Building a wooden deck in the garden 101: design options, extensions, and craftsmanship

Yard Deck

How do you turn your garden into a complete oasis?

Install a well-designed back deck or patio with appropriate shade-making structures of course! You’ll probably want to hire a professional carpenter to get the job done right too.

You should consider adding a deck to your property for two great reasons:

  1. A deck can increase the home’s livable space by hundreds of square feet.
  2. Homeowners can recoup 65%-90% of their investment when they add a deck to their property.

What do you have to lose?

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You may plan to build a ground level deck, or attach a deck to your house. No matter what project you choose, you need to know if your contractor is doing a good job on the project or not.

In this article, you’ll learn about some key wooden deck/patio craftsmanship tips to look out for when a skilled professional installs your deck. We’ll also share deck design options, and great shade-making deck extensions (pergolas and gazebos, etc.) to help you create the outdoor living space of your dreams.

Dream deck

Take advantage of a deck to help you enjoy your surroundings.

Deck craftsmanship 101: Hire a pro and learn to how to tell excellent craftsmanship from poor craftsmanship.

All homeowners can agree: it’s easy to hire a professional, but it’s difficult to know when they have done a great technical job. After all, most homeowners hire experts for a reason!

We interviewed a top carpentry team in our directory, Scully Custom Carpentry, about deck-building. They gave TrustedPros some exclusive, easy to understand tips on deck building. Scully’s advice will help you tell whether or not your contractor is building a quality deck that can brave out the Canadian seasons. Look out for the following while a carpentry team works on your deck project:

  1. If your deck is connected to the home, it must first be connected to a ledger board. Scully Custom Carpentry recommends for homeowners to examine how the ledger board is fastened to the home during the deck installation. Their team says, "to ensure a lasting, secure connection with the house, the ledger board must be fastened to the home with lag screws, and not nails".

lag screw

Lag screws.

  1. If you choose to add a railing to your deck, confirm with your contractor that all railing posts were attached with carriage bolts (ideally), and not nails.

carriage bolt

Carriage bolt.

Want to learn more about the fasteners that are used in deck construction? Click here!

  1. Ask your contractor about how they fastened the deck’s joist hangers. They should tell you that all of the joist hangers were nailed in place. This will prevent joist hangers from becoming loose over time.

Floor Joit

Laying boards across floor joists.

  1. Remain on guard when the contractor is laying the deck posts. Deck posts should not rest directly on the ground as they can become wet and weaken over time. Every post should be supported by a concrete footing that is a few inches above the ground. This will keep each post strong and dry over time.
  2. Deck posts should be placed directly under support beams to support the whole structure.

Looking to do some small deck renovations? We’ve got 10 tips about that too. Click here to read them.


When you decide to hire somebody for a deck installation you should choose a contractor who has excellent customer reviews, and a high TrustScore rating.

Find the best local contractor for your deck installation project today! Click here now!

You must speak to a few contractors before you settle on one professional. Ask each individual to quote your specific project. Ultimately, you should aim for a contractor whom you are comfortable with, and who gives you a great price for your project.


Try posting your project for FREE and receive quotes from multiple contractors! Try it now!

Remember, deck quotes vary on a number of factors such as:

  1. Your location
  2. The material of choice
  3. The size of the project
  4. The complexity of the project
  5. Where the deck will be built on your property (on rock, a hill, topsoil, etc.)

For a case example of deck pricing, you can visit this thread in our Ask the Pros Forum. The pros in our forum estimated that a specific deck project (16ft X 12ft pressure treated wood deck about 6ft high, including stairs) may cost approximately $18.75-$26.00 per foot.

This price is a very generalized cost estimate for a specific type of deck project. It may not reflect the price of your deck project quote.

Do you have a question about your decking project? Ask our professional community about it here.

Design Options

Did you know that your deck installation project may require a building permit? Contact your municipality about deck building regulations and bylaws before you set your heart on a deck design.

Decks can help you add hundreds of liveable feet to your home in hundreds of different ways! Prioritize your needs before you settle on a deck design. This will help you create the best living space for your friends and family. No matter what, there is always room for creativity. Consider the following:

Levels or zones

Levels and zones help you create different types of gathering areas in your outdoor space. Increase privacy by installing zone dividers, or encourage diverse activities by devoting sections of your deck to them. For example, create a fire pit area with seating on one level, and leave another level empty for mingling, hosting, or playing.

fire pit

Fire pits are a lovely place to gather all year round. Consider placing a fire pit on one level of a multi-level deck.

Open concept

Open concept decks are great for families who require a flexible outdoor living space. This design can encourage guests to mingle, allow you to move furniture around freely, or provide a safe space for the kids to play.

Open space

Lowered/pit or step seating

Pit and step seating is a creative way to integrate comfort and design into your outdoor living space. A pit seating area can create a comfy lounge for friends and family to gather. You can also opt to build up one side of your deck. Building larger box steps to create a bleacher will create an interesting seating arrangement, and help folks get a great view of your property.

pit seating

Get cozy in a pit seating arrangement!

Built-in/bench seating

Consider placing built-in seating in your outdoor living space. Built-in seats can create seamless continuity within the space. This approach can help you maintain an open concept deck, and de-clutter the space by removing free-standing seating. Bench seating is another great idea for folks who intend on having lots of guests but don’t have a lot of outdoor seating room available.


Open up the deck space with built-in seating.

Seating enclosures

The spring and summer can get buggy! Those who like the best of both worlds (being indoors and outdoors), should consider creating an enclosed space on the deck to provide sun and bug protection. Simply request your contractor to build a netted-in space with a working door to accommodate your needs.

Space for trees or a garden

The beauty of a having garden is the trees, flowers, and plants. You need not remove your garden in order to install a deck. If you’re lucky enough to have a mature tree in your back yard you may be able to build your deck around it! Trees can provide beautiful natural shade for your outdoor living space. Just make sure to leave room for tree growth!


You can leave open spaces in your deck for flower and plant beds too. This approach will help you merge nature into the constructed space.


Deck railings may be a mandatory according to certain city building standards. Check with your municipality before you begin your deck project. These rules are usually based on platform and stairs height. Deck railings need not take beauty away from your deck. Railings provide an excellent opportunity for planter boxes, and these can bring beautiful colour and fragrance to your outdoor living space.


Attached to the home

Most homeowners enjoy an outdoor living space that easily transitions into their indoor living space. That’s why the home deck extension is so popular. Choose the most used exit and extend the deck from there if your home has multiple entrances and exits. For example, attaching a deck to the backyard door can reduce time and energy moving between the kitchen and the barbecue. Some folks prefer to keep their deck attached to the master bedroom instead.

home deck

Turn your deck into an extension of the home. Attach it to the most frequently used entrance/exit.

Landing pad in the garden

Choosing a landing pad deck is a bit unconventional. But, it’s a great option for families who spend time in the garden, and away from the home. Landing pads are great for large properties, or backyards with limited access to the sun. Some folks who live in bungalows opt for a landing pad deck when their backdoor exits onto ground level.

landing pad

Ground-level pads are great options for homeowners who want a wooden deck away from the home. This space features a covered pergola.

Special Additions

Did you know that you can improve your existing deck by adding onto it? Shade-making garden structures can add beauty and comfort to your backyard.

Before jumping into an addition project consider the size of the yard, and the appearance of the home. Yard size and home style affect project flexibility. Consider the following projects:


A pergola is a type of open-roof structure (you can opt for more or less coverage) that helps cast shade and adds some rain protection to your backyard. Pergolas create an open, airy atmosphere.


This pergola is used to cover a walkway. As you can see, grape vines have made their home above and have created wonderful shade below.

You can attach a pergola on your deck, or place it in the garden. They can make your deck look beautiful, which may add value to your property. People often drape netting or curtains on pergola posts for shade and bug protection. Pergolas can house climbing plants such as rose bushes or ivy. Climbing plants will provide excellent shade, and bring life to your deck and backyard in a unique way.

Be sure to plan for maintenance costs before you chose to build a pergola. You should re-stain or re-paint the pergola every two years to maintain wood longevity.


Gazebos are sturdy outdoor structures that provide solid roof protection from sun and rain. They are characteristically built without full walls, which creates an open and breezy living space. You can install electrical outlets, lighting, and a ceiling fan to further maximize gazebo use during the hot summer nights.


A gazebo can be a wonderful addition to a large backyard. They provide shade and shelter.

Gazebos can be free-standing structures in the backyard, or they can be made into a deck addition. They tend to be a costly option--but this depends on the quality and size of the project. Be sure to plan for maintenance costs before you chose to build a gazebo. You should re-stain or re-paint the gazebo every two years to maintain wood longevity.

Roof extensions

Roof extension projects may be the costliest backyard living space project on our list. The project involves extending the roof of your home outwards to cover the patio. This is a great option for those who are looking for a well-protected outdoor living space. A full roof above the patio provides excellent sun and rain protection. You may also opt for full or half walls around the outside of the patio. This will enclose the space and flawlessly connect it to your home. Full, half, and quarter walls provide great wind protection too.

roof ext.

A roof extension creates a semi-enclosed this space. This provides extra shelter and stability for the patio section of the home.

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Posted by: Nicole Silver
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