Designing a Deck

A deck can be a great addition to any home. Providing a fantastic place to spend some time outdoors, decks are great for enjoying the sun from the comfort of home. However, designing and building one can be a massive project that may cause trouble for even experience craftsmen. Before jumping into construction, it’s important to take some time to plan and draft the deck to avoid any possible pitfalls.










Measure Twice, Cut Once


Having a general design laid out is the first step of building a deck. During the planning phase, it’s a good idea to keep a few design tips in mind.


  • Have a size planned. The old advice of measuring twice applies strongly to deck building. Before beginning any part of the process, draft up some measurements and have a firm idea of how big the deck is going to be. Keep in mind that no deck material doesn’t require some form of upkeep or cleaning, so a larger deck also means longer time spent on maintenance. However, if a large deck is desired, also consider how elevated it will be from the ground. Given enough elevation, the space underneath the deck can be used for storage when the project is complete.
  • Plan around accessibility. The deck needs to be easily accessible or nobody will be spending a lot of time on it. Though it may seem obvious, sometimes people jump into construction before considering accessibility only to later realize they’ve built their deck somewhat out of the way. A good location is usually around large sliding doors. In addition to considering where it attaches to the house, now is a good time to begin thinking about whether it will also have stairs attached for easy outdoor access. If there are pets living in the house, a fence might be a good idea for preventing them from running off.
  • Factor in safety regulations. Unless built at ground level, decks usually require a railing as a safety measure. When designing the railing, there are a few measurements to be aware of. A general rule of thumb is two allow for no more than four inches in between each horizontal slat to fit most building codes. Codes usually require railings to be between 36 to 42 inches, so any height in that area will be safe. However, a shorter railing may encourage people to use it a seat, completely defeating the purpose, so a taller railing is recommended. Though wood is usually the primary choice of materials, other railing options include stainless steel or glass paneling. If planning a glass railing, though, remember to keep things nice and easy around it or be prepared to be replacing it often.



Made of the Right Stuff


The material used to build a deck can add a lot of appeal and character to the project. Though traditionally made from wood, there are actually several different options available. Recently gaining popularity, composite material made from a blend of wood and plastic is an increasingly common choice due to its low maintenance needs. Unlike their wooden counterparts, composite decks do not require regular sanding or sealing. However, the blend does make them vulnerable to mold and mildew depending on the environmental conditions surrounding the deck. If made from composite material, the deck will probably require a few good scrubbing sessions throughout the year to keep it clean and safe.


If planning on a wooden deck, it’s important to remember that only certain types of wood lend themselves well to deck building. With a natural resistance to the elements, cedar and redwood are popular choices. For a more cost-efficient material, pressure-treated decking – wood that has been chemically treated to increase its weather resistance – offers a low-maintenance option that’s generally within a cheaper price range. Keep in mind any pets that may frequent the deck when deciding on a chemically treated material. Though there are usually other options available, most decks are made from pressure-treated decking.


Build a Deck to Expand Your Outdoor Living Space

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While making design decisions, remember that friends and family will probably be spending a lot of the warmer seasons on this deck. Designing something practical and cost-efficient is a good goal to have, but remember to also make it inviting and attractive. A great extension to any home, a pretty deck will have everyone sitting outdoors and enjoy the sun on any occasion.