DIY: How to Design a Deck

At Hickory Dickory Decks, we assist our customers with their deck design by asking our customers questions and showing them many pictures, and then putting their ideas on paper.

This process has four components:


The first component in deck design is the layout of your home and property. Here are some points to consider:

  • How high above the grade is your doorsill? Most decks 2 feet above grade will require a railing-check with your city or town building department.
  • Check with your city or town regarding backyard and side yard setbacks.
  • Where are your property lines? Do you have an up-to-date survey?
  • What existing obstacles in your backyard do we have to work with? i.e. landscape trees, pool, sheds, etc.
  • Are you trying to get a view, keep a view?
  • Do you need privacy from any neighbours?
  • Items to look for: basement windows, air conditioner, water, bay windows, hydro, gas.
  • Do you need shade?
  • Where are the sun patterns during morning, afternoon and evening?
  • Where do the wind patterns come from and in what season of the year?


The second component to be considered in your design is how the deck will be used. We'll talk with you to design a deck around how you would use your deck. Ten different families living in the same house will have different uses in mind and will require a different design. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How many people live in the home?
  • What size of groups will be using the deck on a fairly regular basis?
  • These two questions will help to determine the appropriate size. Each person needs approximately 25 sq.ft. minimum.
  • How long have you lived in this home? (to get a feeling of how well they know the property)
  • How long do you intend to live in this home? (we want to build a deck that will last longer than what you will need. The average deck in North America lasts 8.7 years)
  • How much use will your deck be getting; minimal, moderate or daily use?
  • How will you be using your deck; entertaining, quiet reading area, BBQing, eating, relaxing, lying in the sun, parties, spa area, children playing?
  • What type of furniture will be on the deck and where; table and 4 or 6 chairs, BBQ, loungers, spas, other chairs or benches, hammocks, children's toys, any other furniture?


The third component is price. It is important to know what budget to work within. We try to design a deck to fit your family's budget. In some situations we may recommend waiting a year or two until more dollars can be saved, and thereby doing the project right the first time. We don't like to design or build a deck that won't satisfy the needs of the family or won't last for the duration required.

Stainless steel hardware, concrete footings, clear BC cedar and some low maintenance deck materials are examples of spending a little more now that could save thousands later.

Personal Preference

The last component of design is personal preferences. Many deck options are neither right or wrong, but simply a matter of preference. By looking at many pictures of decks and stealing ideas from different projects, we can create your own custom-designed outdoor living area based on your needs.

Some nice options to consider are:

  • Planters
  • Railings
  • Privacy screens
  • Large steps
  • Shaded areas
  • Built in lighting
  • Angles to match house design
  • Working with existing landscaping
  • Low maintenance products
  • Deck skirting
  • Built in BBQ or bar area
  • Built in spa
  • Fire pit
  • Gazeboes attached for shade or bug-free areas

Enjoy Life...Outdoors!


Stay Informed! Sign up to the Hickory Dickory Decks Newsletter