Tips for designing your deck

Phantom Screens / August 4, 2016

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The right deck can transform your yard and the way you use it. Outdoor living spaces finished with a deck make the outdoors comfortably accessible. So if you’re thinking of building or remodeling your deck, you may want to consider a few things.

Your goals

How do you see your deck being used? It may be the place you do all your grilling or it could be an outdoor lounge. How private do you want your deck to be? Once you have in mind what you most want to use a deck for, choosing design elements will be much easier.


As you go into the design process, remember to check on what restrictions are imposed by homeowner association covenants, if any. Look into local zoning regulations in your area and be sure you have a building permit if you need one. Budget and space is always a consideration as well.


Once you have an image in your head of what you want your deck to look like, begin researching ways to accomplish it. Find out which materials work best in the climate you live in. Pine, cedar, redwood, mahogany and ipe are popular woods to use in deck construction. Western red cedar holds up well in various weather situations, but splinters easily. Redwood grays over time and can turn black if exposed to moisture for extended periods of time. If you live in a moist climate and you don’t want your deck blackening, this may not be the wood for you. Redwood will last longer with a good sealer. Ipe has long been seen as the prime wood for decks. It resists rot and bugs and is incredibly difficult to burn. However, this wood is from the rainforest, making its use controversial. Just be sure to look for ipe that is certified ethically harvested.
The material you end up choosing should complement existing elements in your home.


Your deck design should feel natural in the space where it exists. Adding flower beds or gardens brings harmony to your yard. Decks with a low elevation look especially nice with a shrub perimeter. Trees provide great natural shade. If you have a large tree in your yard already, strategically plan how to build your deck to include it in your design. You can use plants to blur where the deck stops and the yard starts, creating a seamless transition.
Adding a water element near your deck could also help the area seem natural and serene. It also camouflages sounds you may not like. A fountain’s gurgles could cover up the sound of the highway or other traffic noises. You can easily place water features in out-of-the-way corner spaces.


Decks with multiple levels are dramatic and create smaller spaces. The top level may be covered and more of a reading spot. A lower level could house an outdoor dining set. You don’t have to have a large yard to add multiple levels if you keep them short.

Secret garden deck

If your goal in building a deck is to have a secluded haven in your home, consider tucking it away. A small deck amongst a garden in the far corner of your yard has great potential for privacy and peace. Flowering vines hanging over a pergola compartment off the space. Plant taller grass around the perimeter of your deck. A rock path leading away from your retreat adds some romance to the mood.