Expert Advice

7 Questions to Ask Yourself When Designing Your Outdoor Space  

Uncover the seven important things to consider when designing your outdoor living space. 

February 23, 2024
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With so many options and factors to consider, planning your dream deck may seem like a daunting task. If your mind is racing with a million and one questions, ranging from deck style and design to functionality and budget, you’re not alone. To help make the process more manageable, following are seven important questions to guide your decision-making and help you design the perfect deck for your lifestyle and needs.  

How do I want to feel on my deck?

When you picture yourself enjoying your new outdoor space, how do you imagine you’d like to feel? Where do you want this place to take or transport you? Do you want your deck to be a peaceful, outdoor oasis where you go to relax? Maybe connecting with nature is a top priority for you. Or do you want this space to feel like an extension of your living room, but just outside? Answering these questions will help put you in the right frame of mind for making design decisions and product selections. Regardless of how you’d like to feel on your deck, Trex has a full range of outdoor living solutions to help you achieve your desired sensation. 

How do I plan to use my outdoor space? 

Whether you’d like to open your outdoor oasis to all or reserve it as a private sanctuary, how you plan to use your space will help determine your deck design. Are you looking for a restorative retreat where you can relax and connect with nature? Are you an avid foodie who would benefit from a custom outdoor kitchen and al fresco area for dining and entertaining? Do you have a great view you’re looking to optimize or perhaps one you’d rather minimize? Do you want a splinter-free surface that is comfortable underfoot and safe for kids and pets? Asking yourself these questions will help you determine the ideal size, shape and layout of your deck, as well as the types of decking and railing materials that might work best for your home and vision.  

What’s my style?

When designing your deck, it’s important to infuse it with your own personal style. Are you modern or more traditional? Is your vibe coastal or contemporary? Are you drawn to Southern charm or minimalist industrial? A great place to assess your design tastes is in your closet. What you choose to wear is a great indicator of what makes you feel comfortable and confident. Take note of the colors, materials and styles in your wardrobe and bring those to your deck planning process. If your deck is attached to your home, consider the adjoining room(s) and make choices that create a natural extension from indoors out. With Trex’s Color Selector and Deck & Railing Duos, you can explore an array of options to get a feel for what fits your style best. 

What type of space do I have?

Before going too far down the design path, you’ll need to consider where your outdoor space will live. Will it be built on level ground, or will it require grading? Will it be attached to your home and, if so, where (e.g., ground level or elevated)? Will there be room beneath the deck that can be used as storage or additional living space? It’s also important to give thought to your home’s exterior and whether you will need to factor that into your deck design. Our Trex® AR Deck Visualizer is a great tool for helping you identify the decking and railing styles that work best with your home. This free app allows you to virtually “build” a deck against your actual backyard space using basic shapes, colors and profiles to help you visualize how different design choices will look in your own home environment. 

What will I need/want from this space in 2, 5, 10 years?

Building a deck is a major investment, so it’s important to think beyond the immediate gratification of your first outdoor living season. Give serious thought to how you might want or need the space to function for you in the future. Do you anticipate a growing family with the need for a place to gather outdoors? Are you looking for a deck that will live up to years of wear and tear without requiring regular maintenance? Do you foresee a need to accommodate mobility challenges? Is it important that you recoup your investment should you decide to move? Look ahead and plan accordingly. Coincidentally, Trex’s high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking, durable and stylish railing systems and energy-efficient outdoor lighting are choices that will evolve with your lifestyle and create an outdoor space where you can turn moments into memories for decades to come.  

What’s my budget?

To ensure your dream deck remains within reach, determine your budget early in the process and commit to sticking to it. Once you’re exposed to the array of products and options available to you, it can be easy to let yourself get carried away. When planning your budget, keep in mind all aspects of a deck build. Trex offers a handy Cost Calculator that estimates material costs based on the anticipated size, substructure and railing being considered for a deck. You’ll also need to factor in permits, labor and any extras like a pergola, fire pit or furniture, which can add comfort, character and costs to your outdoor retreat. It’s a good idea to allow for some cushion in your budget. As with any major home improvement project, you can expect some unexpected charges along the way. 

How do I get started?

After answering these questions, you should now have a good understanding of what you want and need in your deck design and be ready to take the next steps. The Trex® Deck Design Tool & Online Deck Planner makes it simple to design your deck in more detail with 3-D software that allows you to adjust and refine your layout. Once you’ve put the final touches on your design, you can download a shopping list of materials and share a blueprint with your contractor or local planning office to obtain a permit. On Trex.com, you can find deck builders and retailers in your area who can help you make your dream deck a reality.