Deck designs are similar to house designs, letting you make decisions on paper where it's easy and inexpensive to make changes. Deck design software let's you experiment with different layouts and view the designs in 3 dimensions.
While you will focus on your deck layout, or top down view similar to a floor plan, your deck design will also include a framing plan that describes the underlying support structure for your deck. To build your deck then, your deck design needs to include a deck layout, the framing plan and a material list.
Deck Design Starts with Picking the Deck Type
A deck is basically an outdoor floor attached to a home made of wood or wood like material. There are many different types of decks used to enhance a home and the lifestyle of those who live there. Your choice of a deck type will be based on available space surrounding your home, your home's style and the key lifestyle features your deck will include like a pool or spa.
All decks can have one or more of the following characteristics:
- Decks are either attached to your home or free-standing. While a free-standing deck requires more support piers near the house, the benefit is you won't have to worry about drainage and water damage along the ledger board used to attach decks to houses.
- Decks are either open or covered with a roof or pergola that provides partial shade.
- Covered decks may be open on the sides or enclosed with screens or a combination of screens and walls.
There are many factors that influence your deck's location and design:
- Most homes have the space for a deck to extend out from the house, covering part of the backyard or possibly a side yard. Be aware that local zoning may have setback requirements for where your deck can sit on your property.
- Not always a disadvantage, the slope of your backyard may suggest a multi-level deck design, with steps connecting the different decks to each other, the house and the ground.
- Views from the deck might influence where you build your deck. Balconies are popular outside a master bedroom and roof decks provide similar views without needing extra ground coverage to support them.
- A front deck or porch might be your ideal location based on the views from this location.
- Decks need not be adjacent to your home. Pool and spa decks are often set further back in the yard to separate activities and position the pool on level ground. Gazebo's are also placed away from the home to integrate them into the landscape design and/or create an oasis of peace and quiet.
Decks Can Enhance Your Home's Curb Appeal
One of the earliest types of decks was the front porch, a place where people could relax informally outside the house. Porches were in a sense, the first form of air conditioning because you could escape the heat of indoors and hopefully catch a breeze outside. Most porches include a roof and one of the most popular porch styles is the wrap-around porch that invites interaction with neighbors in front of your house while providing more private space on the side of your home. To learn more about the history of American porches, you can visit the PorchProject.org.
Another type of front porch is the entrance porch or portico. A portico leads to the entrance of a building, providing a roof structure over a walkway which is supported by columns and may be enclosed by walls. Porticos date back to ancient Greece and serve public buildings like the United States Capitol well, protecting visitors from the elements.