26+ Outdoor Deck Designs and Ideas (With Photos)

best deck design ideas

Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford

Building a deck is something homeowners want to get right on the first try, so planning is crucial before construction begins. 

Deck Designs, by Steve Cory, is the first stop for anyone planning to add a deck.

It is filled with photographs of real-life decks, design-planning strategies and advice from top deck designers, ensuring that homeowners get it right on the first go-round.

best deck ideas for backyard

A. How to Design the Deck

The most useful and satisfying deck will be one the homeowner had a hand in designing. This is a space that will be used by the very unique people living in a house, and while a designer can provide expert advice, the specifics of how a deck will be used can only come from those using it. So even when hiring a professional, be sure to take part in the design process. According to Deck Designs, here’s how:

  • Steal ideas.
  • Draw & Discuss. Get input from family members and sketch out ideas.
  • Make basic decisions about use of materials and functional elements.
  • Think about design elements, such as height, lines, size, shape & color.

B. Outdoor Living

outdoor living

Think of a deck as an extension of the home instead of a new space. It will make the deck more inviting and a natural part of the living area. Kitchens are a popular way to create an outdoor living space, and building a deck is the perfect time to consider this option. Having an outdoor kitchen also makes for quick entertaining and cooking. Other outdoor living spaces that should be considered on the deck include:

C. The Best Materials for Decks and Railings

deck materials

There is a large variety of decking material options from which to choose, so it’s important to understand their differences, aside from price.

Pressure treated lumber comes in different types of wood depending on the area of the country where it’s purchased, and some hardwoods take to the treatment process better than others. Other material choices include synthetic decking, ironwood, redwood, cedar and treated decking.

Lumber yards commonly carry 2-by-6 decking boards made out of cedar or redwood, and the grade you use depends on your aesthetic goals and budget. Higher grade knot-free boards are attractive but significantly more expensive than knotted boards.

An alternative is Ipé, a Brazilian hardwood that is sustainably farmed is available in 3/4 and 5/4-inch thicknesses. It makes an attractive, long-lasting. eco-friendly deck.

Composite decking is another eco-friendly, long-lasting product that is made from recycled materials. It is easy to install and made to look just like real wood. It isn’t wood, though, and may not be suitable if you want a natural-looking deck.

Related35+ Best Deck Skirting Ideas and Designs

1. Railing Materials

The main consideration when building the railings on a deck is that they must be safe. Redwood and cedar make strong, attractive railings that will last long if they are properly cared for.

Some composite decking systems have their own railings made from a combination of vinyl and metal which can be used even if your deck is made of wood. You can also make safe railings with metal cable, steel pipes and even copper plumbing pipe.

2. Assembling and Protecting Your Deck

To put your deck together, you will need a variety of metal connectors, bolts and screws. These will include galvanized corner plates, post caps and joist hangers, with 1-inch screws or nails to fasten them.

You will also need bolts, lag screws and washers to connect the stairs and railings to the deck frame. Finally, be sure to have several pounds of 3-inch deck screws for attaching the decking and stair treads and for assembling wooden railings.

There is a wide selection of clear or pigmented sealers and stains available to protect wooden decks against sun and moisture, and many include a mildewcide to prevent mold.

Oil also provides an attractive, weather-resistant finish on most woods, especially Ipé. You can get maximum UV protection for wooden decking by using deck paint, or use a clear wood sealer for a minimalist approach that will preserve the natural look of the wood while sealing it against moisture.

D. Types of decks

Should you use pressure-treated, cedar, or exotic wood for your deck? Plastic or composite? Here are the pros and cons of the different options

Building a deck is one of the most rewarding home improvement projects going. What else can add hundreds of square feet of living space to your home for only a few thousand dollars? And any reasonably handy DIYer with a working knowledge of local code requirements can build their own. But whether you build it yourself or hire someone to do it the first decision you face is, what material do you want it made of?

1. Pressure-treated

Pressure Treated Wood Deck

Greenish hued pressure-treated (PT) lumber is one of the most commonly used materials for decks, fences, and other outdoor building projects. It’s popular for three reasons: It’s durable, it’s cheap, and it’s widely available.

In fact, homeowners looking to trim down the budget on a higher end deck will commonly use PT wood for the structural framing and cover it up with cedar or other decking and trim.

With long-standing consumer fears that arsenic could leach out of the old copper chromated arsenate (CCA) treatment, the PT industry has changed the formulation to ACQ and TK. The new mixtures are more corrosive to fasteners than CCA was so be sure you look for screws and bolts labeled “ACQ approved.”

2. Cedar

Cedar deck

Cedar’s popular because it’s attractive, easy to work with, and is naturally rot- and insect-resistant. Unfinished, over time cedar will turn a silvery grey colour and last about 10 years. You can double that, and retain its golden hue with regular applications of stain or waterproofing.

The main drawback is price as cedar costs roughly twice as much as PT.

3. Exotic wood

Exotic wood deck

There are a number of so-called “exotic” lumber species that are used on high-end deck projects, including ipe, mahogany, cambara, and Tiger Deck, the brand name for a Latin American relative of the cashew tree.

They’re all durable, with natural rot and pest-resistant characteristics but people choose them for that “one of a kind” look. The biggest downside is that exotic lumber can cost three times as much or more than PT wood.

4. Composite

Composite deck

Composites are made from a combination of wood fibres and recycled plastic. Trex is the most recognizable brand name, but there are several others on the market, including Brite, TimberTech, and CorrectDeck.

You cut and drill composites much like you would real wood, but they don’t have any of the knotholes or checking that comes with natural lumber. They’re available in a variety of colours (including matching railings) and come with warranties of up to 25 years.

On the downside, while the boards themselves are quite heavy, they can’t be used for load-bearing members. (As with cedar, PT framing is often used under composite cladding.)

Like exotics, composites are about three times the price of PT lumber, and may also require pricey fastening systems.

5. Plastic/PVC

PVC/Plastic deck

The deck boards and railings sold under brand names such as Eon, Perma-Deck, and Plasboard are made entirely of PVC (either new or recycled).

They have most of the same pros (variety of colours, matching railings, long warranties) and cons (high price) as composites. If you opt for non-wood decking, your choice really comes down to which product you prefer the looks and feel of.

E. 26+ Deck Ideas and Designs For Your Backyard, Balcony


1. Multilevel Deck with Graceful Curves

Multilevel Deck with Graceful Curves


2. Slide deck

Slide deck


3. Vacation home

Vacation home


4. Outdoor deck designs

Outdoor deck designs


5. Above ground pool

Above ground pool


6. Alfresco dining

Alfresco dining


7. Residential pavilions surrounded by sweeping canyon

Residential pavilions surrounded by sweeping canyon


8. Floating deck

Floating deck


9. Entryway deck

Entryway deck

10. Stepped-down structure shelters with canopy

Stepped-down structure shelters with canopy

11. Stone deck

Stone deck


12 deck design ideas

13. Font yard entry deck

Font yard entry deck


14. Deck with lawn edging

Deck with lawn edging

15. Beach view

Beach view

16. Deck with pergola

Deck with pergola

17. Led lighting deck

Led lighting deck

18. Cedar deck

Cedar deck


19. Stain deck with shade sail

Stain deck with shade sail


20. Backyard retreat

Backyard retreat


21. Cable Railing and Hardwood Decking

Cable Railing and Hardwood Decking


22. BBQ deck

BBQ deck


23. Caribbean Redwood Deck

Caribbean Redwood Deck


24. Elevated Ipe Deck

Elevated Ipe Deck


25. Relaxing deck

Relaxing deck


26. Large deck with pool

Large deck with pool


F. Decks and Decking – Free Plans Websites Guide

How to deck should not be a problem with the amount of deck plans available freely. This free sites guide covers the subject for your convenience.

A deck is very important for the design of your house as it can create either a rustic or exotic atmosphere, and make for a lovely space to spend time with friends and family in.

Building design plans bring to mind hefty bills, but this should not be the case for building a deck. There are a number of sites that offer already made plans for you, together with important details about materials and step-by-step instructions.

If you are searching for free building plans for decks then you are in the right place.

1. Deck Plans for Free

Deck plans should not be too complicated, and this is the case with the ones you will find on

Deck Plans, a site which offers detailed, printable architectural plans, material lists, average cost estimator and step-by-step instructions. Here you will find 6 different plan models (3 including pools) and also 2 guard rail models, and all of them are downloadable right away!

Real Cedar offers you a variety of models including raised cedar decks plans, roof decks, ground level decks, cedar decks for sloping lots, deck railing designs and also construction tips for stairs and railings. The site will give you great ideas and sketches, but no step-by-step guiding, which is why it is aimed for builders with some experience.

It is also possible to build a deck following the plan offered for free on Free Project Plans. This PDF plan is very detailed, but again it does not have many do it yourself hints.

2. “How-to” Decks

Decking is not easy for beginners, but free guides are available on the web for those who have already chosen their desired deck plan. My Carpentry is a good place to start, although it only provides a basic deck plan. On the other hand, explanations are thorough, and will greatly help you in all the phases of your project, from design to building the frame, setting the footings, laying the deck and finally adding the railing.

Those in need of guidance are also welcome to consult the booklet offered at Flipbook. It will take you from finding the right position for your decking all the way to railings and other details, in 15 clearly laid out and illustrated steps.

If wooden decking is your choice but you are having the most trouble installing deck beams, Move.com is out there to help you. The article they provide is abundant in explanatory sketches and step by step indications.

3. Build a Deck!

Armed with these free decking plans and free guides you are on the right track to bringing new joy to your backyard! But remember, it is safest to bring an experienced carpenter along, to get you started and maybe to check with your progress from time to time.