Space-Planning Tips for a Deck

Consider how you will use the space and arrange the deck layout to suit your lifestyle.


Photo courtesy of Timber Tech

Photo by: TimberTech


Photo courtesy of Timber Tech
By: Peter Walsh

To determine the size of your new deck, consider how you plan to use it. If you like to entertain, you'll need a large deck with lots of seating. If you plan to grill out on occasion and perhaps dine at a bistro-style table with two chairs, then a smaller deck will do.

A family of four that is comfortable dining around a 5-foot-long table will need twice that much space to push back chairs about three feet and safely walk around the table.

You should reserve some green space in your backyard to achieve the "communing with nature" feel a deck provides, and avoid adding a deck that is so large the maintenance becomes overwhelming.

To get a general idea in a physical sense, you can drag your patio furniture, grill and lounge chairs onto the lawn and position them as you would envision the arrangement on the deck. Map out the deck with string and stakes or use a garden hose to edge the perimeter of the proposed deck.

Measure the perimeter and then call a designer or contractor. By doing your homework first you'll be better equipped to discuss your needs and wants with a professional.

Zoning and Building Codes

Most reputable contractors, designers and builders know the local zoning and building codes in the areas where they work. If your deck stays within the house lines on the left or right side, you meet the building code restrictions. That means that the deck built on to the back of the house should not exceed the edge of the house.

Call your local town hall to find out the guidelines in your area. You may also need a survey of your property to determine exactly where your property lines are before you plan your deck.

Design a Deck for the View

Of course you want your new deck to take advantage of the beautiful scenery you have. Look out the window where the deck will be positioned. If it looks bucolic, then you should put the deck there. That's commonsense. But keep in mind that when you raise the deck, the view may be altered.

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"If you have a 6-foot fence surrounding your backyard for privacy, raising your deck up three feet will position you looking over the fence," explains Lou.

If you don't want to look into your neighbor's backyard, you should consider planting trees inside the fence line that will block the view and create privacy.

You can also position the deck boards to trick the eye. "People tend to look the way the decking is going," says Lou. So running the boards away from a bad view will train the eye to look in the pleasing direction. An experienced designer or deck builder can help you capture the best view from your deck.

Next Up

Accessing Your Deck

Stairs and doors are an integral part of the deck. Learn how to get the most out of your outdoor space with these tips.

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