Tips for designing your deck.
Creating a connection between your interior and exterior living area is vital for functionality and flow. This connection can help to maximize the light, space, breezes, and views; significantly expanding and improving your home living and entertaining environment.
Giving consideration to the function of your deck, for example, an outdoor dining area, living area, or combination, is important when deciding on the size it should be. As an example, this guide shows the minimum measurements we would recommend for an outdoor dining area:
- Furnishing: 7 piece outdoor table – allowing for chairs to be pulled out
- Width: 3 - 3.5m
- Length: Allow for 1m circulation space at either end of the table
You would also need to consider additional furnishings (e.g. lounge seating, BBQ or outdoor oven, heaters etc), when measuring up your deck area. If you are constrained with your space, it may help to plan your furnishings, including space saving items, prior to construction.
Please note: This is a guide only. It is recommended that if you have specific furnishings in mind that you measure them prior to building.
This may not be something you would initially think is important at the design stage of your deck, however prior planning prevents any issues further down the track and can greatly influence the life of your deck, as well as your enjoyment of it.
If your deck is likely to be weather exposed, it is vital that you choose materials that will be durable and low maintenance, respective to your local environment; this includes building materials as well as coatings and finishes.
Decks that are higher than 1m off the ground require balustrading in accordance with the requirements of your local council. You will need to check the building regulations for what’s required in your area.
Balustrading options vary quite significantly in cost, level of transparency and material. Safety should be paramount when considering these options. For example, if your deck is built off an upper floor, consideration needs to be given to the material to ensure that if it was to give way or break - there would still be sufficient fixings to prevent a possible fall.
The function of your top rail is also an important choice, as this will influence the type of finish. For example, do you want to be able to use this as a functional ledge to put a glass or cup on?
The positioning of your deck in relation to neighbours and street traffic will influence its design, depending on the level of privacy you would like. All angles of sight need to be considered, including from above. As most decks will be used as a sitting area of some sort, be it dining or lounging, the lines of sight need to be considered from a seated point of view on the deck.
There are many ways to achieve privacy, including balastrading, strategically placed roof, screen or landscaping (depending on the height of your deck). Furnishings and potted plants can also be a helpful (and portable) option.
Be mindful not to impede too much of your view when creating privacy, as you don’t want to limit the benefits of being outdoors by closing in the space.
Options to provide shade and shelter to your deck are extensive. They can vary from flexible - providing shade only in the sunnier summer months, to more permanent solutions such as roofing options to provide year round protection. When designing your deck, you will need to consider how much protection from glare, heat and general weather you require; this will inform your decision on the type of shade and / or shelter you need.
If you are looking for a lighter, economical option you may consider shade cloth or go green with a choice of a vine or creeper plant you can train over a frame. However, depending on where you live, these options could limit the use of your deck to a seasonal space.
A more permanent shelter can increase the function of your deck, creating an area for year round use. Having a permanent, weather proof shelter can also broaden your options of furnishings and outdoor appliances.
To maximise the use of your deck year round, it is worth considering fixed as well as portable options to moderate your outdoor deck environment throughout each season. Examples of fixed options would be a ceiling fan for hot summer days or a fireplace, external heater or pizza oven as a heat source for winter.
Cooking facilities can be an excellent addition to your outdoor living area, extending the functionally of your deck. This could be a portable BBQ, a fixed cooktop, pizza oven or a complete outdoor kitchen. With any of these options it is important to consider the addition of a food preparation area into your deck design, or position your deck with easy access to your indoor kitchen.