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Fully Loaded

Photo by Philip Harvey

Dynamite deck design delivers on vistas, versatility, longevity and safety. This sunken banquette doesn't block the San Francisco Bay views from inside the house. Granite provides a weatherproof surface for the central and end tables, while the cedar-clad, copper-lined planter—fitted with low-profile lights to illuminate the stairs—greens up the deck's expanse. The Western red cedar decking runs in three directions, defining different areas and directing the eye outward.

Throwing a Curve

Photo by Grey Crawford

Semicircular seating provides a perch for admiring Pasadena's hills and basking in the warmth of a gas firepit. The redwood railings form the built-in seat's back, while the seat itself is made of tapered boards cut to fit the arc. Solar-cell lanterns sit atop the posts.

Secluded Seating

Photo by Grey Crawford

With the neighbors only 10 feet away, the Pasadena deck desperately needed privacy. An 8-foot-high wall, made of 1x4 redwood staves, blocks the unwanted view and provides a place for additional built-in seating.

Made for the Shade

Photo by William P. Steele

The pergola's crisscrossing rafters and purlins create a patch of dappled shade for this Maryland deck. The structure was bolted to the deck framing, and the decking was cut to fit around each post. The railings' wood frames hold welded wire mesh. The 2-inch mesh, which is powder-coated to prevent rust, doesn't compromise safety or the river view.

Cable Access

Photo by Jay Graham

Wood and metal collaborate in this deck's unobtrusive railing. Horizontal tubes of 1/2-inch stainless steel form a nearly transparent barrier between diners and vista. The same spare look can also be achieved by running stainless wire cable through holes in the posts. Turnbuckles at the ends of the cables can be adjusted to keep the cables tight.

Bird's Eye View

Photo by William P. Steele

Separating the deck from the rest of the roof, this sturdy railing wraps an outdoor aerie behind a master suite, providing for safe and secluded panoramas of the Greenwich, Connecticut property.

A Tree Grows in Texas

Photo by Paul Bardagy

Design and nature collaborate to combat the Texas heat. A pergola with a pulldown screen stands sentinel against the sun. The redwood decking undulates around a cool pool and is cut to incorporate arboreal shade.

Sink Below the Surface

Photo by David Albanese

A pre-fabricated acrylic hot tub was sunk 1 1/2 inches below the surface of this Palos Verdes deck, then rimmed it with 6-inch-wide redwood molding so that it appears to float. The hot tub is supported underneath by a concrete slab resting on the ground.

A Table With a View

Photo by David Albanese

At corners of the railing around the Palos Verdes deck, mitered pieces of 2x6 redwood create an inverted pyramid table that also conceals low-voltage lighting mounted underneath.

Dark Star

Photo by David Albanese

You can practically see yourself in the reflective sheen of this deck stained to match the adjacent dark-walnut floor in the Los Angeles Shingle Style home. The decking material is ipe, a strong, durable Brazilian hardwood. The Forest Stewardship Council certifies many ipe brands as responsibly grown and harvested.