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How to Choose Deck Size and Shape

Oct 11, 2007
Deck size and shape are interrelated elements of design that can influence each other. After the location has been determined, there are certain principles that can be considered in order to determine the size of the deck that is just right.

Generally speaking, make any outdoor living spaces slightly larger than indoor rooms intended for the same purpose. A family room 16 by 18 feet in size would be modified to be 18 by 20 feet outside in order to accomodate similar activities. A 10 foot square breakfast nook would equate to a 12 foot square area outside for the same function.

Outdoor furniture designed for leisure living tends to be slightly larger than indoor furniture. An outdoor chair generally occupies a square yard of deck area while a bench seat requires a 3 foot wide space. A walking space requires a minimum width of 3 feet while a main pathway would be 4 to 5 feet in width. Main steps would be 4 to 6 feet in width.

Include furniture arrangements and traffic patterns in the plan to ensure that there is enough room provided. Use planters, dividers, alcoves and benches to break up larger areas.

Consider the size of the home and the size of the yard when trying to determine an appropriate size for the deck. A large home can overwhelm a small deck while a smaller home can make a comfortably sized deck feel too large. Avoid wall to wall decks that span the entire back of the home since they create a feeling that the deck and house are out of proportion.

Making a decision as to the shape of a deck is a daunting task initially. There are so many shapes from which to choose. Squares, rectangles, curves, angles, L-shapes, T-shapes and free forms are just some of the possibilities. However, site conditions, furniture arrangements, access points and possible deck functions are factors that will greatly influence the eventual shape selection.

Create the deck shape by aligning the sides of the deck with existing features. The swimming pool, a hot tub, fence lines, a large tree, the garage wall. doors and windows may suggest the length and the direction of other sides of the deck.

If the landscape design is basically formal, plan a symmetrical deck laid out along a clear axis or center line. Use an interesting focal point such as a water feature or a hot tub to define the axis.

Use a modular grid to define any edges and shapes. Formal designs have a stronger grid pattern often seen as rows of contrasting materials such as bricks. Informal designs use a less obvious grid. Establish the grid on any repetitive features of the home such as rows of windows or posts that support a porch roof. Follow a similar grid structure in the placement of planter boxes, benches and similar elements.

Discover existing shapes that can be duplicated or mirrored. Most often these are squares or rectangles. However when hexagons, octagons or circles are present make every attempt to incorporate those patterns into the design. Shapes can also be found in surrounding natural elements. A wide horizon dominated by a lake view might be mirrored by a long deck railing. A curving stream might suggest a serpentine shape to the deck.

The use of angles can be interesting but only where they are used logically. Angled deck sides make sense when they orient to a breathtaking view, redirect a pathway to a stairway or make a connection between 2 prominent features. Angles also have the capacity to soften corners. It makes good design sense to restrict angles to those that are related such as 90, 60 and 30 or 90, 45 and 22.5 degrees.

Take into account the effect that a shape can have. Long lines and rectangles create the illusion of serenity. Sharp angles and zigzgs are dramatic and bold but can be disturbing. Curves are most definitely restful and calming.

Not every deck is a regular geometric shape. Some of them can be free form such as a curved, seemingly random and spontaneous shape. These shapes have the capacity to blend in well with the natural surroundings of the yard.

Taking the time to consider the principles that affect deck size and the factors that can influence the choice of deck shape is one of the most important actions that a homeowner can take in the planning, designing and actual construction of such an outdoor living space. Choosing the best deck size and shape is definitely worthwhile.
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 Size and Shape 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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