How to Design a Wood Deck

Written by linda donahue
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How to Design a Wood Deck
Wood decks make for nice places to entertain outside. (wood texture image by Daniel Gillies from

Designing a wood deck is a simple matter of taking into account the space you have to work with along with your plans for the deck's use. Once you've sketched up your design, you can either build the deck yourself (if you have building experience) or you can hire a contractor to turn your vision into a reality. Although decks can be in a variety of geometric shapes, a simple rectangular deck is easiest to build. Also consider whether you want a covered or uncovered deck when planning your design.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Determine the height of your deck. Wooden decks are typically raised so they are flush with your back door. Because the deck will be raised, consider whether you want a gap under the deck to show or whether you'll cover this with boards, like having a baseboard around the bottom of the deck. Alternatively, if your deck is raised enough, you may instead want steps along one or all sides.

  2. 2

    Choose a basic shape for your deck. Typically, decks are rectangular, however, you can have a more unusual shape depending on your yard. An L-shaped deck might work, especially if there is a water feature or hot tub for the deck to go around. As an aesthetic consideration, consider a deck in which the corners of the rectangle are cut off, creating angled sides along the front.

  3. 3

    Decide how you will orient the floor boards on your deck. The simplest directions are to have the boards either running parallel to the side of the house or perpendicular to the house. A more labour intensive layout, but one that is more aesthetic, is to have the boards laying along a diagonal to the house.

  4. 4

    Consider railings. Your deck can be completely open, without railings or you might have railings surround, or partially surround, your deck. With railings, you can add corner counters for drinks. Railings also provide places for people to perch, and they provide places to set up planter boxes or set out potted plants.

  5. 5

    Consider making your deck a covered deck. Take your climate into account. Decide if having a cover would make the deck more usable for more of the year. Decide what type of covering would be appropriate. A deck covering can attach to the roof and have matching roofing on top. A deck cover can be flat or peaked. If using a cover, you can add ceiling fans and overhead lighting fixtures to the deck.

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