An increasing number of decking material manufacturers are now offering free deck design software to help both consumers and pros make layout and framing decisions, create plans, and even put together materials lists. Deck builder and frequent PDB contributor Kim Katwijk recently reviewed some of those online design programs and compiled a lengthy list of current offerings. Most of these programs require a laptop or PC for access and use, but software developers haven't overlooked mobile apps for those on the go. Here's a quick look at some of the best apps for smartphones and tablets that we've come across:

Timbertech Deck Guide—This free mobile app turns your tablet into a sales tool by allowing you to show clients what Timbertech's products look like in different colors. It features the complete line of Timbertech styles and colors.

Trex Decking and Railing Visualizer App—The mobile app allows the consumer to visualize Trex decking and railing materials on an actual deck. It includes hundreds of finishes and colors offered by the manufacturer as well as the ability to create a custom railing system based on offered products.

Weyerhaeuser Parallam Plus Deck Beam Sizer—Now available for both Android and Apple devices, this app allows users to easily determine the correct size Parallam Plus beam required for a project. It enables users to specify the size and loading of decks by entering only three data points into the program.

Decking Calculator Pro—Enter the specs for your project into this handy app and immediately and get a materials estimate that you can share with your suppliers and customers.

Tamko Decking Styles—Much like the Trex program, Tamko's Decking Styles app allows the consumer to see what Tamko's products would like as part of their deck. The latest version features easier navigation and updated product information regarding the Marquee Railing line.

Simpson Strong-Tie Dealer Locator—Run out of fasteners and accessories? Use this mobile app to find the nearest Simpson Strong-Tie dealer and get the supplies you need to get back to work fast.

Carpenter's Helper—This app comes straight from one of our Twitter followers
who suggested it as a handy way to calculate exact joist spacings. It handles everything from simple math to calculations involved with stair and wall construction. It also comes in Lite (free, less features) and Pro (costs $14.99 and includes all features).

Are there apps that you can't live without that we overlooked? Tell us on our Facebook page, Tweet at us at @prodeckbuilder, or write to us at