Among the most popular deck designs, according to Better Homes and Gardens, are platform decks, most often attached to single level dwellings with level lots, and raised decks, necessary when a home has a first floor that's above the lot level. Two-story decks are popular because they provide outdoor access to a home's upper story, while the popular multilevel deck offers entertaining space that capitalizes on a yard's sunny and shady spaces. Freestanding decks are another popular option.
Each deck design comes with certain challenges and design opportunities. Platform decks do not usually require railings because they are low to the ground, but certain enhancements, such as planters or bench seating, are recommended to add to the deck's visual interest. Raised decks, sitting higher, must incorporate railings and other regulated safety features. Both raised and two-story decks include exposed foundation posts. Depending on one's design aesthetic, skirting, plantings or facings, such as rock or brick, are often used to conceal the posts.
Multilevel decks work well with sloped lots and are designed to complement the ground's contours. Stairs and walkways connect the various decks and, in addition to required safety features, design plans need to consider how the placement of stairs may interfere with the view from another deck. Freestanding decks do not require the use of a ledger board, which on some types of construction is not possible. Footing, beams and posts take the place of the ledger. Freestanding decks are placed to highlight the most attractive parts of a yard.