Taking on a deck installation project isn't as simple as describing your plans to a contractor. There are some things you'll want to consider before you get a job rolling, so here is a look at three items that should be on your checklist.
It's wise to grab some stakes and a ton of string to map out where your deck will go. Create a plan on grid paper, using each square to represent one square-foot of area. Measure things out in the real world based on your plans by putting the stakes at the corners and running string around the perimeter.
This will help you address three basic concerns. First, you'll be able to see whether the horizontal area of the deck is sufficient. Second, you'll see just how much of your yard is going to be covered by the deck. Finally, you'll identify problematic portions of your plan, such as having enough clearance for a basement door that's under the deck.
Most of the material choice boils down to maintainability. Pressure-treated wood is a wildly popular material because it's fairly cheap. Regular maintenance in the form of cleaning, staining, and resealing will be necessary, although there's always a risk that corrosion of the nails and metal fasteners may require deck repair work down the road. This especially applies if you reside somewhere with high salt content in the air, such as near the ocean.
PVC is the choice of the person who doesn't want to see a deck repair contractor for years. It weathers well in most conditions, but it can be prone to cracking in regions where cold temperatures are sustained throughout the winter. Price is the biggest downside for most folks, as PVC is usually the most expensive material.
Composite materials represent a middle ground. These are made from a mixture of wood and plastic, and they tend to be cheaper than PVC but more expensive than wood.
It's a good idea to tell your deck installers what sort of load you're planning. There's a big difference, for example, between having a huge deck that can host parties versus a small one for family needs. The same goes for putting benches, shades, tables, and cooking items on the deck. Calculate roughly what the peak weight on the deck will be, and tell your deck installers. They should then be able to determine how much support the deck will require.