What You Need to Know When Planning a Deck

Decks and Porches
Outdoor and Gardening
Outdoor Additions
By Contractors.com Team August 20, 2021

If you’re in the mood to take your outdoor living to the next level, a deck just may be the addition you’re looking for. Even a simple deck with all the basic requisites opens up opportunities for tons of outdoor activities and hobbies. No longer will you have to resort to passing all your leisure time inside. Instead, you can opt for the fresh air to have your morning coffee, host outdoor evening game nights, read a book in the afternoon, have dinner, or simply sit back and enjoy the soft breeze. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

But before you can plan out your new lifestyle and outdoor furniture, you should first think about the construction itself. As with any construction project, you need to have a plan even if you are not building the deck yourself. Putting some extra thought into planning a deck will help you get through the building process with ease and fewer unexpected humps in the road. Start by considering what type of deck you want, followed by what lifestyle purpose it’s going to serve. After that it’s just a few little calculations, such as the shape and size of your deck, as well as its placement, the materials used, and you’re done.

Types of Decks to Choose From

There are diverse types of decks you can build. They each have their benefits as well as a few disadvantages which you will need to take into account before settling on a favorite.

Attached Unit

Figuring Out The Kind of Deck You Want

Figuring Out The Kind of Deck You Want

An attached deck, as the name suggests, is attached to the main dwelling unit — your house — at either one, two, or three of its edges. They are a house extension of sorts and can be built off the house’s foundation itself. This makes them one of the sturdier types of decks, able to handle heavier loads. Also, thanks to it being so close to the house they are much easier to work with as you have the exterior of the house for vertical additions, such as a pergola. 

The one relatively small disadvantage to attached decks is they are stylistically limited. Since they are attached to the house and possibly a patio or terrace, you’re not always as free to be flexible with how it will look. While nothing is stopping you from designing a deck completely differently from the structures around it, most deck specialists recommend keeping the attached deck consistent with the designs, materials, and style of the house. 

A Free Floating Deck

The Obvious Advantages of A Free Standing Deck

The Obvious Advantages of A Free Standing Deck

If your backyard can accommodate a deck that is completely separated from the house you can make it completely detached or floating. Sometimes you want to distance yourself from the chaos of your home, and this is why detached or floating decks are so popular.

If you have a big backyard with plenty of open space a detached deck can be the perfect outdoor addition to your home. It has all the benefits of your standard attached deck but with the bonus of being separated from the house and being completely open. As useful as having an attached deck may be, a platform completely detached from the house makes for the perfect place to unwind. 

The Convenience of a Wraparound Deck 

Bringing Outdoor Living to Your Doorstep With a Wraparound Deck

Bringing Outdoor Living to Your Doorstep With a Wraparound Deck

The wraparound is in some ways similar to the attached deck, as by nature it is also attached to the house. But unlike the attached deck which usually has its own shape or form, the wraparound deck makes use of the main structure’s exterior. Think of it as a porch with more surface area which can wrap around corners. As with the attached deck, this gives your deck more structural integrity and allows you to build a pergola or shade over the deck without installing posts into the ground. The fact that it wraps around also gives you easy access to the deck without having to walk into the backyard. 

The downside to this is that wraparound decks are typically less spacious as a result of them wrapping around the building. The width of the area is often limited since the deck cannot extend too far outward. 

A Practical Rooftop or Garage Addition

Opting for a Garage or Roof Deck Gives You Flexibility and Structural Integrity

Opting for a Garage or Roof Deck Gives You Flexibility and Structural Integrity

If you have a flat roof with a window overlooking it or a garage that has enough space for cookouts you can easily build a deck on top of these structures themselves. The obvious benefit of a roof deck is that you will have very little to worry about in terms of structural integrity. 

This deck type is perfect for homeowners who may not have enough space in their backyard or around their house. Make the best of what you have and create a gorgeous outdoor living space that can do it all. 

Purpose or Lifestyle

Once you’ve figured out what type of deck you need and picked its placement, consider how it will be used. This will help you make sense of your deck ideas, what kind of shape will accommodate these activities, as well as what material to use.

Open Air Lounging

How You Want to Use Your Deck Should Effect Its Design

How You Want to Use Your Deck Should Effect Its Design

Using the deck as an outdoor lounge requires very little. A few pieces of garden furniture, such as a small sofa and lounge chairs, a small coffee table, and perhaps a few pieces of decoration to spice up the design are all you really need. The lounge design for decks is mostly forgiving as it focuses on comfort rather than aesthetic complexity. Pick out the kind of furniture you know is going to maximize your comfort and let you relax. 

Outdoor Kitchen

The Ideal Way to Enjoy Outdoor Living Is With a Kitchen

The Ideal Way to Enjoy Outdoor Living Is With a Kitchen

For avid cooks and barbeque connoisseurs, turning the deck into a little BBQ pit can be a great reason to invite guests and show off your skills on the grill. Put a grill on top of the deck, along with a picnic table and benches to build yourself a corner for all things BBQ. This is only one of the many outdoor kitchen ideas out there. Some homeowners build kitchen sets with fully functioning sinks and stoves, and even build their own firepits for the full outdoor kitchen experience. 

Nature Haven

Deck Designs that Really Integrate With the Biophilic Element

Deck Designs that Really Integrate With the Biophilic Element

For gardeners and fans of horticulture, a garden deck can yield countless hours of pleasure. We already have some amount of nature in our lives, from potted plants to wooden furniture. Why not expand on the biophilia in your home and create a deck entombed inside a luscious jungle of gorgeous plants and greenery?

Shape and Size

The shape and size of your deck will depend entirely on the backyard space available and what you are working with. Even with limited space you can create a gorgeous deck in your backyard and complement the form of your landscape. While the national average for small decks is around 150 square feet, with the medium-sized decks being anywhere from 300 to 400 square feet, you have the freedom to make custom deck types and sizes. 

Square Shaped

The Classic Deck for Any Outdoor Lifestyle

The Classic Deck for Any Outdoor Lifestyle

Most backyard decks out there are square. And although octagon deck plans exist as well, square decks are the easiest to fit into backyards of any size. They are also less of a headache to build for those with less experience in DIY. It is simple, practical, and a very fun external addition to your landscape. 

Pool Deck

Having a Pool Deck Will Keep All Ages Happy for a Long Time

Having a Pool Deck Will Keep All Ages Happy for a Long Time

Not everyone has the landscape for an in-ground pool installation. So, many homeowners opt for an above-ground pool with deck surroundings, as this is very cost-effective and can be just as attractive as its in-ground counterpart. Construct the pool deck to complement the shape of the pool itself and give it some extra functionality. While there is no optimal deck size to use around the pool you should build it with enough room to walk around on, lounge, and even barbeque without falling into the water.

L Shaped Decks


With An L-Shaped Deck You Can Enjoy Seamless Indoor to Outdoor Living

With An L-Shaped Deck You Can Enjoy Seamless Indoor to Outdoor Living

Wraparound decks are a great way to make the best of what space you have around your house. One of the most popular wraparound deck designs you can use is the L deck shape. It covers plenty of space around the house without having to extend too far out. Many homeowners enjoy the convenience of having plenty of space on their decks without having to dedicate a large portion of their backyard to make it happen.


Lastly, think about what material you want your deck to be built from. The material you choose will have a huge impact on not only the structural integrity of your deck but also its longevity and resistance to outdoor elements. 


For most people who have some experience with woodworking, cedar is always a great choice. Unlike other natural lumber, cedar is very lightweight. At the same time it is quite durable and given the right protection is applied, can last for a very long time. It is naturally insect repellant, meaning you will not have to worry about all kinds of critters scuttling about inside your deck.


Redwood comes with all the advantages of cedar, from how light it is, to how it is naturally insect and rot repellant. But it is typically a lot more expensive than cedar, and this is due to it being even more durable than cedar. You will find that redwood lasts longer as well. It also requires slightly less maintenance, though it will still need a few protective coats to keep it from cracking and chipping — much like any other hardwood structure.


If you want something that requires as little maintenance as possible, composite is your answer. The material is made by blending recycled wood and plastic. Composite deck planks are very lightweight, durable, and super easy to work with. Because they are part plastic, they are impervious to deforming, something that even the highest quality natural wood has trouble with. 


Entirely weatherproof, rustproof, and resistant to insects and rot, aluminum is a great choice for those who do not consider a wooden deck to be the end all be all. Aluminum is one of the most versatile metals to work with and it is a perfect material for building a deck. For the outdoor kitchen deck setup, aluminum is a great material, since it is least likely to burn from cookout accidents like a few loose hot coals.


PVC — often referred to as vinyl — is a very popular material used for anything from exterior cladding to flooring. It is a special plastic designed to be very durable, weather-resistant, and low maintenance. No insects, no rot, and no warping make PVC the perfect decking material for most climates.

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team