Front Deck Ideas for Small Houses

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front deck ideas for small houses

When we think about a deck the first thing that probably comes to mind is a large wooden deck with a barbecue pit and some chairs sprawling into a large back yard. However, it isn’t uncommon to also have a deck on the front of your home.

While it may not seem like it, front porch decks are fairly common on larger homes. With a small house, though, it may not be as intuitive. However, it is possible and with small houses, you have to be creative and innovative, making the project exciting.

Here we will look at what it takes to build a front deck for small houses and give you plenty of ideas to start your own front deck project.

Most Popular Materials for Front Decks

Building a deck can be a fun and exciting project. Using the most popular materials is also a way to make the project easier on yourself (and budget).

  • Pressure Treated Lumber. The most popular and affordable option for all decking over the last few decades.
  • Ironwood Decking. Ironwoods like Ipe and Cumaru are popular options for their strength and durability.
  • Brick. Brick is a classic front porch and decking option in many neighborhoods.
  • Aluminum Decking. Cost-efficient, corrosion resistant and simple install make aluminum a decent choice.
  • Composite Decking. Composite decking is fairly new to the space (comparatively) but is an affordable option with longevity and great warranties.

Buyer’s Guide: Considerations for Front Porch Construction

buyers guide front porch construction

Before you go shopping for deck materials and hire a contractor, there are several factors you need to consider. Below we outline those factors and explain why they are important to your final plans and decision making processes.

Total Area Size

When you plan a deck, usually you walk the yard and take measurements to see how far you want to extend and have plenty of room to make big plans. With a small house and a deck in the front, though, you are more limited. You need to take precise measurements so you know exactly what you have to work with.

When making your plans for the deck layout and appearance it is important to know what you expect and where you would like things like chairs or benches placed so you can plan accordingly.

Materials Needed

When it comes to the construction of the actual deck you will also need to plan and contemplate all the materials you will need. This will help in budgeting, too, but mostly to ensure you have everything you need before you begin.

The list should include the decking material, obviously. But you should also include fasteners, fascia boards, screws and nails, the support beams and mounting hardware. You can also include finishing touches on this list to include railings, banisters, lighting and more.

Tools and Equipment

Along with the materials you need to make a thorough tools and equipment list. This is especially important for a DIY build, but less so with a professional install. However, it is still critical to know what is needed or required to help you plan your build and be cautious of any scrupulous contractors.

DIY or Professional Construction

Most decking should be handled by a professional. While it isn’t outside the realm of possibilities as a DIY project, these can become quite labor intensive. On top of that you may need to acquire the proper permits and permissions, which a professional will typically handle for you.

As a DIY project though, you need to know that your front door will be pretty much out of commission until the project is complete, so if you can’t get it done in a timely manner, hiring a professional may be the best option.

Accessories

Part of your materials list should also include the deck accessories so you can properly plan your budget. This will be things like deck chairs, lights, fans and decorations. Some homeowners, for example, build in planter boxes, retractable screens or other custom items to make the deck unique.

Accessibility

You may also need to construct the decking to be accessible for more options such as wheelchairs or strollers. Ramps are a great access feature but there are other options, too. Your creativity and ingenuity will go a long way to making your front deck inviting and accessible or private and discreet. It is all up to you.

Cost and Warranty

The initial cost will vary greatly depending on the factors above, the type of installation and the contractor labor fees and much more. However, when you are planning your budget and following the consideration factors here.

Because the costs can range so much it is almost impossible to give a range here. However you should expect to pay by the linear foot for the materials and labor can easily reach $4 to $8 per square foot. For a small front deck the typical range is between $1200 and $8000, but your actual cost can be lower or even higher.

Top 7 Ideas for Front Porches on Small Houses

Here we look at some examples of front yard decks on small houses to help get your creative juices flowing. We will range between various materials, sizes and construction methods. Take a look through these decks and find your inspiration.

1. Pressure Treated Lumber/Stone

pressure treated lumber/stone

This simple deck makes great use of the space and has a no-railing set up to add dimension to the deck making it appear bigger than it is. With the support columns and simple stairs the installation cost is minimal. Instead of pressure treated lumber, stone and brick were used for the front supports.

This allows air flow without risk of corrosion or rotting with contact to the ground. The lattice prevents animals from nesting under the porch but also allows access if needed in the future. With small decorations and comfortable rocking chair seating, this is a great porch to enjoy a quiet evening outside.

Best For: Small homes on quiet roads that want the appearance of a larger deck while saving space.

2. Pressure Treated Lumber

Using solid pressure treated lumber means you don’t have to worry about ground contact, rot or water damage. Plus the lumber can be easily stained to any color you wish. Here we see a nice wide deck to the side of the front door which gives a good view without blocking any pathways.

The lumber and iron railings are also as protective as they are decorative and can prevent children and pets from falling off. There will be an access panel made on one of the sides to get under the deck if needed, but blocking air flow without using pressure treated lumber generally isn’t advised.

Best For: Homes with a larger front yard or side yard to enjoy the additional space of the wide deck.

3. Concrete, Composite

concrete - composite

This small home came with a concrete step and landing to the front door. Instead of removing that, the option was to use composite decking to add on to the existing patio to make the deck.

They have also used ground contact for joists and framing instead of support beams, made possible by not leveling the deck with the landing.

The bench style railing protects the deck and the persons on it but also offers additional seating for guests. This is also a great use of any left over material from building a larger deck in the backyard.

Best For: Small yards with not a lot of room for additional seating who still want to entertain guests.

4. Ironwood

A very simplistic design made with ironwoods to create an extravagant and elegant look is a deck made into three layers of extended stairs. The coloring also ensures that the beauty will last. If there is a stain applied the dark red coloring will stay. If not, it will fade to a beautiful silver.

The die landing allows for multiple applications of accessories. A grill on deck but away from the house, for example, ambient lighting or even heaters on colder nights. There is also enough room for guest seating, laying out or entertaining friends and neighbors.

Best For: Smaller homes with a large front yard that wish to have an elegant entrance to the home that is also practical.

5. Brick

brick

Laying brick is a skill in itself but to create a front deck with steps and a side seating area takes a lot of talent. Here you can see the results of such talent laid out to make an impact entrance that isn’t too flamboyant or over the top.

Even though it is made cold brick, the deck is inviting, warm and practical. You also get a lot of use from the seating area using the hedges as the railing saves money and materials during installation. You can also opt for ambient lighting, heating or, as seen here, planters for flowers and plants.

Best For: Those with a medium to high budget for expert bricklaying and those wanting to make use of cheaper materials.

6. Pressure Treated Lumber, Iron

Another example of pressure treated lumber. This is ideal for all ground contact parts, but there is no reason you can’t complete the entire deck from the lumber. It can be stained and painted. However you still need to seal it annually.

With the railing it gives a more pleasing aesthetic, mixing wood and iron. For mobile and modular homes with higher off-ground door frames, elevated decks need to be secure, sturdy and braced. Using pressure treated lumber will help keep costs down with the additional materials needed.

Best For: Modular and mobile homes on a more limited budget.

7. Pressure Treated Lumber, Natural Wood

pressure treated lumber-natural wood

This front deck is made with a pressure treated base, frame and support since they all have ground contact. The woodwork around the framing allows for some air flow and an access hatch to get underneath if the need arises.

The contrast between the white lattice, framing and columns and the natural wood stained a light reddish brown gives the space a larger feel. Adding iron deck chairs and a table also complete the rustic yet modern aesthetics of this front deck.

Best For: Compact designs that want to open up the space for additional room.

Front Porch Ideas Based on House Type

One thing you may have noticed from the images and descriptions above is that various house types have various decking opportunities. Even if your yard is small, a small house can have a nice deck in the front.

However, the available options for a two-story house will be different from those for mobile homes which will be different from modular homes. Whatever your situation is, there is an answer. However you need to ensure that the option works for your space, house type and desires.

The main thing to keep in mind is where your front door is, the height from the ground and your accessibility options. Beyond these things your deck can pretty much be whatever you can dream up.

Installation & Construction of Front Porches

Having your new decking installed can go one of two ways. You can perform the installation yourself as a DIY project, or you can hire it out to the professionals. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks, but only you can decide the best option for you and your needs.

DIY projects are fun and you can see your dream come to life with your own bare hands. However, it takes much longer and you need some skill and knowledge with the construction, tools and equipment that it requires.

DIY options also save money on installation, but you won’t get a labor warranty and are solely responsible should anything go wrong. You are also responsible for getting the required permits, permissions and HOA approval. 

For professional installation all of the labor, tools and equipment as well as clean up and old material removal is handled for you. In most cases they will also get the required permits and add the cost to their estimate. However, you may still be responsible for HOA approval. The hard part is finding a reliable, local contractor to do the installation.

We can help you find a local, vetted and trusted professional with our free to use tool. We have partnered with Networx to bring you the best results based on your project needs, while offering you results that are local to you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

faq front deck ideas for small houses

In this section we will answer some of the most common questions about front decks for small houses. If you have other questions you can use the comment section below the article.

Q. What is the cheapest deck to build?

  1. For a DIY project minimalist decks are the cheapest and easiest to install. This will be a low, at-grade installation. At-grade sit less than 30-inches from the top of the deck to the ground surface. In most cases you will be forced to use pressure treated lumber since it will be in contact with the ground.

Q. How much to build a front deck on a small house?

  1. The actual cost will vary based on several criteria (covered above). However for the budget-conscious, you can plan for about $5000 to $8000 for a full install and finished deck.

Q. Does a front deck or porch add resale value to the home?

  1. In most cases, yes a front deck or porch done correctly can add value to your home’s resale amount. This will be a case by case basis and depend on the materials, age of the deck as well as size and condition.

Q. Can you build a free-standing front deck?

  1. Free-standing decks sit on specialized cinder blocks and can be removed if or when needed. They are usually quite small and are found on mobile homes or smaller homes with an elevated bottom floor. In most cases they are made for front door access but able to be taken down when the house is moved or other needs arise.

Conclusion

Adding a front deck to a small house may seem counterintuitive, especially when we think about large, extravagant backyard decks. However, small welcoming decks on the front of your house can be just as enjoyable as a backyard deck.

Choosing the right materials, getting the right inspiration for your build and finding the right installation method are all challenges to overcome. Hopefully we have given you that inspiration, helped with installation methods and shown you the value of the various materials to get you started on your deck project.

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AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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