How to Design a Deck

Modern Wooden Deck

If you want to design a deck to fit in with the style of your home and garden, you should consider all the functions it offers from entertaining your family and guest, dining or relaxing.

Should you strive for creating a beautiful deck, there are many things you should take into consideration before you start designing it to achieve an outlining of how to plan and build the space.

Choose the style of your deck

Modern Wooden Deck
Modern Wooden Deck

In order to determine the style of your deck, choose the attachment options, as the deck can be adjoined to the wall with your foundation as a support, and may share a roof, or it can be detached, too. The last one is the easiest option for achieving a professional look because attached decks tend to look out of space if not done skillfully and correctly.

You must determine how tall you want your deck to be, as there may be some special requirements demanded by your state, for example, if you want your deck to be attached to a second story. Keep in mind that you may have to install railings of a particular style and height as well as special lock on doors if you have little children. Don’t forget to include proper support for a lower deck, which are usually much easier to build.

When it comes to designing a deck, it’s essential to check the terrain in order to determine if your house is on a slope or if your deck will be affected by it. Keep in mind that these features may change the footing that you need and lead to having to determine the height again. However, if the slope is very steep, it may be impossible or not safe enough to build a deck at all. It’s recommended to contact a local building inspector to determine whether or not you are able to safely build a deck on your property.

You should consider adding in multiple levels because one of the most popular trends these days is creating multi-level decks and ones with sitting spaces or sunken fit pits. Should you strive to enjoy these things, your deck will require more space and some additional planning.

It’s advisable to plan for sun exposure before you start doing any work. You must decide if you want your deck to be shady, have full sun expose or a bit of both. Consider the time of the day, when you spend more time outside and if you want to get sun or shade. Keep in mind to place any features strategically on your deck, especially objects creating shade. In order to check how the sun is changing the course over the day, put a pole in the middle of your deck area and use the shadows it casts to get an idea of where to place a roof. However, it’s recommended to hire a contractor for the proper planning, as designing a beautiful and safe deck require a lot of knowledge and experience.

Don’t forget to determine the access points, such as stairs, or will it need to meet up a window or door on the side of your house. Consider adding stairs leading out to the rest of your property, since you have to adjust your desired design for each access point you’re planning to incorporate, so you must plan these elements carefully.

One of the things you should decide is whether or not to include guard rails. You can choose a deck which is simply a platform with no rails along the sides, which allows you to move easily from your yard to your deck. However, to make your deck safer, especially if you have little children, you should incorporate guard rails, which are crucial in keeping your loved ones safe. Also, you should check if these are required by law in your state, depending on the height of your deck, too.

One of the most important things to consider is how you plan on using your deck. You should determine if you want to put a BBQ out on your deck, a hot tub or a mini kitchen. Also, incorporating lighting fixtures along the rail posts is a great idea. Keep in mind that whatever you choose, it’s essential to plan ahead on that, since you may need electrical, water or gas supply on your deck, which can turn out to be very expensive and may affect your plans. You must determine if these utilities should be run from your house or you should supply them from the street.

If you want to get some inspiration, looking at some magazines or blogs online will give you some ideas on how to design your space. Also, you can collect your favorite resolutions in an album or in a folder to discuss these with your contractor.

Consider the support

Deck with sitting area
Deck with sitting area

Start by checking with your local planning departments if they have any requirements or guidelines for how deck footings should be made. If you don’t know how to find or contact the planning department, you ought to call your local city hall for all the information. You must get a permit if you want to build a deck, so you should call this department, even if you don’t need any help planning the footing. You should learn about any utility lines you may hit while building your deck and digging the posts. Keep in mind that the post holes usually have to be placed below the frost line, and you should prepare the proper tools for the job. Also, you should check what the frost line is for your area.

Don’t forget to space the post, it may depend on the deck, but usually it is every 6 inches along the outside edges and roughly every 4 inches for the inside beams. Aldo, you must space the joists either every 16 or 12 inches. However, if you are using a very strong wood and building your deck not higher than 3 feet off the ground, you must use 24 inches spacing. It’s recommended to choose smaller joists if possible, because the smaller it is, the sturdier and less prone to bowing it will be. Keep in mind that standard joist sizes include 2×12, 2×10, and 2×8.

You should consider using thicker posts, as most popular options include 4x6s and 4x4s. However, the thicker the post, the more support you will get, so you ought to choose the thicker post for your deck.

If you are planning on adding an extra weight to your deck, you must reinforce the supporting areas with extra posts, trusses and more joists under the area your hot tub or another heavy item will be located. It will provide better support for the extra weight.

Use online planning tools

3d deck model
3d deck model

When designing your deck, take the courtesy of using planning tools, which may walk you through the process of choosing what style and size your space will be. Also, you will be able to calculate the spacing for joists and posts, create a basic building plan and calculate the costs of the investment. There are many tools available that offer many different and more biased options. You can also use a tool that allows you to figure out how much space your deck will need if you want to incorporate a certain furniture. You can set the dimensions of your area and fit your furnishing into it, arranging it the way you like. Plus, there are many browser extensions you can choose, as well as websites.

When it comes to designing a desk, keep in mind not to make it too small if you want to spend some quality time with your family in friends there while eating or relaxing. Also, you should use an exterior sealer to seal your deck, which will prevent cracking.

Now you know what you should consider before you start designing your deck, and you ought to find some inspiration to create a beautiful and welcoming space.

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