After much consideration, you've chosen a deck over a patio. Now what? It's time to figure out the important details that will push your project beyond a sketch on a napkin to become an actual outdoor living space.
Decks can be connected to a house or detached. Decking materials include softwoods, tropical hardwoods, synthetic woods and pressure-treated lumber. Then there's the type of deck you desire (like wraparound, pool deck, etc), along with shape, size and even the placement pattern of the wood.
Unlike a patio, there can be more involved in deck planning. Since decks are raised, they may require a blueprint and engineering. A permit may need to be submitted to and approved by your local planning department. If this is going to be a do-it-yourself project, you will need a design or plan, along with special tools and equipment (i.e. circular saw, jig saw). If you aren't up for the task, you will need to find a contractor or subcontractor to do the job. And, of course, there's the budget, which often dictates just about everything.
Deck Ideas to Launch Your Project
A picture can spark a great idea, and helps immensely when you aren't quite sure how to get started. Perhaps these deck designs will spark the inspiration for your dream deck project.
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Deck With a View
One of the most important considerations when planning a deck is placing the deck in a location that offers a great view. Emphasis is on "great" since your deck can have a view, but it might be of your neighbor's trash-filled, overgrown or neglected backyard.
That's not the case with this house, which is perched on a hill overlooking a river. The narrow balcony-style deck is relaxed, comfortable, and all about that breathtaking view.
A deck positioned so high needs to have protective railings, which, in this case, is a glass partition that doesn't obstruct the view.Continue to 2 of 17 below.
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Pool and Hot Tub Deck
What makes this deck a true extension of the house?
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- The deck and house floors are level and appear to be seamless.
- Patio doors—in this case, sliding doors—open up to the deck and be left open in warm weather.
- The hot tub and pool are accessible from several rooms of the house. In other words, it's a quick hop in and out of the spa and back into the house.
- The hot tub is sunken into the deck for a clean and uncluttered look.
- The deck's shape and steps conform to the shape and architecture of the house.
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Best of Both Worlds: Combining a Deck and a Patio
On the fence about whether to install a patio or build a deck? Sometimes you can do both, and quite effectively. This is a relatively small outdoor space that has been well planned to incorporate a wooden deck area for dining and relaxing. At the same time, the raised patio is surrounded by tightly planted containers of various plants like small trees, vines, and shrubs.
The reverse could also work, with the lower level as a patio/gardening area and a raised deck for sunning and dining.Continue to 4 of 17 below.
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Hardwood Rooftop Deck
Hardwoods like teak and iroko (pictured) are beautiful as decking surfaces. Most are insect- and weather-resistant, sturdy, and can last for decades. Iroko trees can be grow on the west coast of tropical Africa and survives for centuries—an ideal substance for a rooftop gathering space. Rather than keeping the deck on the ground, you can make use of the space on top of your home if it is an available option. This idea is unusual to some, but it can give added privacy if you live in the city and won't take up yard space if you have surrounding property.Continue to 5 of 17 below.
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Ipe Deck Steps
Rather than sticking to one flat surface, creating a deck with wide, large steps can have some advantages. These three wide steps also serve as outdoor seating, made comfier with with thick square pillows. This deck is made of ipe wood, which is a hardwood that is much like teak, that resistant to rot and termites—a great choice to ensure what you've built is long-lasting.Continue to 6 of 17 below.
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In regions that experience frequent rain or are prone to mosquitos and other insects during the warmer months, an enclosed deck satisfies the desire for an outdoor room without forcing you to suffer the elements or local critters. Fiberglass is the most popular and inexpensive type of screen material for porches and outdoor spaces. Other choices include aluminum, stainless steel, copper, bronze, and sun-blocking screens.
For additional comfort in hot regions, add an indoor/outdoor ceiling fan.Continue to 7 of 17 below.
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Dining on the Deck
This deck has an excellent view, which includes the yard below it and surrounding landscaping. The property is built in the foothills, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles. Because the house sits above the yard, the homeowners needed to have a durable wood deck with to-the-code handrails. This deck and drought-tolerant garden were featured on an annual tour offered by the Theodore Payne Foundation.Continue to 8 of 17 below.
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Side yards are often used as pass-through areas to walk from the frontyard to the backyard, or vice versa. With wood decking added, a side yard becomes a destination. Here, with the addition of bamboo growing as a privacy screen, the deck leads to a small garden and seating area, which serves a secluded place to read, eat, or grab some sun.Continue to 9 of 17 below.
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Deck with a Firepit
Your deck experience shouldn't be limited to the summer months. Investing in a fire pit (or better yet, building one into it) is a great way to extend your deck's use, even when temperatures start to drop at night. It can also add some coziness and create a relaxing atmosphere whether you're with guests or enjoying some time alone.Continue to 10 of 17 below.
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While it's more common for decks to connect to the house, that doesn't mean it has to. Detached decks can form a focal point in your yard and give plenty of flexibility in where they are placed and how they are used. The deck pictured above surrounds a lush garden pond, providing a stunning aesthetic and a slightly unconventional outdoor experience. A detached option can also be ideal if your home is made out of unsuitable material or doesn't have the proper structure to attach a standard deck.Continue to 11 of 17 below.
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This swimming pool becomes a warm, inviting outdoor space with a rich wood deck surround. Boulders—either real or faux—give the pool area a rustic, naturalistic look, along with providing walls for privacy. Poolside decking is also a smart choice due to its non-slippery surface.Continue to 12 of 17 below.
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Instead of sticking to a deck that is only on one side of your house, why not extend it all the way around? Wraparound decks provide uninhibited views of your property, making it a great choice if your home is surrounded by nature or other must-see sights. They also offer plenty of space for different activities, so there's no fear of overcrowding. Regardless of what your plans are, you'll have room to make it happen.Continue to 13 of 17 below.
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Deck Built Around a Tree
When deciding to add an extension onto your house, there may be obstacles to work around such as trees and other shrubberies. Rather than chopping down what's already growing, incorporate it into your deck design. This deck ensured there was a small opening to allow the tree to continue growing and created a small table for guests to sit and enjoy. It can take some planning, but it's worth the extra effort.Continue to 14 of 17 below.
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For an extra level of comfort and aesthetic, built-in seating is a great way to elevate your deck. Whether it's individual chairs or a more extended bench like the one featured above, built-in-furniture can help structure the layout and can allow creativity on the type of seating options.Continue to 15 of 17 below.
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Above-ground pools like this one have all the amenities of an in-ground pool, plus a spa and two private deck or patio areas. Wood decking connects the house to the separate decks, hot tub, and pool. Of course, this type of above-ground pool takes some planning, but the final result is a well-designed backyard.Continue to 16 of 17 below.
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Planter Perimeters and Gardens
Adding large planters to the perimeters of the deck can create structure and potential privacy, depending on what you plant in them. You can even use them to make a unique addition: a small garden in the middle of the deck. Rather than dispersing plants all across the space, a garden plot like this can add some flair and natural decor.Continue to 17 of 17 below.
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Not all deck selection needs to be made of wood; there are other options. Composite decks are a great choice for those who want something a little less expensive and more low maintenance, particularly compared to its wooden counterpart. They are also weather and stain-resistant, which can be a bonus felt over time. If you are not entirely set on a wooden deck, a composite choice certainly isn't a bad way to go.