If you are lucky enough to have a deck or enough room in your yard (and in your budget) to build one, consider the following deck design ideas. You could go the more traditional route and use your deck as a hot tub enclave or an outdoor kitchen, or consider thinking outside the box and move the deck from its traditional location in the back of your property to the front. Your deck could be an entryway into your home, an addition to a bedroom or even incorporated into a garden.
Before you drive the first nail, decide how you want to use your deck, and find a suitable location. Think outside the box: although decks are often constructed on sloping property, in reality, you can build a deck nearly anywhere you can build a patio or porch, or even serve as a transition from your home to a patio or a garden area. However, local building codes may dictate what structures are permitted and even where you can construct your deck.
Once you've settled on a location for your deck, decide how you want to use it. Deck planning software can help you map out your ideas to minimize costly errors. Although there are standard features to nearly all decks, the specifics are also shaped by the purpose the deck is intended to serve. An outdoor kitchen has different requirements from an open air gathering space with an entertainment area and outdoor fireplace or even a hot tub. Your budget also plays a consideration: a simple sun room or open-air deck is much less expensive than plans that require outdoor wiring and plumbing.
Traditional deck materials include redwood, cedar and cypress, each of which are durable, rot-resistant and strong. However, pressure-treated lumber may be a more affordable alternative; new laws assure that the chemicals used to treat the wood are not harmful and the wood can be pre-stained to make it look like redwood. Another affordable, low-maintenance alternative is to use synthetic deck materials. Elevated decks will need safety railings around their perimeters; wood is common, but metal and even stainless steel railing can add a touch of elegance and class.
Lighting is another important feature, especially if you plan to host friends and family for evening events. Pathway lights add an element of safety during evening gatherings, and also highlight your lawn and deck. Lighting installed at the base of the railing posts of your deck or on the caps of corner posts are a subtle means of providing needed illumination.
To protect your deck from the elements, consider a screened-in enclosure or a pergola, an open-air roof structure designed to shield your deck from precipitation or the harsh rays of the sun. Adding a water drainage system to a deck with high overhead clearance along with screening or walls and windows can effectively double your outdoor living space, creating an area underneath the deck that is shielded from weather by design. Your deck can also serve as a transition between your house and your garden or patio. The materials used for your patio and deck need not be identical but they should coordinate to create a sense of unity between the spaces.
Fitting out your deck with furnishings and accessories will depend largely on how you've decided to use your space. An outdoor fireplace or a fully-equipped kitchen, complete with built-in barbecue grill, along with an generously-sized outdoor eating area and well-spaced seating create an inviting outdoor entertainment area. A hot tub on your deck almost creates a party of its own. However, along with electricity and plumbing, your hot tub will require bracing to support its weight.
If a built-in fireplace is beyond your budget, consider a portable fireplace, along with cozy seating areas, lighting, and side tables to hold snacks or reading material for an enclosed deck with screening or large-paned windows that can serve as a sun room or screened-in porch. Weather-resistant furnishings and even electronics along with patio heaters and misting fans can assure that your deck includes all the comforts of an indoor family room or kitchen.