Deck Designer allows for various deck corner shapes, and includes internal shaping tools to accommodate trees, pools, or spas within the deck space.
A quarter of remodelers responding to an NAHB survey earlier this year listed decks as one of their most common projects in 2017. To help those professionals, MiTek’s Deck Designer software is here to increase efficiency in the design process.
“It gives customers—and potential customers—a tool that helps with day-to-day work and increases efficiency,” says MiTek’s director of national accounts, Craig Kapp. “You could complete a design in a matter of minutes once you’re used to the tool, and you can get good at it in just 15-20 minutes.”
Updated in 2018, Deck Designer is a free interactive software that helps homeowners and building professionals easily create scaled illustrations of decking projects. The latest version allows customization of different deck levels, plank direction, size, and color.
All customizations are housed in the navigation menu to the left of the screen and arranged in the order of a typical deck design project, beginning with dimensions and ending with finishing touches. Accessories can be added to visualize the amount of deck space needed for a project if clients want, say, a four-person patio table or a few lounge chairs on the deck. Users can also set other aspects of the design, such as footer depth, live and static load values, and preferred maximum joist spacing.
One of MiTek’s goals for the update was to create a tool easy enough for any homeowner to use. “We’ve always promoted it to building pros and materials manufacturers, but we found that a lot of homeowners were Googling ‘deck design software,’ and ours would come up for them to use,” says Kapp. “Our user base is still largely pros, but it’s easy enough for any person with a computer to use.”
Within the program, the deck and any add-ons can be easily resized by clicking and dragging with the mouse. When any modification occurs, railings, joist spacing, and footers automatically adjust to the new size or shape.
Thanks to the 3D perspective, users can zoom and rotate the deck to view the design from any angle. Additional levels can be added, and the height of the deck can be easily altered. Multiple stair designs are available, and landing heights and sizes can be easily altered with the click and drag of the mouse.
A top feature for contractors working with clients (and, really, a useful feature for anyone using the software) is the ability to upload photos of the home and design the deck around it. If you choose not to upload photos of the home, though, walls, windows, and doors can still be added to the design.
After setting dimensions and finalizing the layout, materials and trim details can be changed to show clients various color and style options. Structural elements such as connectors and post, beam, and joist sizes are also adjustable, letting users quickly compare the effects of various choices on the structure.
Once completed, designs can be printed, emailed, or exported, and include complete material and cut lists as well as permit submittals and 3D renderings. “It cuts down on the time it would take to do the take-offs by hand, and makes it easier to collaborate with clients and manufacturers,” says Kapp.
Deck Designer currently runs on only Windows operating systems, but an iPad app is in the end stages of development and will soon be released.