Creating a Deck Inlay

Reference Number: KB-01016
Last Modified: June 23, 2016

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier


I would like to create some decorative deck boards within my deck. How can I do this?


Creating a decorative accent within a deck can be done by using a platform hole and polyline solid.

To create decorative deck boards within a deck

  1. First, Open the plan in which you would like to create the inlay, or start a New Plan .

    • For the purposes of this example, a new, blank plan is used.

  2. Select Build> Terrain> Create Terrain Perimeter to create a Terrain Perimeter

  3. Within the existing deck space, of If no deck exists draw one with the railing tools.

    For the purposes of this example a Polygon shaped deck is created by selecting Build> Railing & Deck> Polygon Shaped Deck from the menu.

    • Specify Number of Sides and Side Length

    • Click OK and then click in the plan to place the deck.

    • Select the Deck room and use the Open Object  tool to open the Deck Specification dialog.

    • On the Structure panel set the floor height to 24" and click OK.

  4. Once your deck is is created, select the CAD menu and choose the appropriate shape that you would like to begin with for your inlay.


    If you want the object to be centered in the deck room, use the Center Object edit button to center it along the appropriate deck railing in floor plan view.

    • You can start with any type of closed polyline, such as a rectangular polyline, and use the Change Line/Arc and Break Line edit tools to create nearly any shape. If you are unfamiliar with this process, you should review the Editing Closed-Polyline Based Objects section of your Chief Architect Reference Manual.

  5. Select the CAD polyline that you have created, and click on the Convert Polyline edit tool to display the Convert Polyline dialog, move the radio button to Hole in Floor Platform and click OK.

  6. The Polyline Specification dialog will display next, click OK once more.

  7. Select 3D> Create Perspective View> Full Overview to see our progress so far.

To fill the hole with a polyline solid

  1. Select File> Close to close the Perspective Full Overview and return to the 2D floor plan view.

  2. Use the Select Objects tool to select the polyline, and click on the Copy and Paste in Place edit tool to create a copy of the selected polyline at the same location as the original.

  3. The copy you have just created remains selected, so you can perform additional operations on it, and for the purposes of this example:

    • Click the Convert to Plain Polyline edit button to convert the platform hole back into a 2D CAD object.

    • Click the Convert Polyline edit button.

    • In the Convert Polyline dialog, select the Polyline Solid option and click OK to display the Polyline Solid Specification dialog.

  4. In the Polyline Solid Specification dialog:

    • Specify the Height to be the height of the deck. in this example 24".

    • Specify Thickness of the polyline solid to be the thickness of the deck planking, in this example 1 1/8"

    • Then go to the Materials panel to specify the type of wood material that you want for your inlay, then click OK.

    • This creates polyline solid that precisely fits inside of the hole we created in the deck.

  5. Now, use the Select Objects tool to select the deck room and click the Build Deck Framing edit tool.

    • In addition to joists and rim joists, deck planking will be generated and beams and posts may be created, all based on the settings in the deck's Room Specification dialog.

    • If a floor is present below the one that the deck room is created on, the framing will be created there. If needed, beams may be generated with posts beneath them, if specified. When terrain is present, the posts will have footings, again, if specified.

    • If a floor is not present below the Deck, framing will be generated on the same floor as the room. Beams may be created but posts will not.

    • Deck framing and planking are placed on the "Framing, Deck Framing" and "Framing, Deck Planking" layers, which are often turned off in floor plan view.

    Note: Advanced Deck Framing will frame around a platform hole, but will not generate support for objects inside that hole. You will need to edit or add framing for this purpose.

Finally, you can also create multiple polyline solids to fill in the space of the hole that you created for more intricate and elaborate decorative deck board designs.

To create more elaborate polyline solids

  1. In the image below, we have applied different Fill Styles to each of the polyline solids in floor plan view, to make them easier to distinguish from one another when editing in floor plan view.


  2. The Transform/Replicate edit tool is helpful for creating normal, as well as reversed copies of a polyline solid, once you have the first one created.

    It is useful to draw additional CAD lines as reference and snap points.Once drawn place these lines on a separate layer and lock that layer so that you will not accidentally select them when manipulating the Polyline Solids.

    Also, If you would like to save this inlay for future use you can do so by converting the polyline solids into an Architectural Block and adding it to the library. See the Related Articles section for instructions on "Editing Architectural Blocks"

  3. For information on customizing library materials, such as to rotate a material to have decorative boards meet as in the image below, please see online Knowledge Base article 'Customizing a Library Material' in the Related Articles section below.