There’s nothing like a deck on a summer’s day. A good deck can host you from morning through to evening, from lounging lunches to vibrant parties. You just have to make sure that everyone can fit on comfortably.
If you’re building a deck for entertaining, size needs to be a primary consideration. After all, no one really relaxes and enjoys an evening if they’re constantly jostling for space. The deck needs to be large enough that it’s comfortable, without being so large that guests feel lost.
Deciding on the right size deck is about knowing how the desk will be used, and understanding the space it fits into. With just a few considerations, you can pick the perfect deck, for creating summer evenings your guests are sure to remember.
What is a good size deck for entertaining?
The average size deck is between 300 and 400 square feet. However, seating for 4 people only needs 144 square feet of space. Anywhere within these two size ranges should be enough to comfortably entertain a good number of guests.
For a single guest, 20 square feet is considered to be a decent amount of space. Which means that a 144 sq ft deck is suitable for 7 people, able to stretch out comfortably.
This is just an average – you can fit more in, they’ll just be closer together. For relaxed summer entertaining, you want to be able to give your guests space.
With this in mind, you have to consider how many people you’re likely to have over whenever you entertain. Forget the big events – such as the 4th of July or New Years – and think of the primary purpose of the deck.
If you mostly like to have a couple of friends over for a Saturday grill, then you won’t need masses of space.
Size is important, but shape should also be considered. A long and thin deck can have more square footage, but it feels uncomfortable when entertaining. Similarly, a perfectly square deck doesn’t allow for any movement of guests.
The average deck has more width than it does depth. For entertaining, this shape allows you to set up different “areas”, to create a richer experience. One end of the deck can be dedicated to lounging, the other for barbecuing, and the space in the middle is where guests can linger and chat.
Another factor to consider is where the doors will be located in relation to the deck. Ideally, the door will be in the center. That makes it easy for people to pass through without having to constantly shuffle around.
However, most of us have little say in where our doors are positioned. Consider how people will get in and out when picking a size and shape for your deck.
Don’t be afraid to use levels to extend a deck outwards. A few steps down to a lower seating area gives guests a quieter place to talk, and it feels larger than a single layer deck.
When you’re designing an area for entertaining, you need to consider the kind of furniture that will be needed. Do you want a long dinner table, for elaborate meals and electric conversation?
Do you want lounging chairs, so everyone can sit back and relax? Or would you prefer small and moveable furniture, which can adapt to different occasions?
If you like to plan big dinner parties, then the furniture needs will be different from what’s comfortable for drinks with friends. The furniture decisions don’t need to be nailed down before you start your decking, but it is better to have an idea of what you need.
Think as well of any hosting items and accessories you may need. Ice buckets, mini fridges, bar carts etc. there’s so much you can do to make your deck a perfect entertaining space. Make sure to consider these factors when you’re deciding on the size.
What furniture you intend to use will also have an effect on the dimensions of the deck. For those of us who enjoy stretching out in the sun’s rays, a chaise lounge might be the perfect chair.
In this case, the deck needs to have enough depth to fit the chair without blocking the space. If you want to catch up over coffee, the deck needs the width for two chairs and a table.
The Size of the House
Although a giant deck may seem appealing, going too big does risk dwarfing your actual house. A particularly large deck can look odd and imbalanced if it doesn’t match the house correctly.
A general rule of thumb is that the deck should never be larger than 20% of the house’s square footage. It should also never be larger than the biggest room in the house.
Of course, these are only guidelines, and you do need to take your own situation into account. If you live in a particularly warm part of the country, you may want the deck to function as your main living area.
Through balmy springs, blazing summers, and warming fall, the deck is the place you turn to. Perhaps you’re thinking about installing an outdoor kitchen, and turning the deck into the main feature of the house.
In these cases, having an oversized deck will work, because it becomes such a focal point.
If you find yourself on a strict budget, the actual size of the deck may be determined by what you can afford. Decking isn’t an area where you want to cut costs by cutting corners – especially not if you want to use the deck for entertaining.
A shoddily made deck will quickly show the wear from multiple passing feet. An attractive deck that can fit fewer people is better than a large deck that won’t withstand the usage.
It’s worth thinking carefully about this decision, because the end result is an entertainment space that can bring you joy for decades to come. Consider how you intend to use the deck, how it works with the house, and what you can afford.