Deck Designs & Deck Building
|Constructing a deck from free deck designs that you and your family can enjoy is easy. Once you have the plans to build your deck, you may want to add steps leading down to a stone patio or walkway that matches the patio, stretching through a gate.|
You might think thatís a little far fetched, but the reality of deck design and landscaping that include decks, patios and walkways, are only limited by your imagination.
In addition, the products that are available today make it even that much more thought provoking since there are now many different types of materials that can be used to construct your deck.
For example, did you know that deck building can now be constructed with plastic materials that act like wood? You can still nail, screw and glue the boards, but youíll never need to paint them. This type of material has taken the maintenance work out of decking, making it more attractive to those who have stayed away due to the work involved with staining every few years.
Another new product for wood decks is a decking strip. It glues to your existing boards and prevents splinters, as well as eliminating the requirement for stain or paint. This product is great for worn decks that need a face-lift.
There is of course the traditional wood deck, with designs that are absolutely unlimited. These decks can be simple or massive, and give that traditional look and feel of a deck that we have all grown to know and love. Even down to the smell of the treated wood.
This site has been designed to give you ideas, information, and free deck designs to get your deck building going. As you read further, there are some deck plans included, but donít let these deck plans limit what you want. All can be modified by adding or subtracting to make the perfect place for you and your family.
Free Deck Designs
When deciding to build a deck, you must first choose a deck plan. This is done in many ways just as designing a landscape would be done. First, you start on paper or with a computer software program that helps you design the deck of your dreams (Home Depot or Loweís have these programs you can use for free).
Think first what function you want your deck to serve. Is it a sundeck for a pool, or will it be used to entertain guests at a barbeque? Once youíve decided what the main purpose of the deck will be, you must then decide on a location and size.
Many people make the mistake of making their deck too small. That 8 x 10 deck sounds big enough until you put a grill and deck furniture on it. Then, youíre lucky if youíre able to move around at all. Try and leave at least 50% of your deck as free space, even after adding furniture, so youíll have plenty of room to move around.
Once youíve decided on the purpose, size and location of your deck, you must decide on the design style and material youíll use. As stated before, decks are no longer just wood. There are many material options to choose from now and many, although maybe a little more expensive in the beginning, are maintenance free in the long run.
If you choose one of these type decking materials, the cost in the end may actually be less than a wood deck when you consider the cost of stain over the years.
When deciding on the site and amenities you want your deck to include, be sure and take full advantage of the unique features your home already offers. For example, if you have French Doors leading from the rear of your home, and a pool not too far away from the doors, create a deck that will be able to incorporate the two so that they are connected and easily accessed from the deck.
Itís not difficult to design a custom deck completely from scratch. All you need to do is use basic principles and design guidelines. Your deck should offer privacy and a sense of enclosure. This will create a comfortable feel. Use existing trees, walls or fences and incorporate them into the deck plan to create this feeling of seclusion. If you donít have many barriers, incorporate fast growing trees or shrubs into your plan. This will create the look and feel youíre after in just a few short years. Use benches, plants and other amenities to give the deck a softer feel. This also creates an atmosphere of comfort.
Another guideline is the size of the deck. It should always be appropriate for its intended purpose. A good way to judge the appropriate size of your deck is to think about how large a room would be inside your existing home, if used for the same purpose. If youíll be using the deck for family entertaining, and your family room is 10 x 15, then that would be a good place to start for a deck size. After measuring it out, you can always adjust the size if it seems too large or too small.
Often, people will create their decks to butt up against existing rooms in their home, making the deck an extension of that room. For example, a family room with a door for outside access can be combined with a deck to enlarge the living area, creating an indoor/outdoor entertainment area for family and friends.
Also think about additional purposes your deck may serve. If it will be a multipurpose deck, then you may want to create different levels to separate the different purposes. A sundeck, sitting area, and cooking area can all be at different levels to create a distinct impression for each areas intended use. If different levels arenít appropriate for your deck, think about using an L or T shaped deck to separate the different areas. These can be designed as a level deck, but used with benches and different type furniture to separate and define the areas a little better.
Make sure the deck is in proportion with the house. You never want the deck to overwhelm the house by being too large and dwarfing its surroundings.
A deck should also be accessible and inviting. You want to create as many entrances to the deck as possible. Many homes have a door that leads from the dinette and another that leads from the family room. If possible, both of these doors should be utilized and connected to the deck. Also, try and use walkways to attach the deck to existing gates, or a path from the front of the home to the deck. If possible, all decks should have at least two entrances.
If your deck is multi-level, make sure you use wider steps to create an inviting appeal for the transition of levels. Also steps that lead to your lawn or garden should be wide and inviting. Use landscaping lights and other amenities to add to the welcome appeal.
Your deck should be comfortable. Take advantage of your yardís individual climates. The direction of the wind, path of the sun and patterns of shade should all be taken into account when designing your deck.
For example, you can create a deck to be in the sun during certain times of the day, but also take in the shade at other times by using exterior walls, fences and plant screens.
You can capture the pleasant breezes of summer, but shelter it from unwelcome winds at other times of the year. You may find that a deck that sits high gets much more wind than a lower deck that seems to trap the current climate.
Also, look around you when designing your deck. Do you like the view? If not, you may need to rethink the location, or create barriers to create a different view.
Try and capture smells as well in your deck design. For example, if lilac is planted close to your deck, youíll capture the sweet smells of spring which adds to the inviting nature a deck provides.
The deck should harmonize naturally with its setting. From each and every viewpoint of a deck, it should flow with its surroundings. The shape, line, color, texture and mass should all be in line with the existing house and surroundings.
Most decks are rectangles, but angles, property lines, and curved lawns may dictate that the deck needs to be built with variations of this shape. Simple shapes will produce a stronger design than complex shapes in general.
Donít forget, the edges and railings are very distinct lines and should align with the strong visual points such as the corners of the home, view of corridors, or the forms in the landscape such as lawns and flower beds.
If youíre using traditional materials, stain and paint in the same hue as your home. This will help the deck harmonize that much more with its surroundings.
The decks overall sense of mass is created by a combination of its height, railings, understructure and proportions. Itís much easier to blend a low-lying deck with its surroundings. However, if your deck is high from the ground, youíll need to put much more thought into its basic design and how youíll blend the deck so it harmonizes with its surroundings.
Finally, your deck should have a special unifying element to it. With a well-balanced design, the deck will have a delightful and appealing quality. This appeal comes from all the elements working together to create the final look and feel.
All good designs will have a focal point that brings attention to that area. For example, a unique piece of furniture or a sculpture placed strategically so it can be seen in a panoramic view from all sides of the deck would be examples of a good focal point for attention.
When the design is all said and done, a good rule of thumb is that quality will go much further than quantity. Keep it as simple as possible. This will create a much more desired effect than that of a cluttered or over designed deck site.
Deck Plans | Free Deck Building Plans | How to Build a Deck
The following are free deck plans that are to be used as guides when designing your deck. Some of the plans are very simple, while others are a little more complex. Some designs, such as the modular section plan, can be incorporated into other deck designs to create a unique look, or to offset a section of deck. For example, a T shaped deck that is flush to the ground can utilize modular sections to create the sides of the T. This will offset those sections for use of a different purpose as much as a multi-level deck would.
This is one of my favorites. Itís simple and versatile. It can be laid directly onto the ground, or used over an existing flat surface. Itís great for homes that donít have a lot of privacy screens in their yard because it lies close to the ground.
Higher decks create a greater need for screening than a low-lying deck. Low-lying decks can be camouflaged much easier with plants and small fences set in strategic areas.
Another great thing about a modular deck is that you can always add to it. If you can only afford an 8 x 10 deck this year, adding on the same amount of deck next year will make that same deck 16 x 20. No one will ever know you built the deck in sections over a period of time because you can use the deck as it is installed from the very beginning.
This deck can be installed a number of ways. You can lay the sections on a flat surface independently, you can nail the sections together, or you can install the sections on sleepers to prevent moving if the ground shifts. Many people use these decks as floating decks in their yard for the summer months, then pick up the pieces and store them through the winter. This allows you to use the deck in areas that you normally wouldnít build a deck, such as a private corner of the yard.
Building the 3 x 3 Deck Modules
Materials Ė Use pressure treated lumber for the deck modules. Try and choose wood that doesnít have a lot of knots in it. Itís stronger than knotted wood.
Cutting Ė Since all the pieces are cut to the same length, you will cut four 35 Ĺ inch lengths from each board. You may find it easier to precut all the wood, or ask the lumberyard where you purchased the wood to cut them for you to save time.
Assembly Ė To build each module, you will need a nailing jig. Place nine of the 2 x 4 cut pieces inside the jig with their best side down. Be sure and space each section equally when laying the boards out inside the jig. Lay the two cleats over the boards as shown and nail. When you have completed the module, nail two ĹĒ plywood scraps on two sides of the module to provide uniform spacing between the modules when placing more than one module together.
Hopefully by now youíve decided how many modules youíll need to design the deck of your choice. The example above is for 12 modules which would approximately create a 9 x 12 deck. If you want a larger deck, you would use more modules, a smaller deck would use less. You can also alter the size of the modules. However, be careful when going larger with the modules. Since these decks have no under support, larger deck boards will not be as sturdy. If youíre creating modules with deck boards over 3 feet in length, it will be necessary to use additional under support. Nailing a 2 x 4 across the middle, in the same direction as the cleats, can do this.
Now that your design has been chosen, itís time to set the modules on the ground in their final location. A wood deck that is placed directly on the ground wonít last indefinitely, but if precautions are taken when installing originally, your deck will last many years. The first step is site and ground preparation.
Make sure the site you choose has good drainage. This will prevent damp wood and shifting boards. To prepare a good drainage area, you should excavate a shallow depression where the deck will lie and fill it with three inches of gravel. Level the area, and then apply a layer of polyethylene sheeting for weed control. You want to be sure and puncture the sheeting every two or three feet to provide holes for draining when it rains.
Once the ground is prepared, lay out string lines to guide the placement of the sleepers. The modules will be set upon the sleepers. Also lay out center axes along with the perimeter lines. This is done because construction will take place from the center outward.
The next step is to lay the sleepers as shown below. Set the modules in place, starting at the center and working outward. Use plywood shims for even spacing. Itís a good idea to toenail the modules to the sleepers. This will enable them to stay in place if there should be shifting of the ground. To unify the deck with a border after all the modules are in place, nail four fascia boards around the perimeter. Use miter joints at the corners for a more finished look.
Remember, these deck designs are only one option when using deck modules. There are many other designs you can use. The example below shows the same modules as described above, but the modules are built in 3 x 6 foot sections, instead of 3 x 3 sections.
This design doesnít need the extra cleat because the deck boards are not more than 3 feet in length; however, the different length cut creates a completely different look.
These modules are very versatile and can be used almost anywhere. Be creative. If you live in the city, you can even use these on rooftops. If you own an in-ground swimming pool consider using them as pool decking. By laying the modules out in different directions to create different designs, youíll be able to create something simple, yet very unique.