Deck plans - All you need to know

If you have never built a deck before or if you are considering building a larger, more elaborate deck then you should know that the job will not be an easy one. Of course with the right deck plans the job will be considerably easier, but it also requires a good deal of planning and organization. The good news is that the right set of plans can help everything come together beautifully. The not so good news is that all plans are not created equally.

The first thing most new builders do is go online and look for free deck plans, which is a good idea. You may not want to use those plans but they will give you an idea just how many plans are available and how many styles for decks you can choose from. You will be tempted to use these plans because, well they are free. But you want to make sure you choose a plan for your deck that:

  1. Has detailed, step by step building instructions.
  2. A list of all materials you will need plus the measurements each section requires.
  3. A list of tools that will help you get the job done.
  4. An image of the completed deck so you can be sure you’re on the right track.
  5. Tips or tricks that will make difficult parts less daunting.

This isn’t all you should look for in a deck plan but it should be high on your priority list. When you find that those freebie plans aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, you can check out Joe’s Deck Plans and choose a plan from more than 2,000 detailed blueprints and instructions.

Or you can read my review first and learn bit more about this guy and the services/products he’s offering before you jump in.

But…before you get to that point, there are a few things you should consider when building your deck.

Deck Styles

The first thing you’ll want to consider before you get plans is what type of deck you want. Most of us are accustomed to your basic deck that makes a backyard look roomy and elegant, but there is so much more to a deck than that.

Do you already have a spot chosen for your future deck? If so that will help narrow down your style choices. If there is a hill your deck plans must accommodate that, but if it acts as an extension of your home, you may have even more choices. Are you partial to classic or traditional decks or do you want something more modern like a coastal or mountain style deck?

Your best bet is to look through pictures of decks and see what you like, this will give you an idea of your preferred deck style.


Most new builders assume all decks are wooden but that is not always the case. You should learn a bit about the different deck materials so you understand the pros and cons of each. Determine the best materials for you will depend on a variety of factors including cost and ease of use.

Common deck plans accommodate wood and recycled plastic composite, aluminum, capped composite and PVC vinyl.


For most of us cost will ultimately be the deciding factor, but cost is more than the price of materials. If you choose a material you are unfamiliar with you will have to not only learn how to use them without damaging them, but you will also need to find out if there are tools required that you don’t own.

Compare the materials you are considering as well as the cost of purchasing or renting tools you don’t own. If you have plenty of tools that work well with wood you may want to choose deck plans for wooden decks.

Also I suggest to read this article I’ve wrote which talks about the budget you’ll need, prices etc.


When choosing deck plans you should really stick to your skill level because choosing plans well above your current capabilities will cause endless frustration and perhaps an unstable deck. This is one of the reasons Joe’s Deck Plans is such an appealing product; there are tons of deck plans for all skill levels.

Building a deck at your skill level doesn’t mean some plain deck that looks like it came from a box. You can have the style and accessories you want without hiring a contractor to finish building the deck.

When you choose deck plans it is important to consider all of these factors. Building a deck is an incredibly fun project that you will find extremely rewarding, as long as you find comprehensive instructions that help you every step of the way.

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