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How to Determine The Correct Deck Shape and Size

Oct 11, 2007
A deck is a relatively inexpensive way to add square footage to a home. As a result, homeowners often tend to construct decks that are larger than they really need. The reasoning is that they feel that they will discover a way to use all of that space. However bigger is not necessarily always better.

A bigger deck can have certain drawbacks. It will add more cost to the project and will require additional maintenance. A larger deck will most certainly consume prime space for gardening and other activities. Most important of all, a bigger deck will make it more difficult to achieve a look that will fit the style of the home.

A larger deck will make an average sized house look smaller while a small house will most definitely be overwhelmed.

It is so important to plan carefully and select the correct deck shape and size that will provide what is needed by the family. Develop a list of all the ways that the deck will be used. Determine approximately how much space will be needed for each of these uses.

Use the deck plan to map out locations best suited for each of these activities. An eating area for 6, a lounging or sunning area and a cooking area will require about 200 square feet of space.

A dining area will require the area of the table plus 4 to 5 feet of clearance in all directions in order to supply adequate room for circulation and seating. A grilling area will require the area of the grill and food preparation counter, 2 feet of clearance to the railing or house wall plus 4 to 5 feet of clearance for any areas subject to traffic.

An area for lounging or sitting will need the area of each chair or lounger plus 2 feet of clearance in front of and behind the chairs. It is important to keep seating well away from the deck edge without a railing as well as stairs. Any area that is a traffic path for movement from one deck area to another requires 4 to 5 feet of width.

Think twice about including built-ins in the deck design as they make any deck space usable in only 1 way.

It makes good sense to think of the different deck activity areas as rooms. Therefore decks are able to have 1 or more rooms. Adaptability is the operative word for planning a 1 room deck. If the deck space is small, use small, lightweight outdoor furniture that does not take up a lot of room. It also has the capacity to be moved easily, folded or stacked. The barbecue or grill is generally designed with wheels or casters to enable the homeowner to move it easily and free up space for another activity.

Wide stairs with wide stair treads are great design ideas that can double as flexible seating. Multipurpose furniture such as a bench that can double as a table and has storage below is well worth including in the deck plan. A hammock can turn a small deck into a place to catch 40 winks. However it is important to make sure that the support posts are integrated into the deck design.

If a large deck is really a necessity, then the use of planters, screens and trellises can work to create cozy areas where they are needed. Otherwise, a large deck can fail to have a welcoming feeling, especially when the homeowner is simply looking to have a quiet cup of coffee or even read the paper. Something as elementary as using a canopy or a gazebo can go far to create a sense of enclosure as well as a much needed bit of privacy.

Sometimes certain deck activities need their own special space. In such situations, 2 or more rooms will be needed for the deck. A homeowner might not want to be relaxing beside the grill or dining area table. Adults might not enjoy an entertainment area that adjoins a children's play space.

In certain circumstances, homeowners will choose to build multroom decks for reasons that do not relate to having more space. They may wish to capture a view or take advantage of a sun filled exposure with a second deck room. In many cases these decks wrap around 1 or 2 corners of the home. Multiple deck rooms can be separated by strategic changes in level, planters, trellises, privacy screens and even outdoor drapes.

The design of the home and the surrounding backyard generally are the deciding factors that determine the choice of a deck shape.

Basically, it is a good idea to begin the deck design process by making a determination as to whether the new outdoor space will be a house deck or a yard deck. House oriented decks are closer and more connected to the house. The yard type deck is more connected to the landscape, is generally close to the ground and often incorporates planting beds, trees and rocks.

House decks in most cases, will look more attractive if they echo the shape of the home which in most cases is square or rectangular.

Yard oriented decks would take on more irregular or organic shapes. Curves and polygons tend to work better with decks that are transitional or somewhere in between house and yard oriented types. These shapes can be successfully used when connecting a series of deck rooms.

Any decision as to the correct deck shape and size depends upon a wide variety of factors that must be considered carefully by the homeowner in order to create a deck that will successfully satisfy all of the needs of the family's lifestyle, tastes and desires.
About the Author
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of "How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish". To Discover More About
Deck Design and Claim your 2
FREE Deck Plans, Insider Report, MP3 Audio and discover everything to know about
building a deck visit:
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