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Hi Ken,

I have a question: would you happen to have a picture of what a good roof deck looks like? One that you can properly assess?

We really want a place with a rooftop deck, but we can't tell a make-shift bad one, from a make-shift good one.

Thanks, Joe


Hello Joe,

Thank you for your email.

What you're asking is way too subjective and open to a universe of interpretation. So the short answer is no. But I can provide you with some information regarding what to consider.

Roof Structure

First and foremost, the underlying roof structure must be capable of supporting the deck's weight. This should be determined by a qualified structural engineer. Where necessary, your design/build firm should be able to provide this determination/service, as well as ensuring the deck and its attendant components comply with local municipal building codes.

Traditional Wooden Lumber Decks

Traditional wood lumber decks, because of material cost, are the most common. These can be constructed with pergolas, terraces, etc. to enhance their function and aesthetic. Generally, traditional wood lumber decks are not modular in design.

Basic Wooden Rooftop Deck

Basic Wooden Rooftop Deck

Walking Surface

Ideally, the walking surface should be modular so that it can be removed to provide access to the underlying roof for assessment, maintenance, and repair.

As far as materials go, it can be anything. Modular deck systems are constructed of wood, concrete or other masonry, composite materials, etc. These are aesthetic choices that can be combined to create differing, delineated areas. Aside from being modular, the only other criteria should be weather resistance and maintenance requirements. Modular deck systems generally are designed to be weather resistant.

Modular Deck Wood

Modular Deck-Wood

Modular Deck Tile

Modular Deck-Tile


Your deck design is limited only by your imagination, your wallet, municipal building code, and the structural capacity of the underlying roof structure. This is where a qualified design-build firm can help.

Rooftop Deck Design

Rooftop Deck Design using Multiple Walking Surfaces

Chicago has a number of quality rooftop deck design/build firms. Their websites are a great starting point for design ideas. I would start here:

Chicago Roof Top Deck Designers

I hope this helps. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Kind regards, Ken

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