The Thirteen Steps Needed to Build a Deck


No matter how simple your project is, you have to have a plan to go with it. Follow the following steps to construct a beautiful deck: Consult your local building inspector; do the preliminary planning;  decide the shape, type and size of deck; estimate materials needed and acquire the tools;  squaring with strings; prepare the site; place the ledger/header board;  trace and dig holes for footings;  fasten beams to posts; affix joists;  fit desk boards; connect posts for railing; and erect steps.

Now that you have a beautifully designed home, what you need to focus to are the do-it-yourself projects to add beauty to a bland backyard. One way is to build a deck. The best news about constructing one is that it is easy with a straightforward design and you don’t even have to hire a professional deck builder to do it for you as long as you can hammer a nail, saw on a straight line and be good at leveling, then your building experience is sure to be of no major trouble. Now let’s start building a deck by following these steps.

Consult your local building inspector

Before starting any real work, discuss your plans with your local building inspector. You have to acquire a permit to avoid any legal penalty. You may have to prepare the blueprints and design so that the inspector can give you his approval. Also, anticipate a fee if your plans meet the constructing code and local regulations. Once you get the permit, you have to place it on your constructing site. Since this first step needs some special skill, you may choose to hire a contractor.

Do the preliminary planning

There are several influential factors to decide the location and design of your deck. These are the following: anticipated usage, air currents, compatible standing structure, sunlight, privacy, view, security, access to home, terrain and other personal necessity and preferences.

Decide the shape, type and size of deck

This would be the tough part wherein you have to settle on the design. In doing so, you have to consider the function, structural steadiness and appearance. A great tip is to look at different decks of some friends and neighbors. You may also refer to books, magazines and other media.

Estimate materials needed and acquire the tools

After settling on the final kind, shape and size of the deck you are about to build, it is now time to estimate the materials necessary for building. You may not have to do this if you are using a ready-made design but if otherwise, keep in mind that it is better to overestimate since you can use the excess in making benches, planter boxes and such. You can save money through selecting standard lumber sizes and lengths to its extent.

Make sure to calculate the dimensions so you don’t run out of materials. On the other hand, you have to acquire tools such as circular saw, tape measure, chalk line, combination square, hand saw, power drill, hammer, level, and framing square. To make sure one’s safety, you may need to have gloves, dust mask, and goggles. You may also need accessories and connectors such as lag screws, carriage bolt, expansion bolt, ring shank nails, spiral nails, joist hangers and post fasteners.

Squaring with strings

Use string and batterboards when marking off the deck to make sure that it is square. Batterboards are hammered to the ground just outside the corners where the deck is to be built. The string will be a guide to picture out the size and appearance of the final result. The squares will also help in excavation and placing the post. Though it will look smaller compared to when it is completely constructed.

Prepare the site

To start with, remove sod using a spade or sod cutter and uncover an area 2 feet bigger than the deck. To avoid unwanted vegetation to creep up the deck, spread a sheet of polyethylene film on the area. When embedding posts, you have to slit this to give way. After the installation of the posts, cover up with gravel, pebbles or maybe wood chips.

Place the ledger/header board

This step is only applicable if you are attaching the deck to an existing edifice. Its placement defines the correct height and is horizontally-positioned. It should be fastened on the wall using lag screws or bolts. To prevent water behind the ledger, make use of aluminum flashing.

Trace and dig holes for footings

The minimum depth in normal soil is 24 to 36 inches deep although you have to rely on the height of the column and depth of the frost line. Posts should be deeper than this to prevent hauling during freeze and defrosting cycles. If you have a lot of holes to dig and in a hurry, you may rent a power posthole digger.

Fasten beams to posts

Locate the height of the preferred deck floor on the posts using a string and level. You can determine the correct height for securing the top of the beam to the post by subtracting the thickness of the joist. Keep post and beam flush or nail down the beam to the post.

Affix joists

Joists are affixed to the house structure with joist hangers or rest on the beam. It may be braced be a ledger board.

Fit deck boards

Use hot-dipped zinc-coated 16-penny nails to install deck boards. The surface of the deck is an essential part of the project since it is the most visible. You may cut and trim excess boards after nailing them on a straight line.

Connect posts for railing

The railing can either be a continuation of the posts that serve as a support of the deck, or it may be connected through bolts to the outer joist or joist extensions. The security of the people who’ll be staying on the deck is enhanced through the railings.

Erect steps

To define the number of steps to be constructed, measure the vertical rise and settle on the best riser size for each single step. You may purchase precut steps at some lumberyards.

This gives the basics on constructing a back yard deck. It is essential to have a complete and polished plan because this will help you anticipate any forthcoming problems. Have fun with your deck.

I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!

Melissa @ Mommy Living the Life of Riley!
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