How to design a deck for a sliding patio door

Written by judi light hopson
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How to design a deck for a sliding patio door
A deck is a great place to relax or read. (deck image by Albert Lozano from

A deck outside a sliding door is a good place to relax, cook outdoors or hold family gatherings. A deck made of wood is most often a better choice than a concrete patio, since wood doesn't retain the heat of the sun the way concrete does. A well-designed deck can include benches, tables and storage built into the floor area or along the side railing.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Home exterior design books
  • Sketch pad and pencil
  • Exact measurements for deck
  • List of activities desired for deck
  • Special features or storage needed
  • Samples of wood
  • Samples of stain

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  1. 1

    Read landscaping and home design books with photos of decks or deck plans. Figure out which style of deck would fit well with the architecture of your home or building. Choose clean lines that do not draw attention to the deck itself. Create a design that blends with your architecture versus standing out. Design a deck that looks as if it's always been in place versus added on later.

  2. 2

    Use a sketch pad to draw the sliding door area of your home from several angles. Measure the actual space you will allow for the deck using a measuring tape or yardstick. Allow room in the yard area to manoeuvre around the deck. Design the deck to be built a couple of feet off the ground, so you can clean the deck with a water hose and allow for drainage. Avoid building the deck just a few inches from the ground, if possible, since leaves and debris can build up under the deck.

  3. 3

    Decide activities you desire for the deck area. Allow room for grilling, sitting, reading or placing outdoor furniture with an umbrella. Envision how you want traffic flow to move from the sliding door to steps leading off the deck. Design the deck to be even with the sliding door threshold or a few inches below it.

  4. 4

    Design the deck to be built of salt-treated lumber boards 2 by 6-inches. Make notes about storage you would like on the deck. Build or buy benches with lids serving as seats that can hold plastic toys or sports equipment, for example. Construct benches and storage from the deck material or exterior-grade plywood stained to match the deck. Design a wall unit that can hold grilling equipment or media equipment brought outside when you entertain.

  5. 5

    Review samples of wood and samples of wood staining products. Use the colour of stain that will look best with the exterior of your home. Purchase lumber in oak, cedar or any salt-treated wood recommended for your locale by home improvement stores. Buy upscale materials, since a deck should add market value to your home.

Tips and warnings

  • Look at other decks in your neighbourhood, if possible. Ask friends and neighbours what they would do differently if they constructed a new deck. For example, ask if they would use a different type of wood or staining product.
  • Use high-quality hinges on a deck gate to prevent sagging over time. Attach all components using stainless steel nails and screws to prevent rust marks.
  • Always secure an umbrella, table or furniture to the deck or add weight to hold them down. You don't want the items to fall into the sliding glass door during a windstorm or get blown off the property.
  • If you attach a deck to a second-story area, always follow local building codes for bolting the deck to house framing. A deck can easily fall if you use only nails and screws without sufficient foundational support from the ground level. Plenty of decks have toppled from second or third floors of apartment buildings due to not being properly secured by bolts and hardware designated by building codes.

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