Free Standing Deck with Planters and Benches

A simple, straightforward deck like this one complements almost any home. A built-in bench, planters, and diagonal decking add style to the basic rectangular deck. Instructions for building it are included here on DIYadvice.com.
Low cost, easy to build

Several techniques make this design easy to build. The joists overhang the beam, so the posts and beam do not have to be precisely positioned. The hefty beam needs fewer piers -- a real worksaver because digging and setting piers can be the most laborious stage of deck building.

The large beam also permits a 3-foot cantilever. That's a good feature for new homes where the backfill soil along the foundation has not yet settled: Building codes often require piers to be set as deep as 8 feet in such soil. The longer cantilever places piers farther away from the backfill, so they need not be as deep. The deck is rectangular, so joists can be cut the same length. Angled decking adds visual appeal and requires only a bit more care than straight decking to install.

This deck uses inexpensive pressure-treated lumber for all its parts. Treated wood resists rot and can be stained to look like cedar or redwood.

Getting the size right

The upper level, minus the benches and planters, is 10x12 feet, allowing plenty of room for a grill, a food prep table, and a pathway. The lower level is roughly 14 feet square, a good size for a dining area.

 

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