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Happy CADing with ZWCAD: How to Design a Safe Deck?

Happy CADing with ZWCAD: How to Design a Safe Deck?

An ideal place to spend leisure hours? I’d vote for a wooden deck where you’re free to enjoy the sunshine, tweets of birds, BBQ parties, etc. outdoors while staying close to home. And today, I want to share with you some tips and tricks for designing a safe deck (download the design kit here).

In the following article, the whole procedure, including preparations, CADing, material selection, and drawing plotting will be covered. Besides, a tutorial video is also ready to help you understand the design process better. A surprise is waiting for you at the end of the article as well!

Before you start

To build a safe deck that can better withstand the test of time and bad weather, you need to consider a lot of things like obtaining a construction permit first. Also, please make sure that the soil you’re building the deck on is suitable because that could easily be its Achilles’ heel. So, although we’re not focusing on such considerations today, you must attach importance to them.

Preparing the plan

Before designing, you need to first prepare the plan of your house and its surroundings. Such a top view can help you better decide where to locate the deck and the basic shape of it.

A plan of the house and its surroundings to decide the location of the deck

Figure 1. A plan of the house and its surroundings to decide the location of the deck

Then, you can start outlining. At this stage, practicality should be your first consideration. If the ground were noticeably uneven, you should consider designing a multi-level deck.

The basic shape of the deck

Figure 2. The basic shape of the deck will be the base of the design

Next, you shall draw the dividing lines on the deck to represent the placement of the wood. Here’s a quick note: add dimensions to your design! Further, to make it easier to read the drawing, you could use the Super Hatch function to texturize the deck with realistic wood images.

The deck plan

Figure 3. Super Hatch can help make the deck plan realistic

Moving on, time to create the layout of the supporting pillars. Unlike a building, a wooden deck is relatively lightweight and the pillars could be small. Still, you should allow for the moving load on the deck, which means the distance between two pillars is usually about 3m to 4 meters.

How to quickly place them? With the convenient Array function, you can do the job in just 2 steps. (Learn more about ARRAY!) First, select the pillar as the basic object. Then, set the distances on the X and Y axes.

The pillar plan of the deck

Figure 4. Pillars can be quickly placed with ARRAY

Designing the elevation

Now that we have all the plans ready, let’s switch to another view. An elevation is mainly to show the height differences of the deck and its railings. Normally, the deck should be lower than the house floor so that it can prevent the water from flowing back to the house when there is heavy rain outside. As for the railings, it is suggested that you set the height to be 1 meter.

The elevation of the deck

Figure 5. You can easily tell the height differences of the deck and railings with an elevation

Choosing the materials

Whew—we’re now done designing! Let’s talk about the materials you’ll need for the deck. Choosing the right type of wood is vital to lengthening the lifespan of your deck. Antiseptic and insect-resistant timbers are ideal. Depending on your budget, you could select the very durable but expensive ones like red cedar or the fairly durable but cost-effective ones like camphorwood.

The right type of wood is vital to a deck

Figure 6. Choosing the right type of wood is vital

Apart from the wood, you need to pay special attention to the fasteners. Now, screws are preferred over nails which tend to loosen as time goes by. However, not all screws are strong enough for the exterior environment. Therefore, I suggest that you use rustproof ones. Also, if you chose treated timber, fasteners that are hardly affected by the chemicals will be ideal.

Screws are preferred over nails for a deck

Figure 7. Rustproof screws that are hardly affected by chemicals are ideal

Printing the layout

Finally, it’s time to create a layout. First, you need to insert your title block in the layout space for all concerned to check the necessary information, such as the materials and size. Then, you shall decide on the paper size in the Page setup manager. In this case, I think A3 is just fine. Lastly, you could generate viewports using the VPORTS command and organize the layout.

The layout of the deck

Figure 8. The final layout for contractors to check

At last, the whole design has been finished, and you can contact your local contractor and discuss it with them. It’s not that complicated to design a deck yourself, right? With a handy CAD program, it’s even easier. Why not have a try with a 30-day free trial of the latest ZWCAD?

Plus, feel free to share your work with us via email and get rewarded with a free 1-year license!

Ryan Huang

Ryan Huang

Architect and Designer

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