Benches are very common multipurpose deck furniture. Not only a surface for sitting or lounging, they can also divide a deck into different activity areas, and guide foot traffic.
Furthermore, they can become railings, but on a high-level deck make sure you use benches with backs.
When planning a bench, consider repeating design features from the railings, screens, and even the deck's surface pattern; this lends an orderly overall look to your deck. Alternatively, you may prefer a bench that doesn't blend in, becoming instead a focal point of your deck.
Consider the three different types of benches:
- integrated into the deck structure;
- attached to the deck
- freestanding, movable type.
There are certain standard dimensions for the conventional bench, which should be taken into account: The seat should be between 15 and 18 inches high, although sunbathing platforms may be as low as 6 to 8 inches. On a chair-height bench, the back should offer support at least 12 inches above the seat; the seat itself should be at least 15 inches deep. Angle an inclined back between 20° and 30°. Like railings, the backs of built-in deck benches can be capped; a cap protects the post ends from decay and, if it's set level rather than on an angle, provides a surface to hold food and drinks.
The legs or other supporting members for the bench must be sturdy, for adequate support, yet remain in scale with the bench design. If you're using 4x4s for legs, each pair can be spaced 3 to 5 feet; decrease this spacing if 2x4s or other lightweight materials will be used, or if the seat top needs additional support. Surfaced lumber should always be used for the seat boards.
If you want built-in benches, plan them at the same time as the actual deck. You'll need uprights to form pedestal supports for bench seats, or to serve as the frame for a bench's back; you can extend the deck's support posts up through the decking, or bolt vertical members to the joists. On the other hand, a freestanding bench can be attached to the deck at any time, using brackets or cleats.