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Custom Decks: Know Your Options (Before Your Start)

February 23rd, 2018 | 3 min read

By Michael Flory

Outdoor kitchen space on a deck

There is a lot to consider when deciding to add a deck to your home. What material will you make it out of? What should it look like? How are you going to get it built?

Here, we lay out some of the most popular deck materials, designs and methods of construction to help you find the right style for you.

Deck Materials


Wood is the material most people think of when the word “deck” comes to mind. This material can last a long time if you give it the maintenance it needs, including regular staining and painting or an initial pressure treatment.

Different types of wood have different properties, costs, and maintenance needs, so make sure you’re getting the right wood for your project. Keep in mind also, that even very high-end woods, like mahogany, that are relatively low maintenance as far as wood is concerned, still need regular painting and staining to stay them in top condition.


Composite decks are known to be a beautiful and durable option that is almost maintenance-free. This material tends to be cheaper than most woods and requires less regular maintenance.

Composite decks do not need the regular staining that wood does, don’t suffer from splinters or cracking, and are immune to insects. With proper construction, these decks can last longer than wood with no need for annual deck-painting parties.


These decks have a built-in drainage system under the deck that prevents water from accumulating inside. This avoids problems with mold and rot that both wood and composite decks can encounter if not constructed and finished carefully.

This system collects and channels moisture from the spaces between planks, keeping the top of your deck in perfect condition. In second story decks, channeling water away from the deck has an added advantage of keeping the under-deck patio area a dry haven from the rain.

Popular Designs

One Story

A ground-level deck gives you easy access to the outdoors. With this style, grilling on the deck is just steps away from a family frisbee game. In terms of accessibility, no stairs mean easier access for those who have problems with steps and safer distances for small children to fall.

These ground-level structures add elegance to your yard and give you a place to set a table, grill, and enjoy the outdoors without navigating soggy grass or uneven terrain.

Outdoor deck with curved edges and seating areas

Two Story

These decks make the most of your space with a top-floor grill and hangout place sheltering a bottom-floor alcove from rain and sun. The possibilities are endless and you can adapt each level to your specific needs.

With twice as much floor space, you can have even more fun features like big comfy chairs, a grill large enough to cook for your entire extended family, or life-sized chess without encroaching on your lawn.

2 story deck with white railing posts

Special Features

Add personality to your deck with elements that are uniquely you. Some special features we’ve seen bringing decks to the next level are stone fireplaces, water features, and built-in bars. Your imagination is the limit. Here are some of our favorite features to get you thinking.

Hot tub on a deck with a pergola


Ways to Build Your Deck

Now that you’re dreaming of your deck, how do you bring this dream into reality? There is a range of options spanning from doing everything yourself to having an expert team take care of everything from the first design to hammering in the final nail. What style is best for your project?

DIY (Do-It-Yourself)

Doing it yourself can be great fun and may seem like the best way to get exactly what you want while also saving money. After all, you will be in control of everything from drawing the plans to picking the type of screws to use to pouring the cement pillar foundations. For people with experience in design and construction, this can be a great opportunity to flex your creative and technical skills.

However, if this is your first major construction project, you may find many unexpected frustrations (and costs) as you learn by trial and error what designs and materials work and which ones don’t. If you’ve ever had to make three trips to the hardware store for one simple project, you know what this feels like. Do you really want that feeling amplified to the size of a deck?

Individual Contractors

Are you tool-savvy but not sure you can design a sound structure? Or maybe you’re an armchair architect who needs someone to do the heavy lifting. Hiring contractors for the parts of the job you don’t feel comfortable doing yourself can get your deck completed with an expert eye while also keeping the project in your hands.

This will take time to research and interview the contractors you want and of course, you will end up paying more for their expertise than doing it yourself. But a job done well can often be worth the cost.

Design-Remodel Firm

When you hire a design-remodel firm, you know your project will be completed with expertise and care. This type of firm employs professionals who specialize in individual aspects of remodeling. The design team will talk with you to get your dream on paper with the features you want and the details a construction team needs.

Then, builders, carpenters, and other specialized professionals can come in and bring your project to life with the experience that comes from years in their fields. This option often costs more than hiring individual contractors but comes with a consistent vision through the whole process.

Does this have you thinking about your dream deck? If you’re ready to research more, we think you might find our blog about building a budget helpful.

custom built design and remodeling deck builders michigan


Michael Flory

Michael brings over 2 decades of building and remodeling experience to his position as the Owner and Visionary of Custom Built. Michael’s passion to make an impact on the home building industry has led him to serve for over ten years at the local and state Home Builders Association, culminating as President of the HBA of Michigan in 2020.