Having a deck is a wonderful thing. Being up above ground means you can keep a better eye on your kids or pets, or just enjoy the view. Being raised up also keeps some of the humidity down that rises from the ground on hot days. After a while, you may wonder about the space under the deck.
After all, it’s at least partially covered, and it seems to be going to waste. If you have only a small tool shed or no shed at all, you may want to convert this space for storage. How can you make under-deck storage, especially if you have a low deck?
Let’s look at 5 ideas: Lattice panels, hinged access panels, sliding drawers, hinged access panels and cold storage will maximize the space you have.
5 Under Deck Storage Ideas for Low Decks
1] Removable lattice panels – While you may have thought of enclosing your under-deck space, you may not have thought of removable panels. These come in very handy, however, to hide garbage cans, for instance. They can easily be removed when you need to take the cans out to the street.
Another use is to hide your exterior air conditioning unit. While many don’t see the need to hide these, sometimes they are just an eyesore, especially when they are the only thing on one side of the house. The lattice panels keep sufficient airflow going to the unit, while the panels can easily be moved when the unit needs to be serviced.
You’ll need to set 4 x 4 posts into concrete to hold your lattice panels. Plan to dig holes at least a foot deep. Allow for the height of your chosen panels. Use pressure-treated lattice and wood for everything, or you can use vinyl lattice panels. Make sure the tops of the posts are level with each other. Attach keyhole hanger screws to your posts.
If you are planning to use more than one, use two on the center post. Remove the hangers from the screws, then make a frame around the panels from 1 x 6s. Attach the hangers to your frames and you can easily remove the panels from the posts. Paint all the wood to blend in with or accent your house.
2] Hinged access panel – This is great if you have a low deck. Even if you already installed lattice to hide or enclose the underside of the deck, you can remove part of one panel for this. Frame your lattice panels with 1 x 6 wood, making sure that they aren’t too long to allow for good clearance on the bottom when attached. Then attach them to your deck skirting.
Hang the one you want for an access panel with hinges so that it swings upward. Use either three or four-inch T-hinges or strap hinges. For sufficient support, two hinges per panel are enough unless your panels are eight feet long or longer. Some people install all the lattice panels with hinges to permit easy access to any part of the deck underside.
3] Sliding drawers – There are kits available with all the hardware you need to actually build sliding drawers under your deck. This is great for an under-low-deck storage idea. The hardware allows for varied sizes of drawers. Along with all the hardware, track and handle, the kit includes a PVC membrane to cover the top and keep your items dry. You can use your choice of lumber and paint it to match the deck. People with lattice around the underside of the deck even face the front of the drawer with a lattice to match.
4] Hinged doors – If you have a low deck, you can use lattice panels set horizontally. Since your deck supports may be too far apart to support the panels, you may need to set additional posts or use H-molding to keep the panels together with a stake for support. If you have a slope, you may want to cut the bottom of the panels to match the grade.
You’ll want to use a deck support for one side of the hinged panel if possible. Make a door frame from 2 x 4s and attach it to your deck skirting with galvanized deck screws. Cut a lattice panel to fit your door frame. Attach your hinges and a latch. You may need to fill in with lattice between your door frame and the deck support.
5] Cold storage – An under-deck storage box is great for utilizing available space, especially under a low deck. These boxes also make great cold storage spaces during winter. Many types of weatherproof storage bins are available that will fit under your deck. Some are even sold as deck boxes. While they are designed to be used as storage on top of the deck, there’s no reason they can’t be also used under the deck. Using these also negates the need for installing a drainage system or other protection to catch rain dripping down from between the deck boards onto your items. If you have enough height for a full shed read my article How to Build an Under Deck Storage Shed.
How Do You Close Off the Bottom of a Deck?
You can use the aforementioned lattice panels, solid wood, horizontal wood strips, or any one of a number of ideas to hide items under your deck. What you need to consider first, however, is how to keep those items dry. While you can just cover anything under your deck with tarps, this can be quite awkward, especially with a low deck.
There are systems available using plastic or aluminum panels to catch rainwater and guide it out to the edge of the deck. You can install a kit yourself or use professional installation. Even without a kit, you can buy plastic or fiberglass corrugated panels to channel the water. It’s best to get advice on the type most likely to withstand the elements for the longest period of time. Basically, you attach a strip along the back of your deck underneath, then use shims to make sure you have a slope of at least an inch or two to the outer edge of your deck.
Using screws along with neoprene washers to attach the panels will help keep them waterproof. Make sure your panels extend past the wall under your deck, or you can install a gutter at the end with a downspout at one end to channel the water where you want it.
If you need some outdoor storage but don’t feel the need to get a shed, the space under your deck can be used for plenty of items, even with a low deck. Even with a shed, you may want to keep a few things under the deck for quick access. With a little ingenuity and perhaps paint, your enclosure will also make your deck and home more attractive. Investigate the possibilities.