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Outdoor Deck Designs, Types and Locations

Types of Decks to Build for Any Space on Your Property


You want to build a deck from wood or composite decking materials. Next comes a deck type or design, which will be determined by where the deck will be located in relation to your house.

If your lot is large, your biggest decision will be where to place the deck. If the property is smaller, the yard is on a slope or presents other challenges, you'll need to get creative. Consider locating a deck:

  • On a seldom- or unused driveway
  • Over a garage
  • In an unused side-yard area
  • Nestled against a hill or on a slope
  • In the front yard as an enclosed courtyard deck

Ready? Let's find a type of deck and the best place upon which to build it.

Attached Deck

southern pine co. pressure treated decking picture
Photo courtesy of Southern Pine Co.

An attached deck is much like a patio, except that it is made of wood or wood composite decking materials, and is slightly raised. A common place to attach a deck is at the back of an L-shaped or U-shaped house.

Visualize it: a deck can serve as a bridge connecting exterior doors of both inside parts of the L-shaped house. The deck also provides additional living space -- outdoor living space. A roof or overhead would offer shade, making the deck even more usable and part of the home's liveable space.

Click photo for larger view

Detached or Island Deck

picture of detached deck
Photo courtesy of Kim Katwijk/artistryindecks

The opposite of an attached deck, a detached deck can be positioned anywhere on a property, but still should be easily accessible via a pathway or steps. It stands alone, like an island. Unlike a concrete patio, which has to be set on a smooth, even surface, a detached deck is much more adaptable and forgiving of areas with poor drainage or bumpy, rocky or uneven terrain because it can be built above whatever is going on below.

Peninsula-style deck is also a type of detached deck -- it connects a house, patio or other deck area to a detached deck via a wood or composite decking walkway.

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Wraparound Deck

picture of wraparound deck
Photo © Patricia McCarthy

Kind of like an old-fashioned wraparound porch, only parts of it can be larger, more uneven, and room-like than a porch. Wraparound decks are slightly elevated. In Japan, they are called an engawa.

Wraparound decks:

  • Let you follow the sun or shade -- whichever you desire
  • Extend the living space of your house
  • Assist with air circulation throughout the house when access doors are open

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Multilevel Deck

multilevel wood deck mississippi
Photo © Patricia McCarthy

A multilevel deck is the answer for a large property, or one that changes in elevation. Multilevels are a series of decks on different levels, often connected by steps or pathways.

The terrain often dictates the need for a multilevel deck: hills, slopes and rocky landscaping may not be able to accommodate anything other than a raised wooden deck. In other words: It would be lots of work and expense to pour a concrete patio when you could just build a deck over a slop or rocky area of your yard. Makes sense, right?

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Side-Yard Deck

side yard deck picture with bamboo
Photo © Lisa Hallett Taylor

Side yards are often the forgotten space or embarrassment of the yard. If you aren't using the space for a dog run and only use it as a pathway from the front yard to the back, why not stake a claim and turn that area into usable space?

A private deck for lounging, or decking coming off a dining room, kitchen or bedroom into the side yard uses the space efficiently. It can also provide a secluded, peaceful getaway without leaving home. How about a small deck with a hot tub right outside your exterior bedroom door? Add a privacy screen, container plants, music...get the picture?

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Pool or Spa Deck

pool deck picture
Photo courtesy of APSP.org

Decking is a smart choice around a pool, because it's slip resistant and won't scorch swimmers' feet, like stone or concrete can. The warmth of wood decking makes it a natural surround for a koi pond or pool. Since real wood can split and splinter, it will need to be maintained with a deck finishing product regularly so that swimmers don't get splinters in their feet.

Wood or composite decking is one of the simplest ways to make an above-ground pool more easily accessible. A deck surround also brings more space for swimmers who want to lounge by the pool at pool level, and makes it possible for adults to keep a poolside watch on swimming children.

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Entryway Deck

platform-style decks for entryway
Photo courtesy of Kim Katwijk/artistryindecks

An entryway deck is like a front porch, but not completely covered overhead. The decking composite or wood steps and platforms are part of the total architectural design, sometimes with built-in benches or planter boxes.

Materials, shape and design complement the architecture of the house, making deck and home look like they were built at the same time, by the same builder, and not as an awkward, added-on afterthought.

Wood entryway decks can be as simple as a few connected platforms leading up to the front door (pictured), to a front courtyard deck area that is basically an outdoor room one enters before stepping foot inside the actual house.

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Outdoor Dining Deck

picture of brasilia composite decking by trex
Photo courtesy of Trex

An extension of the kitchen or dining room, the dining deck might include a grill, counter, bar, food-prep space and an outdoor dining table. This type of deck can be as simple or elaborate as your budget, space, and imagination allows.

Even if you plan on building a completely equipped outdoor kitchen, it's still a smart idea to locate it near your indoor kitchen. When planning an outdoor dining or kitchen deck, consider:

  • For safety reasons, where to locate the grill in relation to the house and roof (city codes usually specify).
  • A sink for easy cleanup.
  • Where the outdoor dining set will be located.
  • If you do lots of entertaining, do you have room for buffet tables or additional dining tables and seating?

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Rooftop or Garage Deck

woman lounging on rooftop deck
Digital Vision/Getty Images

A rooftop deck or a deck on top of your garage is a great idea, but don't rush into this project until you have some structural/engineering matters tested first. This type of deck is perfect for a flat roof. A rooftop deck:

  • Can provide better views than ground-level decks.
  • Offers more privacy.
  • Picks up breezes.
  • Is often a solution for an urban dwelling.

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