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With Spring in full bloom, homeowners are taking advantage of the weather and prepping their outdoor living spaces for the summer season. One main hangout for many is the deck. “There are a handful of different low-cost deck trends for 2012, and homeowners can freshen up their existing space without breaking the bank by highlighting a few key elements,” explains Todd Hetherington, CEO of Century 21 New Millennium.

According to a survey by Trex Company, a composite deck company, 83 percent of Americans favor low-maintenance home improvement projects—and who can blame them? The following updates are as easy as they are wallet-friendly.

Rock the railing. “The railing is often the first thing guests see when they take a look at your deck from the yard or street view, so it’s important to realize that this is more than just a safety feature—although functionality is important, too,” remarks Hetherington. Make a statement and allow your railing to standout by switching up building materials. If you have a wood deck, it doesn’t mean you need to have wood railings. “Glass railings are hot right now,” says Hetherington. Want to pass on glass? Look into composite or aluminum.

Just because you have a wood deck, that doesn't mean you have to have wooden railings. Mix up your building materials to add dimension to your deck.

Pump up the posts. Your deck posts can get a quick revamp with post caps. “Planter pots are becoming increasingly popular,” says Hetherington. “Plant an herb garden or your favorite perennial right on your deck post.” You can also look into posts with built-in lighting—some are even solar.

Add spark to your spindles. The spindles between your rail posts, also known as balusters, can also be updated. Get a unique look by mixing and matching materials.

Love the lights. If you’re already proud of your outdoor space, spruce up your lighting to show it off at night. Look into recessed lights for the stairs, ornamental post lights, soft illuminating floor lights or eco-friendly solar options.

If you want to take on a bigger project and give your deck a major facelift, consider redoing the base. Natural wood continues to be popular, but if you don’t have the time or money for wood, you can consider composite decking. “Lots of consumers favor composite because it’s durable and low maintenance,” explains Hetherington. “And, many designs closely mimic real wood so you still have the aesthetic appeal.”

For more information on deck trends, please contact Century 21 New Millennium at move@c21nm.com, 800-382-1101, or Century 21 New Millennium.

CENTURY 21 New Millennium. Smarter. Bolder. Faster. CENTURY 21 New Millennium, www.c21nm.com, is a full service real estate brokerage company specializing in residential and luxury properties. In addition to its newest Washington D.C. location, the Virginia locations are in Alexandria, Centreville, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Gainesville, McLean, Stafford, and Woodbridge. The Maryland offices are located in Annapolis, Columbia, Dunkirk, La Plata, Lexington Park, Lusby and Waldorf. Its core services include: mortgage financing, investing, settlement services, property management, property insurance, global relocation assistance, and commercial real estate.