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8 Small Deck Design Solutions

Deck BenchesCreating comfortable, alluring outdoor living spaces remains a high priority for homeowners, and nothing beats the privacy of quiet backyard retreat. Building a deck is one of the most cost-effective ways to add outdoor living space to a home, increasing the property value by as much as 80 percent of the project cost.

Unfortunately, as average home sizes have burgeoned over the past few decades, lot sizes have shrunk, leaving many homeowners with tiny backyards and little space for outdoor construction projects. However, a small backyard doesn’t mean building a cedar or PVC deck is out of the question. By getting creative with your deck design, you can still transform your backyard into a pleasant oasis.

Here are eight tips for creating a small deck design your family can enjoy:

1. Build your deck six inches off the ground. Adding a slight change in elevation to your backyard will break up the area and make it appear larger than it really is. Plus, a deck that’s only six inches off the ground doesn’t require safety railings, so you can leave off the handrails to give your deck design a more spacious feel.

2. Connect your deck to the rest of the yard. If your deck design leaves a little yard space leftover, add a pergola or arbor to create a small nook with a few chairs and a small table. Connect the nook to your deck with a stepping-stone path to expand the space available for entertaining.

3. Double your space with a second-story deck. If you can make it work with your home’s architecture, consider installing a second-story deck with an underdeck to take advantage of your yard’s vertical space. An underdeck protects the space beneath your deck from the elements, giving you a functional covered patio on the ground floor, plus a deck off the bonus room or master bedroom – effectively doubling your outdoor living space.

4. Use built-in deck benches to maximize seating. Too many patio chairs can make your deck feel crowded, while too few can leave your guests with standing room only. Built-in benches around the perimeter of your deck alleviate this problem by efficiently using the space available to maximize seating while minimizing clutter.

5. Make your deck the focal point. There’s no getting around the fact that your deck is going to take up the majority of your small backyard. Instead of fighting that fact, embrace it by using mindful landscaping to make your deck the centerpiece of your property. Rather than planting shrubs or flower beds around the perimeter of your yard, plant them around the perimeter of your deck. This will draw the eye to your deck design and keep your deck from feeling like a floating island.

6. Upgrade to cable handrails. If you can’t get around the need for handrails on your deck, choose stainless steel cable rails or aluminum deck rails instead of the commonly used rails made out of standard decking material. Cable handrails are virtually invisible and blend easily into the landscape, giving your deck a more sophisticated, spacious feel.

7. Choose a more expensive decking material. One of the advantages of building a small deck is that it requires less decking material than a larger structure. By saving money on quantity, you may be able to find room in your budget to splurge on a quality upgrade, such as PVC decking. PVC decking offers a streamlined appearance and requires minimal maintenance, so you can spend more time enjoying your outdoor living space. It also comes in a variety of colors – select a lighter color to make the space feel larger.

8. Keep your deck design simple. One of the benefits of composite and PVC decking is they allow for a variety of different deck patterns to create a unique look. When building a small deck, however, resist the urge toward elaborate patterns and stick with one color.

Fitting a deck into a small backyard can be challenging, but by applying these simple deck design solutions, you can maximize your outdoor living space and create a pleasant place for grilling, entertaining and soaking up some sun.

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