Deck Design Ideas And Tips For Your Home

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    Personalise your deck with painted furniture and fun accents. Pick a colour scheme that enhances your home's exterior, and try updating old or plain metal furniture with new hues. Other colourful accessories, such as pillows, throws, vases, and bowls, can also cozy your outdoor seating.


    Most builders suggest that your deck should be no larger than 20 per cent of the house's square footage. It is so that the deck does not overwhelm a home visually. It is because, of course, it is up to you. Feel free to feel you need a larger deck that takes up more of your yard space!

    Essentially a creative deck is a slideshow, or presentation, that serves as a mood board and illustrates the basic story of your idea.

    Deck design is a very personal task. Your home's style should be a major factor, or it will feel out of place. Over the years, we have seen each metropolitan area develop its design style. One builder takes an idea from another and, eventually, you have a flavour all its own that develops in your city. Then, you have a wide selection of manufacturers that have created as many as 2-10 product designs for you to choose from. There has been no lack of creativity in the deck industry over the past 5-10 years.

    Site & Views - House, Yard, Elevation

    The most common mistake in deck design is simply attaching a deck to fit an existing ledger board or replacing an exact copy of an old deck. This approach will limit your options and stifle the creative process. Homebuilders often add ledger boards and decks as an afterthought. It may not even be attached properly. 

    The house door will serve as the primary access to your deck. The position of your door will determine your deck's initial elevation. 

    Low decks (less than 30" above grade) do not require guardrails. They look relatively squat and massive. The ground under a low deck will be concealed to view but can become small animals or insects. Consider ventilation because the more a low deck can "breathe," the more mould- and mildew-resistant it will be.

    Higher decks will appear more lightweight, like a floating platform. Guardrails will be required, and long stretches of stairs are usually necessary. High decks offer an opportunity to showcase views of the surrounding landscape. The space underneath the deck is a great place for storage or a screened-in area for rainy days. 

    What kind of views do you have to work with - a breathtaking snow-capped mountain peak or an ugly water tower? Spend some time in the space at different times of day to get an idea of what kind of daylighting you can expect. Do you have any trees that provide spotted shade? If not, you may want to incorporate a shade feature. Is your yard flat or sloping? Do you have a pool, patio, hot tub or garden? 

    A good design will accentuate the site's advantages, whereas a poor design will bring attention to its flaws. The shape of your lot may affect the size and positioning of your deck. Landscaping, small trees, vents and AC Units can be adjusted if necessary. Sometimes large trees can be framed around your deck design, as well.

    Establishing Your Wants And Your Needs

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    Most people want to design their deck but often do not know how to start. It is how we suggest you start. Try exploring the big picture. Don't get hung up on details. Use your imagination. If you are still saying things like "I want a deck just like our last house," you are not trying hard enough.

    Don't be afraid to think big and bold. Perhaps you would enjoy owning your private terraced oasis, an elegant veranda, or other outdoor space. This approach will typically lead to better results than deciding on a replica of your neighbour's deck.

    You probably won't be able to realise all of these visions fully, but, in the end, it will be worth it if you can blend a few of them into the final design. So now, let's decide upon what you need to accomplish your dream deck. Do you need a way to access the backyard from an elevated patio door? Do you need a good place to keep your grill? Do you need a space for outdoor summer dining, relaxing and entertaining? Recognising and negotiating your needs and wants will be critical in expressing your design intentions.

    Traffic And Stairs

    Think about how foot traffic will flow across your deck.

    Make sure that your furniture and grill arrangements do not interfere with movement. Your stairs and the house door should be easy to locate and free to access from any area of your deck. 

    Guardrails will usually define the perimeter on taller decks. A short rail or benches can help guide traffic and maintain views for a low deck where guardrails are not required. The interior spaces of the deck need to include aisles for movement.

    Changing the direction of decking can be a useful technique to separate spaces. Pointing diagonal decking in a certain direction is a subtle cue to direct people's movement path. 

    Your deck stairs will anchor your deck to the yard and be a primary access point.

    Measure the height of your deck and use our Stairs Calculator to determine the number of steps you need. Long sets of stairs can be gently wrapped around a deck or split by a set of landings to reduce their awkwardness. Avoid landing stairs underneath a deck frame because of headroom issues. 

    Multiple levels can be used to move people across your deck in interesting ways gracefully, but be aware that severe and sudden changes in elevation are awkward-looking and dangerous. Likewise, steps that form irregular angles or are difficult to see may cause a tripping hazard. For low decks, consider stepping down around an angled corner with a cascading wrap around the stairs to help blend the deck into the yard.

    Decking Choices

    Choosing the right type of decking for your design is important. Some people prefer the look and feel of real wood like cedar, redwood or exotic hardwoods over artificial materials. Other people are fans of low-maintenance materials that offer a variety of colours and textures.

    Researching decking materials is key to making the right decision for you and your lifestyle.

    Hidden fasteners will eliminate screw or nail placements on the floor.

    Wood decks will need to be stained to protect the wood from cracking and warping.

    Various stain colours are available, from natural to deep reds, browns and greys.

    Colour is a very important part of the design.

    The playful contrast with a border can add a spark of life to any deck. Large decks with broad expanses of redundant floor treatment often will appear too plain. Decking applied diagonally or in a herringbone pattern can focus attention towards a particular space or view. Some designers even create a unique floor inlay to add some character to their deck.

    Go Ahead, And It's All Free!

    Tens of millions of decks have been built over the past few decades, so there's no lack of well-tested deck design ideas. Check out's free deck plans or our free deck designer, which you can easily customised to fit in your yard and against your house.

    And, spend some time scanning our large "Pictures" section, where you'll find many great deck designs. If you see something you like, co-opt it for your purposes.

    Plan For The Way You Live

    Start with general ideas of what the deck can do to enhance your life. What will you use the deck for? For instance, if you're not a party animal, maybe you want to emphasise intimate gathering and dining areas. Go a little wild with an outdoor kitchen if you love to grill.

    Ask family members what they'd like from your future deck. Finally, consider design elements, such as a friendly conversation pit, container gardening, a spa to soak in, or just a clear path for taking out the garbage.

    Plan For Use Areas And Traffic

    Once you've got your priorities right, plan a deck that allows enough space for the activities you enjoy and comfortable traffic pathways between and around them. Often, these areas will be visible only after the furniture has been set out.

    Your deck has specific "rooms" for dining, lounging, cooking, and mingling. Ensure that there will be ample room for chairs around a dining table, small end tables or a coffee table next to lounge furniture and potted plants.

    Materials You Will Maintain And Enjoy

    For the finish materials - the decking, railing, fascia, and perhaps skirt - many people today choose to spend a hefty amount for composites, PVC and other materials that are low maintenance. Others prefer to save their money and build with inexpensive treated or (somewhat less inexpensive) cedar.

    Wood surfaces often need to be pressure-washed and sealed once a year. But, if you prefer the natural look and don't mind regular maintenance, it may be your choice.

    Shape And Size

    Some say that a deck should be no larger than 20 per cent of the house's square footage not to overwhelm a house visually. But, if you spend plenty of time on it, and if it is divided up into clearly different rooms, a larger deck can look and feel quite at home.

    There's nothing wrong with a rectangular deck, but consider adding pizzazz with angles or curves. They will take additional time to build but can make a deck feel special rather than cookie-cutter. Design with a "theme and variation" approach so that a certain angle or curve gets repeated, perhaps with different sizes, at various places.

    The Right Cooking And Noshing Spaces

    Plan an elaborate outdoor kitchen with a counter and several cooking appliances if you love to cook outdoors and interact with people as you grill. You might want to include an eating counter with stools just opposite the cooking area, so people can snack, sample and offer advice while you cook.

    If you'd rather keep food prep simple, you may want to make a small alcove off to the side, with enough room for a grill. Or, you may choose to do all your cooking indoors. There's no law saying you have to own a grill.

    Get The Views Right

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    Consider the view, both from the deck and from inside the house. If there is a bulky railing between you and what you want to see, your deck will be a less inviting place. Here are some possible solutions. First, step the deck down with platforms or descending sections, which will lower the railings or make it possible to do without them.

    Or, choose railings with thin balusters or even glass panels. Also, if a certain view pleases more than others, plan your deck's "rooms" so that people will naturally turn in that direction.

    Bridge the House and the Yard

    You may choose to build a deck in a style that blends with the house, or you may prefer to make your deck a different place, emphasising its outdoorsy ambience. Where the deck steps down to meet the yard, it often looks and feels best to have some transitional materials.

    Stones, pavers and bricks almost always look handsome next to a deck, whether made of natural wood or artificial materials. A deck-and-patio combination is a sure-fire winner.

    Vertical Elements

    We think of a deck as a floor, but the upright components - the railing, skirting and overhead structures - actually make the most visual impact. There are a dizzying array of railing designs and components to choose among.

    Take your time to choose a railing that suits your space perfectly. If a deck is raised, you may want to install decorative skirting to cover its underside. If there is enough room for a patio below, consider installing a stay-dry system, so the patio can be a retreat when it rains.

    Overheads And Planters

    Unless you live in an area with perfect weather, you will likely enjoy your deck more in the summer if you have a shade structure. A pergola is the most common solution. It provides varying degrees of shade determined by how closely spaced the rafters are to each other.

    Where the sun is oppressive, consider an awning of some sort. Most decks also benefit from a planter or two. Or, plan on setting out large pots for your plants. Planters can be placed as a part of a railing system or joined to a bench.

    Balcony-Style Deck With A View

    One of the most important considerations when planning an outdoor deck is placing the deck in a location that offers a great view. Perched on a hill overlooking a river, this balcony-style deck makes excellent use of its surroundings.

    The deck is simple, comfortable, and all about that breathtaking view. A deck positioned such high needs to have protective railings. This deck uses a glass partition that doesn't obstruct the view.

    Pool And Hot Tub Deck

    Create a cohesive space around a pool and hot tub with decking at one level. The hot tub is sunken into the deck for a clean and uncluttered look in this space. Plus, the deck's shape conforms to the architecture of the house. It's accessible from multiple rooms and flows seamlessly with the floors inside.

    Combined Deck And Patio

    On the fence about whether to install a patio or build a deck? Sometimes you can do both. The deck and patio separate this relatively small outdoor space into different areas. The wooden deck is for dining and relaxing, while the patio features several planters to create a garden oasis. The dual flooring adds layers of colour, pattern, and texture to the whole space.

    Hardwood Rooftop Deck

    Hardwoods like teak and iroko (pictured) are beautiful as decking surfaces. Most are insect- and weather-resistant, are sturdy, and can last for decades. It makes hardwoods ideal for rooftop decks, which can take a beating if they have no shelter from a structure or overhead trees.

    In general, rooftop decks won't eat up yard space. And they sometimes are the most private area for a deck, especially in a city.

    Wide Deck Steps

    Rather than building one flat surface, creating a deck with wide, large steps can have some advantages. For example, the three wide steps on this ipe wood deck also serve as outdoor seating, made comfier with thick square pillows. Plus, they could be a great place to display planters, with the different step heights giving the planters a tiered effect.

    Screened-In Deck

    In regions that experience frequent rain or are prone to mosquitoes and other insects, an enclosed deck satisfies the desire for an outdoor room while keeping you protected. Fibreglass is the most popular and inexpensive screen material for outdoor spaces.

    Other choices include aluminium, stainless steel, copper, bronze, and sun-blocking screens. For additional comfort in hot regions, add an outdoor ceiling fan.


    So, whether you're looking for a modern touch or something more traditional, we've got the perfect deck design ideas and tips to help get you started. Remember that while it may be tempting to go all out when designing your deck, it's important to consider your needs and your space's limitations. With these considerations in mind, happy decking!

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