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How to Create an Initial Deck Design

Oct 15, 2007
When the best site has been determined for the construction of the deck, it is time to put possible ideas down on paper in the form of an initial deck design. Gather as much information as possible. Study deck designs in how-to-design-it books. Browse through home improvement magazines for additional information and ideas. Visit the decks of relatives, friends and neighbors for inspiration. Take photographs if needed.

The important task is to design a deck that works. Good looks are never enough with such an outdoor living space. The deck must survive harsh weather conditions, blend in with the architectural style of the home, coordinate in some manner with interior rooms and be sturdy enough to last for years to come. To achieve all of these goals it will be necessary to use appropriate materials and construction techniques. Durable and affordable materials that comply with the local building codes and provide the look that is right for the house are a must.

Ensure that the plans are as complete as possible to minimize confusion later no matter whether the construction is being done by a homeowner or by a contractor or builder.

It is not necessary to be an artist in order to design a deck. The process is more science than it is art. The deck's basic surface pattern and substructure should be drawn in plan view as seen from above, looking straight down. The arrangement of the deck substructure should be drawn in plan view as well as elevation view in which it is seen straight on from 1 side. Railings and other vertical deck parts are best drawn in elevation view. Any attachments or detail features should be drawn from the view that most clearly shows their construction. Three dimensional detail sketches can often work best for these.

To reduce the deck's plan to paper size, it should be drawn to scale. A typical scale might be 1 foot of actual deck reduced to 1/4 or 1/2 inch depending upon the size of the deck. A simple way to do this is to use graph paper where a certain number of squares would equal 1 foot on the deck. If a larger drawing area is needed, tape sheets of graph paper together.

Initially, take the time to draw a base map which is a plan of the existing house and property. If it is possible to locate architect's drawings or deed maps that show the actual dimensions and orientation of the property, this step can be eliminated.

Certain base map data is important. Measure the area where the deck will be located. Make a rough sketch first and then transfer the information to a more refined scale drawing. The dimensions of the lot, the location of the house and other structures such as a pool, garage, storage shed or hot tub, the position of doors, windows and interior house walls, the path and direction of the sun, fencing or privacy screens, utility lines such as water, gas, sewer and electricity, the direction of prevailing winds, existing trees, shrubs and garden beds and any obstructions beyond the lot that might affect sunlight, the view or privacy should be included.

Place a sheet of tracing paper over the base map and sketch in a possible deck shape or configuration. Examine it and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. Repeat the process trying different configurations or modifying ones that seem to have possibility. Don't confine ideas to rectangles or single level decks. They may not be the best or most interesting choices in the long run. Experimentation and imagination will pay off eventually in a more satisfactory deck design.

Once a deck shape that seems to work has been created, figure the deck's actual size and confirm its shape and placement on the site. Refine the scale drawing. Consider traffic patterns. People should be able to move smoothly from the house to the deck and from the deck to the yard. If necessary, open up a house wall to improve circulation. Avoid creating traffic patterns that run through the middle of outdoor spaces. Plan them so they flow along the perimeters of these deck spaces.

Taking the time to do the research, to do careful planning and using some imagination in the intial deck design process will eventually lead to the creation of an outdoor living space that will satisfy the needs and lifestyle of family members and guests for years to come.
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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