Your Back Deck

“It’s Okay to Have a Little Fun with the Deck”

The poor deck is one of the first to get watered down when the budget gets too high! In my world, the back deck is as important as any room in the apartment. Either take advantage of views or make your own. I love to work on buildings that have lots of back land to work with. My architectural office is in an old movie theatre where the back 2/3rds burned down. It makes it easy to recreate your own view with a courtyard. It is amazing how a nice path to your office door sets you up for a wonderful day of work! The back deck is a huge part of the downtown nature experience.

Let’s get the function of a deck out of the way so we can then talk about design. I have designed many 10’ deep decks. 8’ deep is not recommended. It doesn’t quite give you the area needed if you like a table to gather around. A 12’ deep deck is slightly better than a 10’. In my opinion, a 14’ deep is not a great solution. If you must go big, go bigger than 14’ as it is too big for some things, yet not quite large enough for other functions. Your guardrail needs to be 42” high. We have another article in which we discuss guardrails and handrail requirements. I highly recommend a 48” wide staircase. This wide staircase is nice to walk up, but most importantly, it’s easier to carry items up!

Now, with the boring bits out of the way, we can move on to the fun design recommendations. Use at least 6×6 posts. The meatier feel and look provides grounding, balance, and confidence. Spindly 4x4s look insufficient to hold that big deck, making it look unfinished. The larger columns can also be used to create additional design elements like the trellis over the deck. They tie together nicely and create a layering effect that accentuates the vertical height of the space. The example pictures show a simple railing that doesn’t compete with the larger elements; however, it’s okay to work with fine detailing on the railing when you make big bold moves on the columns, etc. Notice the wide staircase, which is also a bold element, keeping the concept intact.