How to Plan a Deck

What You'll Need
100-foot measuring tape
25-foot measuring tape
Graph paper and pencil
4-foot wood stakes
Mason String

Decks are a well liked home improvement because they are both functional and visually appealing. The plan for your desk is the most important aspect of its constructions.


The dimensions of your home may restrict the possible locations for a new deck and which typical features you may include or exclude.

You should plan your deck, if possible, along the north side of your home in order to have a cooler outdoor space. Otherwise you can build a screen porch to lower the temperature. Also plan the location of your deck to avoid harsh winds and noise pollution.

Legal Considerations

When planning your deck, you must account for local building codes, neighborhood rules, permit requirements, and utility connections.


While there may be legal restrictions on how large your deck can be, you should limit its size based on how it will look against your house. Stake and string the rough area for your deck to create a visual aid. Plan the area in either 2 or 4-foot spacing increments.

Shape and Decking Patterns

Consider building an angled corner or some other interesting shape, like a wrap-around corner, to create visual appeal for your deck.


You must plan your deck so that it reaches within 2-inches of the lower edge of the door. Leveled construction may be a good choice if the ground under your deck is sloped.


If you want to include a jacuzzi, you can build your deck with a cutout so that the jacuzzi rests directly upon the concrete slab. You can also leave space so that landscape features, such as trees, are included in the design.


You will find that the most visible design feature of any deck is the railing. There are many ways that railings can be designed; furthermore, they are made from wood, metal, and even rope. Local municipalities usually specify rail designs.

Steps and Stairs

Another aspect of your deck design that will be strictly regulated by zoning codes are the stairs. Most of the time, stairs must be between 3 and 4-feet wide with a maximum 7.5-inch rise and a 10-inch tread width.

Structural Components

The basic structural pieces of a deck include the vertical posts, as well as the horizontal beams and the joists. Vertical posts are placed upon concrete and spaced by at least 4-feet with a maximum of 8-feet. The joists are spaced by either 16-inched or 24-inches. Other parts of the deck include the floor and the railings.

Selecting Materials

You should build your deck from pressure treated wood, as other lumber options will not withstand the weather and sun damage that your deck is bound to experience.

Sketch Your Idea

It is a god idea to sketch the deck twice. The first graph paper sketch should be of the deck itself. The second should include the deck within your overall landscape.

Information in this article has been furnished by the National Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors.