Professional-looking decks require a fair amount of design and planning, whether the construction is done by the homeowner or a professional. Details are extremely important in creating your deck design and construction steps. If you spend adequate time and energy on the steps involved in the process, you can create a magnificent deck.


A deck can add outdoor living space to your home. Photo by Li Read

Let’s look at the steps for creating your deck addition.

1. Learn the specifications and legalities where you live regarding the design and placement of the deck. Check on zoning laws and building codes. It may be that you need to get approval from your homeowner’s association.

2. Make sure your underground pipes and utility lines are found and marked before any digging commences. Above-ground utility features near the area where you will be doing the construction should be considered and identified, especially if your deck is going to be covered. Your design may be affected by the location of underground lines.

3. Plan your design carefully. Pay attention to deck access from both the yard and the house. Put thought into the deck’s height and it’s proportion in relation to the yard and house. Factor in the materials, plank sizes and any special designing that will go into the plank-laying. Factor in footings and railings, as well as structural support factors.

4. Create detailed design drawings.The more detail you put into your drawings, the simpler it will be to build the deck the way you have planned it. This is true even if you are hiring a professional to do the job.

5. Get the needed building permits. Building with codes in mind helps you create a safe project. In addition, it costs less to obtain the permit than it does to pay fines at a later date for not doing so!

6. Choose your materials carefully.  You may elect to use engineered wood, vinyl, or natural wood as the primary material for your deck. Pay attention to color, size, grain, and other factors. In your selection, consider how easy the materials will be to work with, how durable they will be, and how they will be maintained.

7. Schedule your work. Scheduling is important, even if you are building the project yourself. Factor in the weather and climate conditions, and know that digging is involved in placing the footing. Concrete work is part of many footings. If using a contractor, you may be able to lessen the costs by scheduling during the slow season.

8. Gather your tools. If you are the builder, make sure you have every kind of tool you’ll need for the project. Review your plans to determine your tool needs for each step. You can borrow or rent some of the tools if necessary.

9. Remember the importance of the foundation. It is the primary supporting structure for the deck. Doing this part right is vital if you want to build a stable and safe deck.

10. Make sure your deck is structurally sound. You can make your design highly elaborate, but if your structure is not sound, it won’t be able to support activity, furniture or people.

11. Once the deck is completed, check to see what must be done to protect the materials from the elements.  Natural wood will likely need a stain or paint. You have taken the big step of creating a nice project. Now is the time to give it an extended lifespan by treating it.

Making plans for your deck addition requires taking into account the above steps so that you can make an attractive, stable and safe structure for your home.

You might be interested in our Contractor Selection Workbook: a step-by-step guide to help you select the right contractor.