Thinking about adding a backyard deck to your home this year? Wondering how to avoid the builder-grade, cookie-cutter look without spending a fortune?

Whether you’re seeking a little or a lot of customization, we’ve got some great ideas for you when it comes to deck design.

Custom Decks by Archadeck

Custom Decks by Archadeck

Learn how to use boards, rails, balusters, lights, stairs, seating, planters or even a roof to take your deck from ‘ gosh that’s nice’ to ‘Ohhh WOW!’.

Deck with Floor Board Pattern, St. Louis Mo, by Archadeck

Deck with Floor Board Pattern, St. Louis Mo, by Archadeck

Bring-on the ‘bold’ with the deck boards

Whether you want to make a subtle or a bold statement, use the deck boards to bring-out a style, perfect for you.

If you prefer simplicity, opt for one board that runs perpendicular to the others or several planks to frame the edges of the floor.  These patterns will break-up the design visually and differentiate deck surfaces into functional zones — dining, grilling, lounging.

For a little more oomph, change not only the board direction, but the color too. (See photo above)

What about even more detail?  Customized patterns are unique and, if built right, impressive.* Consider an inlay, parquet, herringbone or chevron layout.

Deck with Floor Inlay by Archadeck

Deck with Floor Inlay by Archadeck

*If intricate architecture is used, it’s best to keep the rest of your design strategy straight-forward and uncluttered.  And when it comes to price, the more elaborate the design, the higher-the labor cost.

For additional information on the topic, check-out Deck Design Ideas:  Floor Board Patterns by Archadeck.

Rock-it with rails

When you think about rails, think ‘safety’ first.  Rails are mandated by all city ordinances for any structure built much above grade-level.

But railings will also make-or-break the project’s appearance too!

With a significant style impact — not only from the deck itself, but from the inside of your home, the yard and the curb — rails should be used to tie everything together, from the outside, in.

Low Maintenance Deck and Railing by Archadeck

Low Maintenance Deck and Railing by Archadeck

So let’s assume you need deck railing.  Now what?

Selecting rails will boil-down to four choices:

  • choose material(s)
  • choose color(s)
  • choose ‘the look’
  • choose the price

With an overwhelming number of railing styles today AND accessories (balusters, lights, post caps etc.) an experienced contractor can guide you through the selection process.

There are genres galore – traditional, rustic, contemporary; you can mix-and-match colors and materials too (wood, composite, vinyl, metals, glass).

And price?  Well, price will be determined by the size of your project, the specific product(s) used and any add-on rail accessories.

For more information, check-out our series of articles on rails:

How To Choose The Best Rail Design For Your Deck

How To Choose The Best Baluster Design For Your Deck

How To Choose The Best Post Cover and Caps For Deck Design

Brighten things up with deck lights, everywhere

For life-on-the-deck-after-dusk, illuminate it.   You’ll jazz-up night-time ambiance and boost both safety and security.

Deck with Step Riser Lights and Railing Lights by Archadeck

Deck with Step Riser Lights and Railing Lights by Archadeck

And there’s no shortage of ways to light-it-up:

  • recessed lights are low-to-the-surface on a deck and shine upward
  • accent lights shine downward and are installed on rails
  • stair lights can be installed on either the step risers or on the railing… or both
  • post lights provide wide-scale illumination
  • solar lights are cost-effective and energy-efficient
  • low voltage lights are an alternative to solar for shaded decks

For in-depth detail on the topic, check-out our article, How To Add Lights To A Deck, Screened Porch or Pergola.

Step-up the design with the stairs

There are three components to deck stairs:  stringers, treads and risers.  Treads are the top of the stairs, stringers are under the stairs and risers are between the stairs.

And when calculating and constructing deck steps, there’s no wiggle-room. None. They must be EXACT for safety and code compliance.

But beyond the architectural precision, how about the look? What can you do to enhance the design?

  • include lights
  • incorporate landings
  • change the color
  • turn a corner
  • try curves or a cascade
  • have more than one set of stairs
Deck and Stairs by Archadeck

Deck and Stairs by Archadeck

For everything you need to know about deck stairs, check-out this popular article How To Choose The Best Stair Design For Your Deck.

Build seating with deck benches

Benches incorporated directly in your deck’s design add convenient seating solutions and visual appeal.  But best of all, the sky’s-the-limit when it comes to this extra feature.

Composite Deck with Bench by Archadeck

Composite Deck with Bench by Archadeck

For example, benches can be simple or elaborate and built:

  • straight and long
  • curved or angular
  • within the railing
  • instead of railing
  • as a planter combo
  • for a focal point
  • in a niche all their own
Deck with Benches by Archadeck

Deck with Benches by Archadeck

With visual appeal and practical convenience, many homeowners opt for benches. So take your deck to the next level with built-in seating.  It’s always a plus!

Plant a garden right on your deck

Speaking of built-ins…  how ’bout having your very own garden, right on your deck?  Small or large, containers or built-in boxes, plants provide inexpensive flair for any deck.  And you might be able to grow a bounty of flowers, herbs, or veggies to boot!

Deck with Planters, by Archadeck

Deck with Planters, by Archadeck

Last week’s post covered the topic in detail, so no need to rehash the same stuff. If you’re interested though, just read 5 Ways To Add Plants To Your Deck Design.

Resist the rain with a roof

One of the more costly ways to improve a deck is with a roof.  Construction-wise, roofs require more materials, more labor and a contractor with more know-how. But for some homeowners, the benefits are well-worth the boost in budget.

The obvious advantages of a roof over a deck include comfort, protection, style and extended use regardless of rain.

Decks with Roofs by Archadeck

Decks with Roofs by Archadeck

But did you know that you can add a ‘roof’ under your deck too?  Want to go even one step further?  Add a roof or screens or all three?

Screened In Upper Deck with Gable Roof, Under Deck Covered Patio, Project by Archadeck

Screened In Upper Deck with Gable Roof, Under Deck Covered Patio, Project by Archadeck

For lots of detail on the subject, check out our popular recent and evergreen articles including:

How To Cover Your Deck For Any Price

Screened In Deck Design Ideas

Porch Roofing Options

St. Louis Decks:  Underneath It All

Key takeaways

  • Achieve deck uniqueness with small (or large) custom features.
  • Start with the deck boards.  Change the direction.  Change the color.
  • Rails offer an easy opportunity for style.
  • Lights are a ‘must-have’ amenity.
  • If your deck is elevated, jazz-up the steps.
  • Planters and convenient seating — built-in or not — are popular.
  • A roof supplies versatility for usage, rain or shine.
  • Balance your wish-list with budget considerations.
Decks by Archadeck

Custom Decks by Archadeck

Next Steps

Do you live in or near St. Louis Missouri?  Are you looking for a deck, porch or pergola contractor? If so, please consider Archadeck.

We’re locally owned and operated with offices in St. Louis West County — just call 636-227-0800, anytime. (Outside of St. Louis call, 888-687-3325)

What if you’re not quite ready to talk to a builder?  You can find additional ideas for outdoor living by visiting our website  You’ll see photo galleries, an online inquiry form, a free download for Archadeck’s design guide and video(s) too. 

Find us on social media —  Pinterest, Google+ and Houzz.

But no matter where you live or what contractor you choose, download Archadeck’s free design guide.  It’s a helpful tool in the planning process.  Just complete the brief online request to receive the guide; no strings attached!

Archadeck Outdoor Living Free Design Guide, Cover Graphic by Matthew Victor

Archadeck Outdoor Living Free Design Guide, Cover Graphic by Matthew Victor


Archadeck Outdoor Living, Timbertown, Backyard Design Ideas,, Popular Mechanics, Better Homes and Gardens, Tufdeck, Archadecks of Piedmont Triad, Central South Carolina, Pittsburg, Chicago IL, Chester County PA, Columbus OH, Central Connecticut, Virginia Beach, Birmingham

Design Guide Cover graphic by Matthew Victor, Intern for Archadeck of West County.  Contact Matt by email at  Matt has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from the University of Missouri–St. Louis and is currently completing a second degree in graphic design.