Deck 3: Deck Design

I built a backyard wood deck about 22" off the ground, off the back of our house. I didn't want to install handrails so I decided to install seats around the perimeter instead. This article is more about how to design a backyard wood deck than the structure of the deck. The structure is the same regardless of the height of the deck off the ground. A backyard wood deck still requires footings, posts, beams, joists and decking material. You can refer to the first article, Deck 1: Raised Backyard Wood Deck on how to construct a backyard wood deck.

Backyard Wood Deck

Photo of a backyard wood deck showing benches along sides and storage area underneath.

According to the building code, backyard decks lower than 24" from the ground do not require handrails around the deck. We don't want our guests to step off backwards either, so I put in seats around the perimeter of the deck. We've had many people sitting around chatting on our backyard deck.

Design Change

Where the herb box sits, I originally intended to build a set of deck stairs go down to the lower front of the house. I changed my mind, so the planter box filled in the gap nicely, and is quite functional.

Detail of backyard wood deck showing planter on edge of deck and gate into storage area under deck.

Deck Stairs

The steps coming off the backyard deck are very simple in their construction. I designed a box using treated 2x6s, ripped to the correct height of the first riser, less the treads. I attached another box on top of this one to provide support for the second step.

Photo of stairs on a backyard wood deck.

Deck Benches

The seats on the backyard deck are supported with 2x4 frames every 16" apart with 5/4 x4 rounded edged cedar decking material. These boards are a full 1" in thickness and are the same ones used for the deck surface itself. The boards are spaced 1/4" apart to allow rain water to pass through. I used the same boards for the skirt to keep wild critters out from under the backyard deck, as well as giving an aesthetically pleasing finish to the underside of the deck.

Photo of backyard wood deck showing the supports of the bench around the edge of the deck.

Deck Design Idea

An advantage of designing a deck like this yourself is adding extra options you may want. I always need storage space for construction materials, so I incorporated storage and an access under the deck, as shown below and in the top photo, as well.

Photo of the open gate into the storage area under the backyard wood deck.

I hope this article shows that designing a deck for your own use is not that difficult. Look at magazines and websites for articles and photos for various ideas to incorporate into your own design.


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