When you're ready to upgrade or build a deck, the planning stage will take you through a number of deck designs with options that allow you to customize your plan. Don't rush this part of the process. Take the time needed to find the suitable deck for your household needs.
Factors to Consider When Designing a Deck
As you design your deck there are a number of factors to take into consideration. For example, you want to ensure that you choose features that not only complement the design of your house, but you also want your deck to complement your lifestyle. If you don't take time to plan properly, you may be stuck with a design that doesn't meet your expectations. The following three items should be among the items considered in the planning process:
Before you do anything, it's best to check with your local authorities to find out what zoning ordinances apply. These ordinances can limit a variety of aspects of your finished deck. Along with finding out whether a building permit is required, be sure to check covenants and restrictions in effect through your neighborhood homeowner's association. These may include things like:
- Deck size
- Deck height
- Height of privacy screens
- Minimum distance from lot line to your deck including stairs
- Restrictions as to what your deck can look like - you may even have to gain approval for your design before you build.
One thing people often think about when installing a deck is the view. The orientation of your home most likely will limit deck location possibilities on your property, but if limited possibilities are less attractive than you would like, think outside the box. For instance, add a door to expand location possibilities. While you're at it, consider the climate. The north side of the house will experience the coldest temperatures in most cases, which won't be the best if you hope to install a hot tub. Deck location can make a big difference in you level of enjoyment.
Shape and Patterns
As you choose the design for your deck, note that the more complicated you make your deck, the more it will cost in time and materials. Simple customization can dress up your house and add to its value, but don't forget to check with your local ordinances before you settle on your final design.
Today's deck design tools include online services and software that offers functions like generating a list of needed project materials as well as letting you see what you plan will look like before the first hammer hits a nail.
SmartDraw offers design software that will help you create the perfect deck to match your home. You can choose a deck template that suits your needs and then drag in different design elements. Dimensions are shown automatically, and you can easily change them by dragging the end of a board or typing in the measurement you want.
The program includes visuals for accents like:
- Hot tubs
SmartDraw offers a free trial download so you can tryout the software before purchasing it.
More Software Resources
- DIY Deck Designer: This software lets you design a deck and preview a 3D draft of your idea on a photo of your own home. It takes away the guesswork and creates complete deck plans along with a materials list.
- Turbo Floor Plan: This software isn't just for designing decks, but provides everything you need to put together plans to build your house from scratch. The deck wizard helps to customize the perfect deck for your home.
- Design-a-Deck: With the click of your mouse, this software from Better Homes and Gardens lets you drag and drop shapes to try various designs until you find the deck that makes you happy.
Many sites online offer you the chance to build your own deck, either for free or for a small fee. Some of these sites include:
- TimberTech: Free deck plans that allow you to choose the size, shape and color of the deck. Add stairs, railings and levels to complete the look.
- Real Cedar: If a cedar deck is what you're looking for, head to Real Cedar's online deck design tool. Select an existing design, modify it, then view it in 3D.
- Versadeck: Versadeck's erect-a-deck program gives you both free and custom options to allow you to design the deck of your dreams.
Take Care of Your Deck
Whether you're upgrading your current deck or designing a deck from scratch, there are plenty of tools and ideas out there to inspire you. Once your deck is complete, be sure to care for it properly to extend its life and usefulness. Make a plan to inspect your deck annually, determine what needs fixing, and follow through and do it. This not only keeps your deck looking good, but keeps your family safe while using it.