Skip to main content for Pros: Building a Deck

Increase any home’s living space by adding a deck.

Amanda Scott
Amanda Scott
Sunny wood deck, table and chairs, plants.

When you build a deck on the back of the home, it becomes a true extension of the house's living space. From expansive multi-level decks that guide you from the back of the house to the edge of the property to small rooftop decks designed to offer an intimate hangout - there's a deck design to suit every home and family.

Types of Deck Designs

Long narrow deck with a pool. Raised deck with wire rail enclosure.
Find the right deck option for your home.

Decks are generally crafted of wood or a composite wood material, but the design of the deck can vary greatly. Understanding the different types of deck and how to build a deck will help determine the right option for any house. The most popular types of decks to choose from include:

• Attached Decks: Generally, a home is built with one step down out of the back door. When you learn how to build a deck on the ground, you can provide a seamless extension of space that can be used as an outdoor sitting area or dining room. These decks are attached right to the back of the house.

• Rooftop Decks: Sometimes, you have to go up and out to get that extra space. Decks can be built directly over a garage or rooftop to create an intimate space to enjoy a morning cup of coffee or take in the beauty of the property.

• Raised or Multi-Level Decks: When the property features a hill or dramatic slope, a raised deck will help to provide a level living area. Learning how to build a raised deck is all about making sure you provide a sturdy foundation and ensuring to find the level line before laying all the support joists. Some raised decks travel down the property line in tiers, showcasing a few steps from one landing to the next. These landings can even serve different purposes. Use one for a little bistro set and another for an inviting dining area.

Decking Material Options Available

Light wood deck, outdoor sofa and coffee table. Dark stained deck.
Decks can be built from differing wood species, vinyl, and other materials.

One of the most important decisions in building a deck is choosing the proper decking material. When it comes to the overall cost to build a deck, the material selected greatly impacts the total price. The size and design of the deck also play a factor. The four main options include:

• Cedar: Cedar has been long revered as one of the go-to woods for use outdoors because of its natural resistance to both pests and the elements. Unfortunately, it is one of the more expensive deck material options, as well. 

• Vinyl Decking: When you want a deck that's both cost-effective and incredibly low maintenance, vinyl decking is a great solution. This material also referred to as polyvinyl chloride or PVC, comes in a wide variety of color options, making it easy to match the product to any home exterior. It also eliminates the finishing process, lowering the amount of time it takes to build a deck.

• Composite: Composite decking is a man-made material crafted of recycled bottles. The manufacturing process includes the same dye the whole way through the material, meaning that the material never needs to be refinished because it is the same tone throughout. It is also an environmentally friendly decking material.

• Pressure-Treated Wood: When building a deck on a budget, using pressure-treated wood is a great option. These panels offer a special coating that makes them more resistant to the elements. They provide the added benefit of being able to stain or paint virtually any color.

Maintaining the Deck

Deck with stain and seal. Deck being pressure-washed.
Regular maintenance like staining, sealing, and cleaning is necessary to keep your deck looking its best.

After you build a deck, there is some general maintenance needed to keep it looking like new. Some materials require less maintenance than others, and those cost savings should factor into the overall cost to build a deck when budgeting. With all decks, an annual pressure-washing will help to remove caked-on dirt, algae, and stains. If the deck is constructed of wood that is painted or stained, an occasional sanding and refinishing will update the look of the deck. If the deck is crafted of cedar or redwood, a sealer will need to be reapplied on occasion.

Clipboard with check mark, wood grain icon and safety badge icon.

Once you've determined the type of deck being built, the material of the deck, and where it will be in relation to the home, it's time to come up with a design. Decks can be very traditional and simple in design, or they can be a modern focal point of the property. No matter what style of deck is chosen, it's imperative to make sure the proper safety measures are in place. Make sure to check the regional railing requirements for a deck prior to completing the construction. There may be HOA regulations about the finish color and location options for the deck, as well.

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