The decision to build a deck is a big one and the options can be overwhelming. Here are a few basic considerations that sometimes get overlooked in the design process.

What do I want from my deck?

It’s the obvious question and the best place to start. If you’re going to be entertaining large groups of people the design will be different than for a more family oriented space. Is privacy a concern? Often it is if there’s a pool in the yard, or if the deck is going to be used as a study nook. If not, a more open concept can make your whole yard look larger and more welcoming.

How large should my deck be?

We recommend a handy rule of thumb to get an appropriate size.  Budget 40 square feet for each person likely to be on the deck at the same time. Say, for example, a family of four anticipates having dinners on their new deck. 160 square feet or about 12 feet by 14 feet would be a good size to consider.

The rule allots a 5 foot by 8 foot area  for each person: plenty for a chair and some breathing room. Keep in mind the deck won’t be “full” all the time. But when it is there will be no danger of stuffiness or overcrowding if the guideline is followed.

And of course it’s just a guideline. Budget is often trump for size decisions. If you can afford more than the recommended footage so much the better. Conversely, if the number for your project comes in a little high, look to trim the budget elsewhere (e.g. extras and features, material choices) before reducing the size to less than 40 square feet per person.

Is privacy an issue?

There are different types of privacy. Most people think of visual privacy when the subject comes up: fences, hedges, or privacy screening built right into the deck are often a ready solution. But there are other considerations as well. What about sound?

The coveted sound of silence may be impossible to achieve but some thought  and care with your landscaping can go a long way. Architects have long known that layers of bushes and evergreens, particularly when they’re planted perpendicular to a noise source, can mitigate the noise pollution typical of urban environments. Take a page from their book and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the peace it can buy you.

Security is also a factor for your privacy. If you don’t want folks wandering through your yard a fence is a natural complement to your deck. If you’re planning for a pool it’s the law. Again here, some thoughtful landscaping can blend your fences and/or barriers into the environment and take away visually harsh lines while keeping your yard secure.

Some thoughts about climate:

In Canada, if your deck faces north it will be in the shade for most of the day. This can be a little cool and unwelcoming. If possible we suggest a southwest orientation to get as much of the late afternoon sun as possible.

Wind is often an overlooked factor. It’s a good idea to do an informal survey of it in your backyard (e.g. wet your finger and hold it up in your yard a few days in a row) . If there appears to be a pattern you can work with it, adding privacy screens and filters to your design to keep your deck both cool and calm. Your Fence-All expert can be a great help here.

A word about rain: a properly built deck is slightly tilted away from the house so that water runs off. It’s also a good idea to build the deck at least an inch or two below the adjoining room in the house. That way you never have to worry about flooding, even during the most torrential downpours.

How can I get an estimate for my deck project?

We recommend booking an appointment online. It’s free, it’s easy, and there’s no obligation. Just go to and hit the red BOOK YOUR FREE ESTIMATE button on any page. You’ll be able to pick a time and date that’s convenient for you. If you’d like you can also tell us a little about your project so that when your Fence-All rep shows up he or she will have a head start on getting you the best price possible.

Old-school works too: phone 613 736-1122 or email and we’ll be happy to set you up.