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Deck Design

A deck design is the first step in adding beautiful and functional outdoor space to your home. Whether it is part of a complete landscape plan, home remodel, or new building project, the right deck design will add value and years of enjoyment to a home.

Do These Things Before You Get Started

Before you start planning your deck project, get some basic information.

  • Permit Requirements. In many jurisdictions, you'll need a permit from the city, county, or other agency. There may also be building code requirements for footings, railing height, setbacks, materials, etc. There may also be permit fees and it's possible your addition will increase your property tax assessment.
  • Homeowners' Association Rules. If your home is governed by a homeowners' association, you need to make sure your deck design meets its requirements. This may also require a review of your plans before you can begin construction.
  • Check Before You Dig. Make sure you contact your local utility providers before you design foundations and footings or anything else—including trees—that will require you to dig. In North America, you can do this via the www.digsafely.com hotline at 888-258-0808. Most municipalities also have a 'call before you dig' service. In U.S. cities, dial 811 or visit www.call811.com. They will visit the property and paint lines showing the locations of buried cables and conduit.

Deck Design Basics

  • Determine your budget. This may not be the most fun part of the deck design process, but it's important to set a limit and stick to it. You can then scale your deck plan within your budget.
  • Make a list of the features you want. If you haven't done so already, you may want to peruse some deck plans and ideas. You can go online, or visit local contractors or building supply stores for ideas. Some of these might include:
    • Outdoor fireplace or firepit
    • Hot tub or spa
    • Integrated seating
    • Built-in cooking center
    • Wind screens
    • Covers or roofs
    • Outdoor heaters/misters
    • Electrical systems for lighting, music, or entertainment centers
    • Planters
  • Determine the Size of the Deck. Scale your deck project appropriately to your house and property, while making sure that it is large enough to accommodate your needs.
  • Don't Forget Weather Factors. Most people use their decks in the late afternoon and evening. If your deck faces west, you may want to consider alternatives for screening the afternoon sun. If you live in a very rainy or sunny climate, an overhead shade or even a hard roof may be desirable.
  • Consider Wood Alternatives. While pressure-treated cedar or redwood are both great choices for decks, you may want to consider using plastic-composite material. Although the price is higher, you'll save on maintenance time and expense and gain a much longer life span. It's also good for the environment—every 20 feet of synthetic decking board contains about 30 pounds of recycled junk that would have ended up in a landfill.

How to Create a Deck Design Plan with SmartDraw

SmartDraw gives you a number of options for drawing a deck plan. You can open up a pre-designed template and make changes to it or draw your own from scratch.

Deck design templates

SmartDraw includes a vast symbols library. Just click and place blocks, posts, surface boards, and other elements into your deck plan. You can even place tables, chairs, lounges, and other outdoor furniture on your plan to make sure you have the look and feel you want.

Deck design items

You can also draw elevation plans to see how the deck will look from grade level.

Deck dimensions

To learn more, watch this brief video: Creating Landscapes with SmartDraw.