Previously we spoke about the questions you should ask yourself before you start building your deck and we shared different ideas on the use of your new deck, this week we’re sharing deck design tips and ideas.
What do you want your new deck to look like?

As with any project, the first step is to plan correctly and this involves drawing an elevation of the site, as well as a plan, if it is not a flat site. A good deck that will last you long begins with a good design and many people are reluctant to make design decisions because they don’t think of themselves as designers.

Design plans are important for several reasons; to enhance communication amongst everyone involved in the project and to assist in minimising the guessing and subjective assumptions as they may cause some confusion. Design plans serve as a common reference for the client, the designer and the builder. You may choose to hire a deck designer/builder or even an architect to design your deck but it is preferable that you be as involved as possible in the process in order to get the deck that is best for you.

That said, there are two things every designer needs; inspiration and a creative mind to turn vague ideas into concrete plans. A helpful tip would be to go on the internet as well as buy home decor magazines. They will serve as good start to finding some design ideas and inspiration. Feel free to steal some ideas from other people; when you see a deck that you like, take a few pictures and jot down some notes. Don’t hesitate to talk to the owners about their deck, they are likely to respond well whether they are bragging or just complaining. You will not only learn about pleasing designs, but you will avoid the mistakes they made.

Basic design elements
There are three elements to consider when designing your deck; size, shape and colour.

1. Size – The size of the deck must be determined in order to suit boundaries, changes of level, natural constraints such as trees or rocks and access to particular entrances to list but a few. A deck should not be so large that it makes the house look smaller than it actually is.

2. Shape – When deciding on the shape of your deck it is advised that you note the curves and angles of your house wall, it is a good idea to follow those lines as it will merge the deck and the house well. A decks shape has practical functions; a house with a complicated shape can be softened with a simple deck while a plain looking house can be fancied up with a boldly shaped deck.

3. Colour – In the past people used natural wood and would stain or let the wood turn grey over the years, nowadays many decks are made of composite material. These come in a variety of solid colours and there are enough available colours to complement or even match the colour of your house.

There are other items not always thought of but also need consideration;
· Is the deck in full sun or do you need some shade
· Will there be permanent shadow
· If the deck is to be used for viewing, is the height correct to get maximum advantage of the view – watch out for balustrades which block the view.

· If it is an elevated deck, is it safe for children – bear in mind the compliance required to meet building regulations
· Can you access services – drains, water supply etc, without having to strip the deck
· You can have too much wood – especially if it is all one level. Consider the impact of the deck against the building or site on which it is being planned.
· What happens under the deck – small gaps are prone to dogs and cats amongst other things with more than two legs doing things there!
· Will you need to clean under the deck – if it is built on a concrete slab you need to clean out any dirt build up from time to time.
· Make use of steep difficult areas by building the deck on multi levels to make use of unusable areas.