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How To Plan and Design a Deck

The first step in how to design a deck is deciding what kind of deck you’d like, and making a plan to build it. If you’re not sure what you’d like, you can find inspiration everywhere from checking out your neighbour’s deck to browsing the internet, social media, magazines or television. You can also find inspiration for your dream deck on Whether you’re building a simple one level deck or an intricate multi-level deck with railings, we’ll help you get ready to build and bring up some important points to consider during the planning process.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Before starting any building project check with your municipal office for local building codes, regulations and zoning restrictions.

  1. Step 1 Plan and Design Your Deck

    Person holding a deck plan drawing

    Planning your deck before starting gives you a chance to estimate your total materials and cost. Figure out what size you want, where you’d like to build it and what the completed deck should look like. Factor in things like time, labour and weather to minimize stoppages and delays. Proper planning at this stage will make the entire deck building process go smoothly with as little interruption as possible. If you’d like some more help with your deck plans or assistance with how to plan a deck, come visit us in-store to try our free digital deck designer.

  2. Step 2 Check Codes and Permits

    Building permit and a hammer

    Part of your planning process should be to check your local deck building codes to ensure that your deck is legal and safe. These codes dictate things like how high your railings can be and where you can place your footings among other things. Depending on the height of your deck, it can  even require a permit, and an an inspector may even need to come out to inspect the build and make sure everything is compliant.  Once you’ve planned your build and checked with all of your permits and codes, it’s time to select the materials you’ll use to build your deck.    

  3. Step 3 Choose Deck Board Materials

    Stacks of wood planks

    When choosing the wood you’ll use, consider the amount of traffic your deck will see, the style you’re going for and your local climate, as different materials have various benefits. One of the most common materials is pressure-treated wood. It’s less expensive than other types, is long lasting and has been infused with preservatives that make it rot-resistant. Cedar is a beautiful wood and is naturally mould and rot resistant, but is more expensive. Another alternative is composite decking, which while more expensive, never requires sealing, painting or finishing and doesn’t split, warp or crack. You’ll have to pre-drill all of your holes when installing it though, which makes for more work when installing. Once you’ve chosen your wood, your last planning step will be to choose your fasteners, hangers, screws and other materials to help complete your deck.

  4. Step 4 Choose Additional Deck Materials

    Deck materials

    You’ll need a variety of accessories and connectors to complete your deck. Joist hangers add some additional support above and beyond nails for attaching joists. Selecting the right deck screws is important as well as they come in different colours, styles and lengths. Post bases and post caps are a great aesthetic touch. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by choice, our in-store deck builder can help you make sure that you’ve got all the required parts and can even print off a detailed list, so you’re sure you’ve got everything you need.

Continue to build your deck: How to Install Deck Footings, Posts and Ledger

What You Need for This Project

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