and shrink over time. Even if installed tightly initially will often end up with a small ½” crack between boards allowing air circulation.

Access with fence board skirting will take a little more work. With the boards requiring a removable frame that can be detached from the skirting to provide access. Depending on the size the structure will increase the weight, making hinges advantageous. But a door will increase the cost and complications of the deck’s access.

Complimentary, being a simple design looking like a fence. Concealing the underside of the deck but not being the star of the deck.

Looking better on lower deck, being less than 2 feet, but can work for a higher deck when designed like the fence.

Budget, jumping up in cost for skirting being around $400 for a 12×8 deck. Still well within range for most wood decks. Costlier than lattice but with the added advantage of hiding the area under the deck better.

Hiding with Vinyl Siding

The area under the deck, one hundred percent hidden. Vinyl siding just like the siding on your house, will hide anything and everything under the deck. Blending the deck’s skirting in with the house. Assuming your home has siding.

Ventilation, because it’s a solid wall, ventilation is poor requiring a wall vent to be added. Strategic placement is important to create a cross breeze under the deck while also hiding them from view.

Access is increasing in complication with a vinyl siding skirting. A complete frame sheathed will be required to hang the siding off. On top of the vinyl siding needs edge trim to complete and allow for expansion and contraction. The edge trim makes a panel hard to maneuver and heavy.

Building a door is a possible solution, but that increases the complication and cost of the deck skirting.

Complimentary, vinyl siding skirting is more about functionality than design. Blending and tying in the skirting with the house, but the design is entirely different than the deck.

But with the advantage of low maintenance. With no staining or painting required. Simple spray off with the hose and you are done.

Budget is another advantage of vinyl siding skirting. A very cost-effective with for material being around $300 for a 12’x8’ deck. Under the 10% ratio for most decks. Labour will add to that, but installation is relatively simple, with only basic hand tools required. It could be a DIY project or given to a professional.

Hiding with Composite fascia

A good option for a composite deck. Using the same material, wrap around the deck’s rim and continuing it down to the ground in a horizontal board fashion. It can be designed as a flush wall or step back a couple of inches to be more subtle and allowing the deck to remain the star.

Ventilation, for under the deck with composite fascia skirting, is similar to fence boards, except you have no shrinkage. The fascia boards will need to be gapped ½” or so to allow air movement during construction. Composite expands and contracts but is based on the temperature, not seasonal drying out and shrinking over time.

Access will require a frame to be built to support the composite boards as they are not structural and will need framing supporting them. A small door can be designed as an access panel. A larger door will rapidly increase in weight requiring hinging, and full door construction as most composite material is heavier than wood.

Complimentary for composite decks only, as both the look and cost, make them undesirable with a wood deck. The advantage for a composite deck with using the same material it requires the same type and level of care as the rest of the deck.

Budget, cost of composite horizontal skirting quickly limit it to low composite decks. Material for a 12’x 8’ deck less than 2’ (0.6m) from the ground will start around $700 for basic composite. Upgrading to PVC board moves over to the $900 range for material plus installation.

With most decks, even composite, it will exceed the 10% ratio but is a nice low maintenance skirting option.  

Composite fascia requires special screws, which increase the cost along with skills in installation. If you’re comfortable with building the rest of the composite deck, the composite skirting will be fine but is not a product to learn on, as the boards are expensive, and installation technique is critical for the life of the skirting.

Hiding with Stone faux skirting

The classic look of an old porch skirting support with stones without the actual stones. There are engineered cement stones available, but the price makes polypropylene composite boards like Tando Stone more practical. Think composite decking designed like vinyl siding but with the appearance of stones.

Installation is more similar to vinyl siding. With pieces being fastened with built-in hidden clips while allowing for expansion and contraction similar to vinyl and composite. Just think of it taking siding to a whole new level.

Ventilation will require intentional design and installation of wall vents. With the challenge of blending it in or hiding it from view as stone walls don’t naturally include venting.

Access, again challenging as stone walls don’t include access doors. The best solution being a wood door hidden on a less visual side of the deck. As the stone’s panels do not create good removable access panels.

Complimentary, if you are going for the old farmhouse look, this might be the option for you. As the stack stone has a classic appeal to it and the appearance of strength. But it will not match the decking material or your house. A whole new material being brought into the design.

This is not a in the background skirting option. But is the focal point of the deck’s appearance from the yard. You are going for more than hiding the area under the deck to making a statement in the yard.

Budget for our low 12’x8’ deck material cost for faux stone skirting will be around $2300. Add to that labour to install it, which could easily put it close to the ratio of 50% or more of the deck’s cost. Not cheap, but a statement in the yard.

Cheaper than real stone but clearly not an economical option for deck skirting.

Conclusion of Hiding the Area Under Your Deck

Deck skirting is the solution to hiding the view of the area under the deck. Closing it in and creating a flattering look to the deck.

While you do that, don’t forget that the deck needs to breathe with ventilation, and you will need access under the deck. But with those elements included in the design of the skirtingOpens in a new tab., you are set to hide that ugly site.

O, but don’t forget. Don’t blow the budget on deck skirting. Whatever you pick to hide the area under the deck, don’t let it cost more than the deck. A good rule is to keep it around 10% of the deck cost.

That being said, enjoy your deck and your yard without that ugly view.

Ryan Nickel

A Red Seal carpenter, passionate about building decks to be enjoyed.

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