Deck Design

There are standard construction principals as far as timber sizes and fixings. However decks offer great outdoor areas that are an extension of the living areas of the home. When designing your deck the first section to be considered is the purpose. What do I need or want from the deck? What will I use the deck for? What size do I need?

Your design

Your design should clearly reflect the activities and purpose of the deck area. Is the deck for more play room or a breakfast area, BBQ area, or to extend your dining area? Consider the level of the deck in relationship to your home. Would you like to step down onto the deck from your door or would you like the deck level with the floor of your home? The deck connection with your home is important and will create a flow or a separation with your home. Will the deck be connected or totally independent of the house structure?


What type of stairs would you like? The type of stairs creates a feel openness or limited access. Some decks have wide full width stairs to access the deck from any point, while others use a set of stairs at one end and balustrade to create a closed and defined space.

Materials – Timber Selection:

The construction materials influence the way a deck looks and thus you must decide what type timber you wish use. The cheapest construction materials are treated pine decking boards and can be stained in the colour of your choice. While treated pine is cheaper it does not generally last as long unless it is coated regularly. Also treated pine will not look as good as a hardwood deck. Hardwood decks look the best are stronger and will last longer than a treated pine deck. Hardwood decking boards do cost more but are much more durable. There are a number or beautiful timbers to use and your local hardware or timber supplies should be able to provide you with a good selection of different timbers and grades of decking. Quality hardwoods offer the best protection and durability, and also have many beautiful colours. Some hardwoods will need to be ordered in and can be order in mixed colours such as reds, browns, and red-pinks.

Deck design

  • Is your deck connected to your home or is it freestanding?
  • Is it a high or low (under 1 metre) deck?
  • Will your deck have a roof (pergola or awning) over it or will it be exposed without a roof?
  • How large an area is your deck going to be?
  • What type of timber are you using?

The next important thing to do when these questions have been answered is to go to your local council and ask what the local building guidelines and rules are when constructing a deck. For example a small deck may not need council approval only large decks. However some other council’s may require all decks to be subject to approval. It is very important to work these issues through before you start or you may have to pull the whole deck down. Please note that all decks must be constructed to the current building regulations or standards whether they do or do not need council approval.


When building your deck long term durability and safety are very important. Every year people get injured when decks fail because they are under engineered for the amount of people on them or incorrect construction techniques have been used. Decks are often fully loaded when parties and family events take place. Thus it is important to make sure your deck is designed and constructed properly. The best practise of building decks is to have it over engineered or stronger than the minimum requirement.


Balustrade simply put, is a railing that stops people falling off the edge of your deck. If you have a low deck of 600mm or less you are generally not required by law to have balustrade (however check this with your local council). If a balustrade is required consider the type you would like before you start.

Planning your deck and checking the current building regulations with your local council will help you greatly in the final construction and look of your deck. Also your local decking supplier should be able to help you in your timber selection and supply of you fixings that are needed for construction.