6 Free Tools to Help You Design Your Dream Outdoor Space


Whether you are planning a complete outdoor renovation or just looking to add a new fence, deck or railing, these virtual reality simulators can help you see what that final project will look like before you even begin.

This post was originally published in 2017 but has been updated with new design tool options.

Tools and guidance for your indoor renovations abound but how do you best maximize your curb appeal and return on investment on highly visible exterior projects? We have found six free tools that take the guess-work out of the planning process so you get the results you want.

Free Exterior Design Tools

  1. iDreambookTM from CertainTeed®. This comprehensive Apple® iBook tool allows you to plan all the pieces of your exterior renovation from colors and trim to roofing materials. Flip through the extensive idea book for design inspiration. Each picture, video and interactive tool in the idea book provides different ways to help you recreate the exact look for your own home. Available through iTunes for your Mac or iOS device.
    Fence visualization tool

    New Fence-it tool helps you confidently select the best fence for your yard.

  2. Deck Designer from Lowes®. Decks are a great way to add entertaining space or enjoy a beautiful view. Use this easy planner tool to create a custom design. When you’re finished you’ll receive your 3-D design and detailed building report. Going to DIY? You can bring the plan to Lowes and get help gathering together all your materials. The tool only allows you to select from composite, pressure treated or cedar materials. If you would prefer to use a low maintenance vinyl or other decking material, you’ll need to take the design to your local distributor or discuss modifications with a contractor.
  3. EverView® EverNew Railing Visualizer from CertainTeed: Sometimes you don’t need a whole new deck, just a refresh. It’s amazing what a new railing system can do. If you’re not convinced just take a look at the new EverView railing visualizer tool. It’s easy to use. First you find a background then add a deck color from there you can try out railing and baluster combinations.  Skeptical about your color choices?  The tool suggests deck and railing color combos along the way – you can even finish off your new-and-improved deck with your choice of caps and lights.
  4. Plan-a-Garden from Better Homes and Gardens®. Use drag and drop functionality to design a gorgeous outdoor landscape. Choose from 15 preloaded exteriors or upload a picture of your home then add trees, bushes, flowers, even garden accents and structures like gazebos, planters and patio tables. There are a lot more options available if you decide to upgrade but this free version is a good place to start. They’ll even hook you up with a landscaper in your neighborhood if after a few tries you decide to call in a pro.
  5. ColorView® from CertainTeed. This useful tool lets you see what your home will look like with siding, roofing and trim products – all before installing. Just want to check out how your color ideas look together? You can do that too. Select a preloaded house style then begin exploring the various color, styles and textures. Still not entirely sure? You can upload a photo of your home and turn it into a template you can manipulate directly – or for a small fee, a designer will do it for you (recommended). Remember, siding and roofing are not products that you change often so you want to choose wisely. When you’ve got the look you want, click view your selections then find a pro and the tool will put you in touch with a CertainTeed credentialed installer in your area.
  6. Fence-It Trying to visualize how a fence will change the look of your yard can be a tough. CertainTeed’s Fence-It tool has an interactive interface that offers eight different fence categories – such as privacy, semi-private, post and rail and more – plus, customization features such as fence height, color and texture.  Fence-It makes it easy to visualize a plethora of options before settling on a comfortable final decision. The tool also indicates which products are swimming pool-compliant and have WindZone™ Performance or ColorLast® Fade Protection.

Sometimes the hardest part of the project is those first few decisions. These tools help you better visualize the project ahead so you can move forward with confidence. Once you’re ready to begin, CertainTeed also offers the Find a Pro tool so you can locate a credentialed installer in your area. Time to start renovating.

CertainTeed's Find a Pro

Looking for more ways to get inspired? Check out 5 Ways to Show Your Home Some Love or Why We Renovate. 

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