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 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.

Amazing Deck Designs

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Gather, Chat and Play

This deck is ideal for gathering with guests, as it has multiple areas for entertaining. Spaces for enjoying intimate conversation, dining and playing should be incorporated into every functional deck design. Photo courtesy of Trex

Decorative Design

This expansive deck includes decorative design elements. Create interest by using different tones and levels to section the space for multiple functions like seating, planting and grilling. Photo courtesy of Trex

Photo By: Photographer: Matthew Borkoski

Functional and Grand

A fire pit is one of the many focal points in this design. It's a great option for cool nights and marshmallow roasts. This deck creates a seamless extension of the home's living space. Photo courtesy of Trex

Photo By: Trex

A Relaxing Retreat

Designed by Wood Shop Company, this deck takes relaxation to the next level with exquisite craftsmanship. Since the deck is enclosed, the hot tub and city view can be enjoyed rain or shine.

Created for Lounging

This poolside retreat is the headquarters for lounging with family and friends. Privacy pairs perfectly with safety, as parents can keep a close watch on the kids in the pool without hovering. Photo courtesy of Trex

Spacious and Serene

Sometimes you need more space, and this deck incorporates ample seating along the edge without overcrowding the area. The curved design is an attractive, eye-catching feature that enhances the aesthetic. Photo courtesy of Timber Tech

Photo By: Al Lang

Ready for Viewing

Taking advantage of an outside view is one of the most important reasons for building a deck. Everything about this space capitalizes on nature's elements. Container plants and shrubs soften the design of this hardscape. Photo courtesy of Fiberon

An Evening Escape

This classic deck design pulls in the rustic color scheme from the adjacent woods. Railings, built-in planters and a discrete step define the outdoor space, making it feel like you're in a room. Photo courtesy of Timber Tech

Photo By: Bob Winner

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.

Decks With Views

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Unobstructed Views

Set above the tree line, this clear deck railing designed by Pureview Railings provides safety without being distracting. This standalone platform features plush seating and plenty of room to relax and enjoy the calming water elements.

A Mountain Vista

This wraparound deck captures mountain views from every angle. Add a grill station and some lounging chairs and you'll never want go inside. Photo courtesy of Fiberon

Lounging in Luxury

Here, the deck railing doubles as a seating option, which is ideal for entertaining. The rolling meadow is a serene focal point that can be viewed while standing or lounging on the ground, thanks the addition of a few oversize pillows. Photo courtesy Timber Tech

Lakeside Living

Set along the water's edge, this spacious deck is designed for gathering. An intimate nook provides a corner to sit quietly and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Photo courtesy of Timber Tech

Photo By: Bob Winner

Backyard Getaway

This immaculate cedar deck is an oasis with multiple levels dedicated to different vantage points of scenery. Photo courtesy of Cedar Deck

Sleek and Serene

The sleek, manicured look of wood planks coordinates with the clean aesthetic of the existing metal and glass railings. The deck design lends itself to ample room for lounging and waterside enjoyment.

Mountain Views

HGTV Dream Home 2012 includes a private hot tub, that's perfect for staying warm on chilly nights. The deck surround has ample seating and is a great spot to entertain guests and show off the unbelievable mountain views.

"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.

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