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Deck Design Principles

A deck is commonly defined as a platform constructed above ground usually with wood, composite, PVC or other materials, and is attached to the main building.

Homeowners cannot determine halfway through building a deck on the design they wish to adopt. It will disrupt the construction and installation process, thereby delaying the deck installation process entirely.

It is important to have a design in place for smooth construction and installation.

Planning and Functionality

The first principle to consider is the principle of planning and functionality. To determine the planning and functionality of a deck, identify what it is needed for, the activities carried out on it, foot traffic, smooth movement and easy access to various parts of the house.

Identifying Needs and Activities

Before constructing a deck, have an idea of what the deck would be used for. It could be for dining, relaxation, entertaining, fitness exercises, gardening, holding a summer barbecue, etc. This will help determine the size and layout of the deck.

For instance, the more activities that will occur on the deck, the larger and stronger the deck should be.

Traffic Flow and Access

A deck should be constructed in such a way that people can easily walk through and fro the deck floor without running into furniture or each other.

This means that movement across the deck floor should be as smooth as possible.

This can be achieved by making the deck bigger, arranging the furniture properly and ensuring the deck is uncluttered.

Major parts of the house should be easily accessible such as doorways and stairs.

Layout and Proportions

This revolves around the shape and size of the deck. It is also concerned about determining each zone and what it will be used for, and where to place certain outdoor elements such as pergolas, fencing panel, built-in tables and chairs, etc.

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Shape and Size

When determining spaces, most homeowners work with what they have. This implies considering available space and whether it will be enough for any functional plan.

With this, it is easy to understand if the shape of the decking board will be square, rectangular or have a multi-level design.

Remember that the deck will later be connected to the house, hence, it has to be proportionally fit the shape of the house also.

Zoning and Defining Spaces

Zoning a deck is important because it helps determine the functions each zone will have. Simply put, it is the area that will be used for grilling, relaxing, dining, entertaining guests, etc.

The arrangement of furniture items and built-in features can help in zoning and defining spaces.

Sun and Shade

The level of sun exposure that an outdoor space gets determines where a deck will be placed. For instance, a gardening deck will need a location that has high sun exposure.

However, the reverse is the case if the deck is for relaxation or entertainment.

If pergolas, awnings or shade sails will be added, there is a need to study the sun movement and exposure in an outdoor space throughout the day to determine the right placement.

Integration with the Building

After the right size and layout, the work is not yet done. The next step is to connect it with the building and to properly do that, select the right materials, match the design features, and place it at the right access points.

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Material Selection

Selecting the right materials for a deck is vital as it complements a house’s style and existing materials. For instance, the material used to construct a house also influences the choice of decking materials.

Also, consider the maintenance requirement of whatever decking material is chosen. Busy people should ordinarily not opt for materials that require high maintenance. They should instead stick to a low-maintenance option like composite decking board.

Matching Design Features

Ensure that the colour, style and pattern of the deck railings, trimmings and other elements align with the house’s architectural details.

Let the outdoor design complement the indoor design in such a seamless flow.

Visual cohesion of both the indoor and outdoor space also adds to the beauty of the deck.

Access Points and Transitions

Ensure that access to your doorways and/or stairs is easy and smooth. Whether the house uses doors, French doors, or sliding glass doors, the deck design must encourage a seamless transition between the house and these entrances/exits.

Ensure that the height of the deck aligns properly with the height of the doorways to ensure easy access.


There are a few more things to consider before designing a deck.

First, building codes or regulations concerning railing specifications, height restrictions and deck size. Homeowners should research these codes or regulations and ensure that they adhere to them to avoid being penalised.
If they intend to go into gardening or planting, they can consider installing rainwater harvesting systems to channel rainwater into their garden or potted plants.

Source: engineeringcivil

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