Types of Decks for Homes

Putting a deck on your property can be the ideal finishing touch to your home, providing a great outdoor space to enjoy during good weather. If you live in a warm climate, a deck can be used year round.

For colder climates, an outdoor deck can be used up to three seasons out of the year, particularly if you have a firepit, outdoor heaters or other features to provide warmth. Depending on whether part or all of your deck is covered, you can even use your deck if it is raining.

There are as many types of decks as there are types of homes. Choosing the right style depends on what you will be using the deck for, the style of your property and your budget. In general, there are six main styles of deck to consider adding to your home. Before you begin hire a professional or begin building your deck yourself, take the time to compare the different options available.

Platform Decks

The platform deck is the most common style of deck available. It is also the easiest and least expensive to install. They are typically built on level lots attached to the house, either just above or on the ground.  In most cases they are built onto the rear of the house, but a platform deck can ultimately be constructed on any side. Because they are so low to the ground, many platform decks do not have railings, although this is always an option as well.

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If you choose not to install a railing, you can highlight the perimeter with planters or a border garden. You can also add other various features, such as curves and decorative edging to make a platform deck more visually appealing. Generally there is no roof over a platform deck, although some owners install a retractable awning over the area that attaches to their home.

Raised or Elevated Decks

Raised decks are popular because many homes are not built on an even plot or have their main living area on the ground level. These decks are built with elevations in order to make them easily accessible from the main floor. As a result, elevated decks require railings for safety. Additionally, they almost always have a flight of stairs that make the deck accessible from the yard or garden area as well.

When installing a raised or elevated deck, foundation posts are required in order to provide the necessary support. Some homeowners plant shrubs and install latticework or panels to conceal the posts. It is also common to create a storage area under the deck itself.

Multi-Level Deck

Multi-level decks are often used to tie together areas of the yard or garden that are at different elevations. They are a great way to integrate various areas of your yard that may otherwise be difficult to access because they are hilly, rocky or uneven. Think of a multi-level deck as two or more individual decks connected together by stairs or paths.

Many people with backyards that are hilly or rocky opt for a multi-level deck, because installing a concrete or brick patio would be too costly. Often, they install an awning or roof over the deck area attached to the house, but leave other areas uncovered so they can soak up the sun on nice days. Multilevel decks also allow you to provide two distinct areas when entertaining outdoors, such as a dining area and a lounging area.

Two-Story Multi-Level Deck

A variation of the multi-level deck is the two-story deck. The two-story deck provides outside access from the upper level as well as the lower level with steps connecting them both. These decks tend to be pricier than other styles because you have to install bracing and posts to support the weight of the upper level deck. With a two-story, you have a shaded area on the lower level with the option to shade the upper level or leave it open to the sunshine and elements.

Freestanding or Island Deck

These are sometimes referred to as detached decks and they are exactly what they sound like – decks that are not attached to a separate structure. If you have a house that does not provide a practical space to attach a deck, a freestanding or island deck may be the solution. Alternately, you may want an island deck if you have a beautiful garden away from the house or a large, shady area where you enjoy relaxing.

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Instead of attaching a freestanding deck to your home, you install supportive posts and footings in the ground. You can choose to add railings, but these are often not necessary since a freestanding deck is installed at ground level. Adding paver stones or a path that leads to the deck helps visually tie the structure to the house for a more integrated look.

Rooftop Deck

A rooftop deck can be installed on almost any flat surface, such as the roof of the house or garage. Before installing this type of deck, you need to check with a structural engineer or professional installer to make sure the building can support the additional weight of the deck, furnishings and any people who use it. There are several advantages to a rooftop deck, such as the following:

  • It does not take up any yard space.
  • You have better views.
  • There is more privacy.
  • You are utilizing otherwise wasted space.
  • You can enjoy breezes.

Styles of Deck

After you have chosen the type of deck you want, the next step is to explore the many styles available. Try to choose a style that works well with your home’s architectural style, so your deck fits seamlessly with your property. The following list provides examples of popular deck styles:

  • Modern: These decks have clean, uncluttered lines and often have unique features, such as metal and wire railings or plexiglass panels instead of railings. The overall style is sleek and minimalist, which gives your home a contemporary appeal.
  • Coastal: Coastal-style decking features a weathered, beachy look, or bright, soft colors that resemble a seaside boardwalk or coastal cottage. Coastal decks invite you to relax and unwind.
  • Traditional: Most traditional style patios feature decking that is stained or painted to compliment the home. They have traditional wood railings that often feature decorative caps on the posts for added appeal.
  • Rustic/Lodge: Rustic- or lodge-style decks highlight the natural beauty of the wood. Reminiscent of forest cabins, the rustic decks often incorporate simple, organic style and oversized posts and railings. Uncomplicated furniture and a woodsy, outdoor feel help complete the look.

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