A picture frame deck is a deck that has boards running along each edge, parallel to the normal orientation of boards in the deck. The result is that if you were to look at the deck from above, these boards would look like a picture frame around it. This portion of the deck is also called a picture-frame border.

Why add a border? The goal of picture framing a deck is to give the edge of the deck one smooth appearance instead of showing all of the cut ends of the boards.This makes the deck much more appealing when you’re looking at it from any side and when taking pictures of it.The border also provides other decorative flourishes and that extra few inches of space on your deck.

Designing a Picture Frame Deck

When designing a picture frame deck, you have a few decisions to make. The material, angles, and style of picture framing can make a big impact on the look of the deck. Here are some things to consider:

  • Diagonal decks: Picture framing is a particularly good choice from decks that run diagonally from the other features of the property.
  • Materials: You can choose the same materials for the picture frame boards and the decking boards or you can make them different. Framing a light deck with a darker wood or composite material has a particularly good look.
  • Other designs: Sometimes having your framing materials also create divisions in the deck, or unique designs, can look great. Consider adding stripes with the material. Or, separate spaces like the seating and the outdoor kitchen with one plank of your picture frame material.

Can You Picture Frame an Old Deck?

Yes, assuming you have the room around your deck, you can add picture framing to it. However, it is not as simple as taking a deck board and nailing or screwing it to the outer edge of your current deck. If you were building a picture frame deck from scratch, then you would have built an extended frame to support most of the picture frame board. You would also build your posts after. So, right now, your framing and your posts (if you have any) are in the way of your project.

You will need to design and install a support structure for the picture frame border off the edge of your current deck. This structure should be securely attached to the deck and be at least twice the length of the overhang portion. Without this support, you’ll run into structural problems with the picture framing.

Design your picture frame so that two planks for the border lay half on the posts and half off. This allows you to cut notches out of both planks to fit around the post. If you instead design the frame so that the posts land squarely in the center of one board, you’d be cutting holes out of the board and lowering it down over the poles. This is very challenging to do well.

You can also have a deck professional install your picture framing if you’d prefer.