Many deck design software in the market either have poor features or a ridiculously high learning curve. These software won’t help you to build or design a deck efficiently nor creatively. Worry not, because our team of experts tried and tested the best deck design software, so you won’t have to waste your money on subpar software for your deck and home plans.
Reviews of the Best Deck Design Software
AutoCAD is one of the most renowned software out there for design purposes, and that extends to deck design as well. It’s a design software that helps users improve over time by saving past drawings in an archive to compare to your newer imaginations.
AutoCAD is easily accessible on any device including your mobile, although our team does feel that a bigger screen allows for more precision.
You will no longer need to send designs through email the old-fashioned way as AutoCAD permits shared viewing and saving of your deck projects on your device or directly on the web.
2. SketchUp Pro
SketchUp is a great landscaping/design software. Our experts found it incredibly useful for creating highly detailed deck designs. You should keep in mind that the SketchUp software isn’t exclusively a deck design software with landscape packages for that purpose alone. Instead, it is a general woodwork design system.
SketchUp Pro designer has a robust and unique set of (landscaping) features like lighting effects and 3D/2D representations of your drawings. Additionally, you can use it to create an animated video and alter things like design textures.
The deck planning tool has a free tryout version not dissimilar to Trex and you could upgrade to the pro/paid version. In the paid SketchUp version, you’ll get unrestricted access to everything SketchUp has to offer.
3. Fusion 360
Fusion 360 is a well-optimized software for integrated design. It combines the functions of CAD, CAM, PCB and CAE into a consolidated platform to make your work easier. With all it has to offer, it’s no wonder engineers of all industries and machinists turn to Fusion 360.
With a name like Fusion 360, you can be sure you get access to diverse 3D design options such as freeform modeling, surface modeling, direct modeling and more.
The cost of Fusion 360 is also a more enticing one just in case our other top choices are a little out of your budget. You can choose to pay per month or per year.
This design software is another great place to start your landscaping deck design escapades. Decks.com provides different shapes that help you to create the overall layout of your decking plan.
It also provides a well-adjusted unique side view of your online plan when you need it. Our experts note that this is very important when you want to adjust the deck height, railing height or plan the footing depth.
Besides all these, Decks.com helps to take the guessing game out of creating decks. The software does so by offering premade plans and materials that you can choose from. Among other options, there are pool decks, high & low elevation decks, landscaping, etc.
Unlike some others on our list, the SmartDraw landscaping/deck design software isn’t exactly free. For this reason, our experts note that it might be better suited for professional deck builders who earn from their craft.
Regardless, if you choose to purchase SmartDraw, you’ll get intuitive Punch-like drag and drop design functions. While testing the product, our team found that this Punch-like drag and drop system sped up work significantly.
You can also include special graphics for elevation posts, hot tubs, furniture, etc. One of the most impressive features of Smartdraw is the landscaping package. It allows you to simply get an entire backyard design instead of just a deck prototype.
6. Idea Spectrum
Similar to some others within our list, Idea Spectrum is a premium/paid design software. Idea Spectrum allows you to create designs for landscapes, pools, gardens, and decks. It has numerous high-quality graphics. When included in your design, they increase realism.
One thing our team found interesting about the Idea Spectrum software is its pricing system as stated on its website. The tool has three different tiers: Plus, Pro, and Architect. That way, you won’t need to spend a lot of money on things that you might not need or even understand.
Some of the features you’ll get include 3D landscape design, water features, and the ability to create CAD drawings.
7. Big Hammer Deck Designer
This is another free designer software for home deck designing. It is simple enough to be used virtually by anyone, including beginners. Despite being relatively unknown, the product offers great design options like designing in 3D.
You can easily view your finished design in three dimensions. The best part is that Big Hammer Deck Designer allows you to spin the design round for some viewing flexibility. If you wish, you could add foliage to increase the realism.
It has over 70 different templates that you can choose from when you need ideas as an architect. These give you a great starting point to design.
Deck Design Software Buyer’s Guide
At this point, we’ve covered seven of the best deck design software of free and paid use that our experts find excellent. However, even if you’re a chief architect, you still need to look out for certain options that will help ensure that you’re making the best purchase decision.
Even if some of the deck design tool choices are free, you don’t want to pick up a designer that will completely waste your time.
Different types of deck designer software tools on our list have different skill requirements. Some developers design their products to be used by a professional deck designer or a chief architect in the woodworking industry. Some developers design their products to be used by home deck designers with multiple years of experience.
However, if you’re still at the level of a hobbyist, you might want to tone your ambitions down a bit. Otherwise, you might end up getting a decking design software that’s well above your level.
A great way to identify design software that are too advanced is with their cost. This isn’t always the case for paid deck designer software with a materials list. But, if the paid tool seems a bit too expensive, it isn’t for an amateur home deck designer.
2D or 3D Modeling
If you’re familiar with design, you’ll know the differences  that exist between 2D and 3D designs and how they affect design or any animated video creation. For 2D designs, you can get the basic idea of your deck. Alongside that, it’s easy to make two-dimensional drawings.
However, they have their limitations when you get started on home deck prototypes. For example, when you draw a 2D square, all you get is a square. This prevents you from getting the full picture of what the deck will look like in your home.
With 3D drawings and models or a 3D video, the possibilities are higher. These program abilities provide a 360-degree view through which any chief architect can see their home deck project properly. This means that you’ll be able to see every dent as well as every angle required.
Deck designer software comes in different platforms. The reason our experts make this assertion is that cloud-based software allows easy storage of any video or design material you create.
As a chief architect, you’re not likely to lose your work, progress, or information so easily. Additionally, you wouldn’t have to worry about updates or the designer software taking too much space on your computer.
However, not all software/program offer cloud storage. So, before purchasing your software/program to design a deck, ensure that it is available on your preferred device. Even with a materials list, you’ll not be able to design the deck of your choice with the program.
After making every other consideration, you should consider how much the online software/program will cost you. You can’t buy a design program if you cannot afford to pay or subscribe to it.
Getting the cheapest thing you see in the market might seem like the best option. This should even be easy, seeing as there are numerous free software. However, if it’s a completely free software/deck builder program, it might not have all the features a pro might want to see in a great design tool, which is often a paid one.
Therefore, consider the price/cost in relation to the value it offers. For example, if one option costs a hundred with five features and another costs ninety with three features, look at the one with the most amount of use to you.
For example, one with an animated video creation option or a drag and drop function like Punch!
The best part is that most of these programs will have a free trial version like the Trex design software. This enables you to test them out and decide if you want to make the financial commitment as a chief architect.
What is the best free deck design software?
The best free deck design software is AutoCAD. This design tool has 3D capabilities with multiple other options to add realism to your deck project. It also offers intuitive design tools that are easy to use and understand.
Our Top Pick For a Deck Design Software: AutoCAD
Our team’s top pick for best design software for decks goes to AutoCAD. This is no surprise considering our experts have been using it for years for personal and commercial projects.
Not only do you get access to both 3D and 2D visualizations, AutoCAD also supports different types of modeling, export formats, and useful tools. However, nothing beats the user friendly interface that is easy to understand and there’s even a free trial available.