High-performance deck planning

The end result: your own private oasis, mere feet from the fridge. The process? Nearly as easy, provided you envision your plans for using this newfound entertaining/relaxing/al-fresco-everything living space. You’ll want to be able to tell your top rails from your balusters for sure, but it’s also time to consider some bigger questions, like how much space do you need to pull out the dining chairs? Does your town require architectural plans before permits? And what about a hot tub?

Deck Planning Basics

Knowing the building blocks of decking and railing helps you understand all the beautiful options possible with Trex® – from colours to profiles to finishes.

Components – Get To Know Deck Building Blocks

  • A Top rail: The horizontal portion that attaches to the top of balusters and posts, and maintains straightness.
  • B Post cap: Cap topping each post is the decorative finish that also stands the weather.
  • C Balusters: Smaller pickets that ensure spacing and safety.
  • D Post: Sturdy vertical pole that bookends a section of railing.
  • E Bottom rail: The horizontal portion that attaches to the bottom of balusters and posts, and maintains straightness.
  • F Post skirt: A finishing piece at the base of the post that covers any cuts where the decking and railing meet; usually coordinates with the cap.
  • G Cocktail rail: Optional add-on; its flat, deck-board surface can hold drinks, planters & more.
Wood grain pattern of Trex Accents composite decking in Saddle
  • G Decking: The decking boards that serve as the walking surface.
  • H Joist: Dimensional structure, set on edge, which supports decking.
  • I Beam: Supported by posts, the beam is the main horizontal support for the deck.
  • L Elevated post: Vertical supports that rest on footings and support the beam.
  • M Footing: The below-ground support of a deck’s post, usually made from concrete.
  • N Tread: The walking surface of each step in a stairway.
  • O Riser: A board attached to the vertical face of a step between treads.
  • P Stringer: The support frame of stairs to which the risers and treads attach.

Build Or Resurface?

Deck builds usually go two ways: you have a framework with a little life left in it and only the top boards need a facelift. Or, you’re starting from the grass up and need a completely new deck. Either way, Trex is the perfect solution, with myriad products that outdeck timber at every stage.

Codes & Permits Checklist

1 Permits:

Check with your government offices for what permits are necessary and any building code requirements

2 Homeowner association:

Understand any rules regarding deck size, colour, product type or design

3 What’s underground:

Check with local utilities companies for the location of any underground cables, wires or pipes (a builder often helps with this).