Deck Design Fundamentals: Building Structures for Backyard Relaxation, Entertaining, and BBQ

Michelle Tether
Written by Michelle Tether

Making a nice deck using careful planning is straight forward and will also improve the value of your home, whilst allowing you to enjoy the benefits of a lovely area to enjoy with your family be it BBQ’s or relaxing.

Deck Design Fundamentals

It may be wintertime and a bit early to be rolling up shirtsleeves to start the New Year’s resolution of building that dream backyard deck. Don’t panic! The most important part of building a deck is the planning. This article will cover deck building fundamentals and future articles will go into depth with some fun ways to build and finish a deck. Before you install a deck, be sure you don’t want to geo-thermal heating such as hydronic radiant floors.

Decking making use of the garden corner space

Decking making use of the garden corner space by Rock my Style

Research Legal Deck Building Restrictions

There are number of things that affect deck building. Be informed. These restrictions might include…

Building Permits – Does the city require permits and inspections for a deck DIY project?

Neighbours – Make sure when you build your deck you won’t interfere with your neighbours, or worse they can interfere with you.

Handrails – In residential situations the handrail should be 900mm in height as a minimum

Balustrades – Should not have an opening of more than 100mm. This is almost certainly to ensure small children cannot fall between the gap.

Choosing a Great Deck Location

A good deck location will have a strong bearing on how much usable space you will get. Here are some considerations…

East, West, North, and South – The geographic zone the deck will be located in matters. This helps determine how the deck should be oriented. Maximise or minimise the sunlight?

The View – There are a few things that should be considered here. Which view is most attractive? How to best keep an eye on the kids playing in the yard or pool? If the deck incorporates a hot tub, what’s the best way to avoid the nosy neighbour when one of those midnight parties happen?
The shape -Deciding how to make best use of the garden shape you have and then implementing. Here’s a nice example of location used based on what garden space was available.

Decking with an interesting shape

Decking with an interesting shape – following the garden by Silva Decking

Deck Accessibility – Which door will be used to access the deck?

Make a Rough Sketch of the Deck

Now that a general concept of the orientation of the deck has been fleshed out, it’s time to sit down and make a to-scale sketch of the deck, house, and property lines. Play with different ideas about the size and shape of the deck. Make sure it works in the yard and then it’ll me time to mark out for your posts. Some things to consider…

Nice decking with steps

Nice decking with steps by

– Locate and sketch underground utilities, outdoor faucets, and gutter downspouts.
– Make note of the views and neighbours as identified earlier.
– Draw in existing trees and shrubbery. (Remove tree stumps?)
– Make note of ground level changes.

Experiment with Deck Design

Okay, the rough sketch has been done and best orientation of the dream deck has been identified (probably with compromises). Now it gets fun. One of the great things about backyard deck design is that there are so many customisations…

Basic Deck – This is simply square or rectangular, with or without handrails or stairs/steps.
Basic Deck with Corner Cutoffs – This is a more visually appealing version. The outer corners are cut off at a 45 degree angle with steps to the yard.
Multi-Level Deck – Why settle for one level when more is better? Imagine, the ground level deck comes off the home at door level and a secondary deck ties into it and steps up 6 inches or so.
Wraparound Deck – This type of deck wraps around the outside corner of the garden. This is a good choice when dealing with a fierce sunlight

Decking design free style

Decking design free style by Ofdesign

Freestanding Deck – This deck isn’t connected to the house at all. It works well in a garden or backyard pond setting.
Hot Tub Deck – The hot tub is elevated level from the basic deck with a skirt to cover the hot tub’s base.

All of these designs can be mixed and matched and why not look at what other garden accessories you can use to enhance your deck design. If you don’t fancy doing this yourself, why not take a look at my great tips on how to select a contractor.

About the author

Michelle Tether

Michelle Tether

I love everything home. I write as a passion for non profit about the things I love.