Deck Design Ideas That’ll Bring Your Backyard Vision to Life

 In Outdoor Living Space

Whether you’re looking to add a small platform for grilling out or a multilevel masterpiece for dazzling large groups, planning a new deck has never been more exciting, thanks to the huge assortment of styles, designs and materials available. Aligning your budget with your vision can be tricky, let alone sorting through the structural and zoning requirements that might be involved. Consider these options and designs when putting together a plan for your new dream deck.

Play with a full deck

Before you dig into the world of decks, it might be helpful to review a few key terms that will continually pop up:

Girder: The framing that attaches horizontally to the posts, supporting the joists.

Bridging: The lumber between joists used to strengthen the framing and prevent twisting.

Decking: The planks that make up the floor of the deck.

Footings: The underground concrete support columns.

Joists: Horizontal framing that supports the decking.

Ledger: The board attached to the side of the house used to support one side of the deck.

Posts: Vertical timbers used to support the deck framing.

Railing: The rails, rail posts, cap rails and baulsters that provide a safety barrier along the sides of the deck

Treads: The horizontal planks that make up the step surface of stairways.

Popular styles


If you don’t want to anchor a deck to your home for structural, aesthetic or zoning reasons, a freestanding deck allows you to create an island for your favorite outdoor activities anywhere in your backyard. Instead of using a ledger on one or more sides of the deck, freestanding decks use beams, footings and posts for support.


Whether you need to slope your deck to match the incline of your yard or just want an unobstructed, tiered view, a series of connected decks might be an ideal option. You can design each level to match a different purpose, such as an area for an outdoor bar, a section for grilling and dining, etc. A multilevel deck can really highlight your attention to detail and planning.


One of the simplest deck styles, a platform is built very low to the ground and usually doesn’t need a lot of railing to protect against falls. Being so low to the ground can also mean applying sealants and other additional precautions for direct ground contact should be taken. Take a platform deck to the next level with a pergola, benches, tables and other built-in features that give the entire construction a cohesive, functional appearance.


Since many homes are built on foundation walls a few feet above ground level, raised decks that meet the first-floor construction are common. Unlike platform decks, raised decks will usually require railings for safety and stairs for accessibility. The exposed posts underneath may also require landscaping or skirting to conceal the support system while also allowing air circulation that will help stave off rot, plant debris and the occasional unwanted critter.

Design Inspiration


Illuminate: Integrate LED or other recessed lighting features for both safety and ambiance. If you know you’ll spend many of your evenings on the deck, well-lit stairs and railings will help avoid accidents and

Enclosed spaces:Not all outdoor living spaces need to be totally outdoors. A hybrid approach can turn all or part of a deck into a comfortable sun room. Weatherproof windows can be added and removed as the seasons change, allowing a modular solution for homeowners in different climates.

Don’t overlook an overlook: Running out of ground? Don’t level the yard to meet the deck—build out the deck to provide a sweeping view! The elevation can also open up options for other outdoor living spaces, storage and more beneath the decking.

Play with lines: Following the wood grain in your boards or mix-and-matching stains, patterns and different wood types can add flair to an otherwise monochrome deck design.

Pool party: Building decking around a pool is a classic American past time. Just remember that above-ground pools should not be used as support for a deck. Both above-ground and in-ground pools might introduce additional local regulations, including the slip resistance, gap between decking boards, and grade of the deck.

Tree house: Not just for kids anymore, including the trees around your home in your deck design can add natural beauty to your outdoor living space. Keep in mind the extra work to build around the trunks and the maintenance required from falling leaves, sap, root growth and other plant debris.

Make it your own

Limited only by your budget and the friendly International Residential Code regulations, designing a deck in 2018 is an exciting, fun project that will add value to your home and all the cookouts, pool parties and outdoor celebration you’ll soon have.

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