How to design a deck

Adding a deck to your back garden is a great investment for various reasons. For one thing, a deck can increase the value of your property, but it will also give you a wonderful new outdoor living space that can be used for dining, entertaining, sunbathing, and generally relaxing and making the very most of your precious leisure time.

Installing a deck also gives you the opportunity to get creative. Garden decks come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, and whether you’re planning to build a sprawling multi-level deck or just a small outdoor seating area, there are many ways to express your originality and make your deck unique.

Here are a few things to think about when you’re designing your dream deck:

Board Patterns

How to design a deck

Consider how you will lay your decking boards. It needn’t be a binary choice between vertical and horizontal—you could arrange the boards diagonally, or in a herringbone pattern. Some people create a kind of patchwork effect by alternating between vertical and horizontal layouts.

You could even purchase two different decking colours and use one to contrast the other. For example, darker decking boards make a great border for an otherwise light-coloured deck.

Handrails and Balustrades

Adding a rail to your deck makes for a fantastic finishing touch, plus it reduces your risk of falling off the edge of the deck and injuring yourself. Combine safety and style with a sleek metal handrail, or go traditional with a timber rail that matches your deck boards.

Alternatively, glass balustrades can be used to give your deck a very modern look—and they won’t obscure your view of the garden beyond!

Material Options

Whether you’re building a brand new deck or updating an existing one, there are many considerations to make. Deck construction techniques have advanced quite a bit in the past few decades, and while this means higher material costs and labor expenses, it also means better options for every owner, including decking builders. You can find trustworthy and professional builders like Decking Central Coast who offer a variety of materials to suit your location, purpose, and budget.

Decking is typically made out of wood, but there are also composite decking products that may look just as nice and perform just as well. Composite decking is usually made out of recycled materials such as fiberglass, aluminum, or pressure-treated lumber (or cedar). The reason that these decking products don’t have to be “green” is that they contain a combination of recycled materials that have been specially treated to resist the effects of a harsh climate.

Deck Lighting

Lights, like handrails, are both practical and attractive. Adding lights to your garden deck will improve the overall ambience while also making it easier to see after dark.

Many decking suppliers offer deck lights that are built into the boards themselves, but if that’s not your style, you’ll find countless contemporary outdoor lighting products online.

Steps, Benches and Planters

How to design a deck

Your deck can incorporate all kinds of different features. If the deck spreads across multiple levels, its design will need to incorporate steps; you can also add a built-in plant box or banquette seat. The sky’s the limit, and because these items can be constructed using the same boards as the deck itself, the whole space will look wonderfully seamless.

Furnishing Your Deck

Once your new deck is complete, you can have even more fun by accessorising it with some stylish pieces of outdoor furniture. Don’t think for a second that you’re limited to crummy plastic patio chairs—you can get all sorts of high-quality items these days, from comfortable weatherproof sofas to hanging egg chairs, dining sets, swing seats and more.

While you’re searching for furniture to suit your stunning deck design, it’s likely that you’ll also come across a plethora of sculptures, water features and other products that can be used to add an extra bit of aesthetic value to your outdoor living space.

extra bit of aesthetic value to your outdoor living space.

There are many different reasons why people choose to add a deck to their home. It functions as an extension where you can spend time alone, or together with friends and family. With a deck constructed, you can enjoy the comfort of being outside all year round. There are many options to achieve the deck design that you have in mind. By keeping the abovementioned considerations in mind, you’ll have a deck design that you’re truly proud to show off!

Bring your deck vision to life with our easy-to-use deck design tool.

How to design a deck

  • Experiment with different square footage
  • Try out unique features like octagons or multilevels
  • Save or download your designs for easy sharing
  • View your design in 3D or multiple 2D views
  • Download permit plans and build specs
  • Get a breakdown list for all suggested materials

How to design a deckHow to design a deck

  • Save your deck designs for later
  • Download permit plans and material lists
  • Get instant and exclusive access to all that has to offer, including free downloadable deck plans and hundreds of decking building resources
  • Have full access to the deck designer to create your dream deck
  • Check out the help videos if you need more guidance
  • Share your designs with family member or contractors to help get your project started
  • View material breakdowns
  • Download plans to submit for permits

How to design a deck

Designing and building a deck can be a fun and rewarding experience. But with any home improvement project it is important to always consider safety first. Please carefully read and accept the terms of use before we get started.

The Deck Designer and related plans are to be used as an educational guide and not to be considered a finalized deck building plan. It is your responsibility to verify the accuracy and compliance with your local building codes and site conditions.

How to design a deck

Decks are a great outdoor addition that adds extra space, value and boost overall lifestyle quality. Most decks focus on a larger and more spacious design, but not all yards are so accommodating. If you have a small yard, designing a small deck with the right features can optimize and improve your space for outdoor living.

Shipley Construction in Edmonton is a professional general contractor that offers interior and exterior renovations. They share some design tips for building a small deck with big value:

Start with your needs

Like any deck design, start by thinking of what goals you have for your new deck. For example, is it a space to soak up some sun, entertain friends, or just eat outdoors now and again? If you like to entertain, you’ll want to plan a nook for that BBQ or grill without cramping any seating. Or focus on a layout that maximizes a cozy, intimate space for relaxation and comfort for a quiet reading spot. By starting with your wants and goals, you’ll be able to work with your contractor to create a design plan that meets them.

Make the design in sync

An essential part of good deck design is ensuring that the house, deck, and yard all look in sync. The best way to ensure that is by using similar materials or layouts when designing the addition. Focus on complementary paint colours or use the same dark work as your home to build the deck. That way, the two spaces will feel connected, have good flow, and not like two disjointed areas. Another tip is to build the deck where an opening is already available, like a back door or connection from the kitchen. Not only does it save extra construction costs, but you benefit from that sense of flow from the interior to the exterior living spaces.

Reduce visual clutter

Larger decks have more room for extra additions like privacy screens with plants, a set seating area, a snazzy grill and so on. With a small deck, you don’t have much room for such visual freedom. Too many additions and features will make the space feel cramped and cluttered. Instead, focus on what additions make the most sense or will have the most use. Add an arbour, for example, if you want a cozy setting, liven up your deck or incorporate some greenery. Or, you could create bar-like seating with a narrow table running along with one of the railings. Only add as much furniture as you will actually use or need for your family’s size.

General Contractors in Edmonton

Shipley Construction provides high-quality and stunning transformative renovations for both interior and exterior projects. Their team is fully trained, insured, and experienced in handling any project, big or small. Whether you’re upgrading the kitchen or putting in a new deck, you can trust the quality work and service provided by their skilled team.


Trex makes it simple to design a deck you’ll love. We’ve taken care of everything, from selecting your shape, to creating your shopping list—the Trex Deck Design program allows you to handpick every element of your new deck. Compare materials, explore colors, see which furniture or accessories you may want to include with our 3D software. When you’re finished, you can download a shopping list of your materials, or share a blueprint with your friends, contractor, or local planning office to obtain a permit.

The Trex Deck Designer also gives you the full experience—use it outside to better envision your deck, take it with you to the store to purchase materials, and plan your deck whenever and wherever you have the time. Our free deck design tool helps you build a beautiful outdoor living space that’s uniquely yours.

How to design a deck

How to design a deck


Trex Does Right By Homeowners

“I think that it’s actually a lot better of an experience as a user, it’s not too cluttered.”

“I like it, I feel like it’s pretty simple and to the point.”

“I like the degree of control it gives you, the idea that you get to see it and get a feel for it.”


A gorgeous deck starts with a great plan. The Trex design tool can help you during the planning stages, too. Here are a few things to consider while you plan your dream deck:

Size & use: How do you want to use your deck? Do you plan to do a lot of grilling and entertaining? Or do you just want a small, backyard sanctuary to soak up some sun? How you plan to use your deck will play a role in determining its size and scale.

Budget: Do you have a set budget in mind? This may play a role in the size and scope of your deck, or extra features you want to incorporate. When planning your deck, consider not only the cost of materials, but the cost of labor.If you plan to go the DIY route, you may have some extra wiggle room in your budget, but it may take longer to build than if you’d hired a professional. Use the app to compare pricing on different components and view estimated costs for your deck—both with and without labor factored in.

Maintenance & materials: How much time do you want to spend maintaining your deck—and how often? Composite decking gives you the look of natural wood without the drawbacks. Fade-resistant, rot-resistant, and termite-proof, composite decking requires comparatively less maintenance than wood decking. Once you know what materials you plan to use, the Trex Deck Designer can help you create a shopping list for your project. Learn more about Trex vs. wood.

Obtaining proper permits: In most cases, yes, you will need a permit to build a deck. While adding a deck to a home can increase the value—and enjoyment—of your home, if you haven’t obtained the proper permits, it can be a problem if you ever choose to sell. Once you’re done designing your deck in the app, you can use the Trex Deck Designer to generate a blueprint to take to your local building office to be sure it meets safety codes and to apply for the proper permits. Learn more about the legal requirements for building a deck.

How to design a deck

Decks of any height can be incredibly fun to design. You get to summon your inner architect and — as professional carpenter Scott Schuttner notes in “Building a Deck,” no one knows better than you do what you really want. The end result can give you neighborhood bragging rights — “I designed this!” — as you enjoy coffee in the morning or barbeque on holidays on a safe, solid deck with your own personal flourishes.

Getting Started

Before you put pencil to paper — or mouse to software program — to create your design plans, make the preliminary decisions that are crucial to the direction of the deck scheme. You may want a small, low-level deck to quietly enjoy birdsong, or a larger space for entertaining if you have a sufficient flat area. By definition, a low-level deck is a single level, rises no more than 30 inches, and does not have balusters and railings. It does need a step or two leading to the rest of your green space.

Making a Site Map

Evaluate your site in terms of sunlight, shade and slope. Create a topography and features sketch of your yard showing trees and the range of their shadows; the door that will lead to the deck; prevailing winds; compass points and rough contour lines; along with downspouts, air-conditioning units, fences and other fixtures. Consider current traffic patterns exiting the house and around the yard. Take photos of the area as well, Schuttner advises.

The Simplicity of Low Levels

You can begin to sketch overhead and side views of your deck, to guide your builders’ work or your own if you are experienced. First, though, make a quick call to your jurisdiction’s building permits office. Typically, low-level decks don’t require permits, but they may require neighbor notification and determination of easements that limit your ability to approach your boundaries. A low-profile deck should be a breeze to sketch, in terms of its components. While you need to indicate the placement of footings, low-level decks often don’t require posts, but you may need them to accommodate sloping ground. The joists hang on the faces of the beams, rather than resting on top. Black and Decker’s “The Complete Guide to Decks” notes that, given the low rise of this project, the ledger board may need to be anchored to your house’s foundation wall rather than the rim joist.

Practical Matters and Aesthetics

For the easiest construction, create a square, rectangle or octagon involving 90- or 45-degree angles for your edges. Place circles to indicate approximate footings locations — or your software may pop these in. Draw in the beams — built-up board assemblies or heavy timbers running the long way for this project — and joists, which run between the beams, about 16 inches apart. Indicate beams and joists with narrow parallel lines that resemble dimensional lumber. An architect or engineer should review your work to recommend the best footing spacing and dimensional lumber sizes, as well as determine if your deck size is large enough to dictate a middle beam between your outer beam and the ledger. Try to keep your overall deck width and length in even 2-foot increments to avoid wasting dimensional lumber and deck boards. And have fun adding planters, hidden low-voltage lighting, a pergola, tree wells and other such features to fully customize your space.

How to design a deck

Sketch details to help you plan and problem-solve your deck plans before you build.

How to design a deck

With my site plan and photographs in hand, I begin putting my ideas down on paper by establishing the areas will best meet the requirements of the wish list. Solutions to simple wants are usually obvious, but often a deck will be serving more than a single need. If I don’t have a preconceived idea for the overall project, I like to first design a solution to each individual requirement on my list. After I’ve produced an array of small designs, I attempt to integrate them into a whole.

For example, I’ll sketch an ideal eating area—which may include table, food prep counter, storage, and grill—then separately sketch a perfect hot tub deck with privacy screen, sitting bench, and changing booth. Next I might draw small sketches for a planter garden or a reading/meditation area. I then arrange all of these drawings in a logical pattern and tape them together, trying to problem-solve as I go along. For instance, the eating area might be best located near a door to the kitchen so that food doesn’t have to be carried a long way. On the other hand, the hot tub would probably work best in a more obscure corner, especially if privacy is an issue. If you’ve sketched a play area for kids, you might want to situate it under a kitchen window from which a parent can keep a watchful eye on activities.

How to design a deck

As your deck begins to take shape, you need to find a creative way of linking the separate areas together. Start thinking about level changes, broad stairways, connecting walkways. Give close scrutiny to size requirements. Benches, trellises, railings, and other features combine form and functionality, while specific finishing details—a classic or contemporary balustrade, for example—help ensure the deck’s style matches your home.

At this stage of the process, I like to let my wish-list considerations take precedence over cost and structural details. I’ve yet to see a design that couldn’t be built, but in the real world, cost is usually a consideration, so now’s the time to go back and modify some great—if impractical—ideas to bring them in line with the budget. One problem most novices encounter is that the difficult-to-build design elements, such as curves, are not always readily apparent. If you’re doing your own construction work, this can be a mixed blessing, for you may enthusiastically tackle something out of inexperience that a contractor would know will be difficult (and therefore costly) to build.

While compromises can be frustrating, it’s important to bring into focus exactly what isn’t working about a particular design. Sometimes this means setting the whole process aside for a while until clearer heads and calmer emotions can prevail. Often, it’s just a single, knotty problem that makes the entire design seem faulty. If you can recognize this and focus on solving that one problem, it may clear up the misconception that the whole design is defective and help you see that your design is a good one. A good design usually seems obvious, while a bad design keeps nagging at you to fix it. This process should be fun, rather than tedious or stressful, so allow yourself plenty of time. I often spend weeks on a deck design as my clients assimilate the latest alteration and respond with new suggestions.

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How to design a deck

A well-designed deck includes built-ins and features that are added for practical purposes along with architectural elements that enhance the design and materials of the structure. The better the design, the less noticeable it is. Face the truth: it gets hot, and as gorgeously appointed as your fine hardwood deck might be, if you don’t provide shade, everybody will run for cover. A pergola or overhead structure will prolong your enjoyment and use of the deck, all while adding an attractive design element.

Assess what already exists: a deck's railings, posts, and overhead structure should echo a home's similar architectural elements in front or other parts of the property. A well-designed cover complements your home's style and the exterior materials used, especially any wood used elsewhere. Among types and styles of overhead structures to consider:

  • Arbor: Smaller than a pergola or gazebo, an arbor includes 2 to 4 posts with a simple slatted roof that is open. Vines can grow over an arbor or a lattice can be placed on top for more of an enclosed effect.
  • Pergola: This type of overhead can be identified by having four or more posts or columns. It supports a roof that is traditionally flat, with beams left alone in one direction or topped with cross beams or slats. The pergola’s roof can be left open, covered with outdoor fabric, or support fast-growing vines.
  • Attached overhead: This can be built at the same time as the deck or added to an existing deck. It attaches to a back wall of your house and has a roof supported by sturdy posts at the edge of the deck.
  • Gazebo: More room-like than a pergola, a gazebo can be rectangular, hexagonal, or whatever shape you desire. Gazebos have posts and are more enclosed than other garden structures.
  • Roof extension: Sometimes this has already been done, other times it’s a solution when another type of overhead structure will interrupt the flow and lines of your home’s roof. Work with an architect or other building professional for this type of project; it’s definitely not a DIY endeavor.

Consult your planning commission before starting a project of this scope; you will likely need to pull permits and follow local codes.

For inspiration and ideas, enjoy this diverse, international selection of covered decks.

Modern Deck

A Washington D.C. home has a modernist sensibility focused on the privacy of the rear yard: from the front, you’d never guess how open and modern it is in the back. It’s a covered deck that’s an extension of the interior and reflects the proportions of the primary bedroom as it looks across a grassy “courtyard.” Designed by Kube Architecture, the deck is built with ipe wood and pressure-treated framing. Small, in-ground deck lights were purchased on Amazon for subtle illumination.

About This Term: Primary Bedroom

Many real estate associations, including the National Association of Home Builders, have classified the term “Master Bedroom” as discriminatory. “Primary Bedroom” is the name now widely used among the real estate community and better reflects the purpose of the room.

Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge to make The Spruce a site where all feel welcome.

How to design a deck

If you’re in the business of startup and entrepreneurship, you will need to pitch your idea at some point in your journey. A pitch deck comes into play when presenting your idea to venture capitalists or angel investors. Engaging pitch deck examples can help you get the funding that you need for your startup. We collected examples and templates and came up with a guide on how to create them.

Table of Contents

First, Pitch Your Idea to Yourself.

Before you pitch your idea, pitch it to yourself first. Write out the investor pitch deck that you would want to see if you were reading it. Doing this will outline what information needs to be included for your pitch deck to be effective. It is also a great way of figuring out how much funding is needed for your startup and any potential roadblocks that may hinder growth.

Explain what your company does and why it matters.

Your pitch deck design should explain how your startup works, who uses it, and why they use it. Your pitch deck should also contain a plan for the future. If you have a detailed plan to get from where you are now to achieving success, that’s even better! A pitch deck can help you get new customers or establish partnerships with bigger companies. Whatever your pitch deck, make sure that it’s well-thought-out.

Create a Pitch Deck Template

How to design a deck

A pitch deck template will help you easily create a great pitch deck presentation using a pitch deck maker. Venngage allows users to make easy infographics and charts for free. It has an infographic maker of its own without all the hassle of learning Photoshop or Illustrator. You can also import PNG and JPEG files to work with.

The Best Pitch Decks are Clear, Concise, and Easy to Understand

A pitch deck should be an elevator pitch, which means that it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes of their time. You can get them interested in your startup by showing how you are different from the competition or, even better, showing your business model results. This will make prospective investors see why they should invest in your company through numbers, not just words.

Use pitch deck examples

How to design a deck

Using pitch deck examples is also a great resource for first-time pitch deck creators because they have condensed many things into one presentation. You will be able to see an effective pitch deck format that works best for entrepreneurs just like you!

Pitch Deck Tips and Tricks

How to design a deck

Here are the pitch deck tips and mistakes to avoid:

  • Practice your pitch deck before pitching it. You will make a better first impression if you’ve already heard yourself say those words.
  • Tell them about your company’s plans, not its past plans.
  • Think of a pitch deck as a piece of content made for investors . It’s actually a guideline on what kind of information needs to be included. It should answer any questions they may have on how you’re going to succeed at your startup journey. For example, an online marketing platform might include sections on how targeted traffic will bring in leads or why their product has excellent customer service.
  • Use graphs and charts over text.
  • Don’t pitch your company as a project that you’re doing on the side. A pitch deck is meant to show how your company will affect the market and why it’s worth investing in.
  • Keep it simple, but not too simple.
  • Be honest about any issues your startup may face, but don’t dwell on them. Investors want to know what problems come with having their money invested in you so they can solve those problems together.

And Don’t Forget to Practice Your Pitch!

Finally, practice your pitch a few times a day. You never know who you might run into that can help fund your company or expand it. Make sure that you are confident when presenting your pitch deck and have all the information easy to access in case they ask questions. Then get pitching.

To create an effective pitch deck, write out exactly what you would say if someone were reading it instead of just bullet points of key information. Create a pitch deck template using Venngage’s infographic maker so that you easily create infographics without learning how to use Photoshop or Illustrator. And most importantly, practice pitching before actually having to pitch! Your pitch should only take 2 minutes max.