How do you build one? While complicated, intricate plans may be best left to the pros, a simple deck is very feasible for many do-it-yourselfers.
Here’s what’s involved.
SAFETY & REGULATIONS
Before you start any project, it’s important that you know how to do it safely and follow any applicable rules for construction projects in your area.
Make sure you know and follow the safety instructions for the tools you’ll be using, including using protective equipment like safety glasses and gloves when needed.
You should also check with your city or county’s building department to make sure you’ve got the right permits and know the requirements for your deck. Many municipalities regulate the footing depth, materials and location of your deck, including setback distances from utilities or property lines.
Once you know the applicable rules and have an idea about the deck you want to install, you can start making more concrete plans for turning that dream into reality.
Start with basic measurements and a materials list. Every deck will need joists, decking and some type of footing to keep it anchored over the ground. You may also need rails, steps, low-voltage lighting or other accessories depending on your vision for the project.
A good home improvement store can make your plans much easier. They’ll have an experienced staff happy to help you make the right choices and estimate your total costs for the project.
Every great deck starts with a strong foundation, but the exact requirements for it can vary greatly depending on your soil, climate and local regulations.
Some cities require deep footings to be dug to help it withstand the soil movement that results from freezing temperatures in the winter. While it’s more work to dig deep footings, it’s worth it to have a deck that lasts longer and is safer for carrying weight.
Other sites may only require pre-cast concrete blocks with minimal surface prep. Your building codes — along with smart local practices that you can learn by asking the pros — will determine the type of footings and piers needed for your project.
Pressure-treated beams will form a frame for your decking, and it’s important that they’re all straight and cut precisely in length. The more precision you achieve at this stage, the better the finished project will look.
Before you attach your decking to the joists, it’s a good idea to waterproof the bottom side. You won’t be able to fully coat the bottom surface any other time, so take advantage of the opportunity if you want your deck to last.
Lay the decking planks with the waterproofed side down, then attach them to the joists with screws or nails designed for outdoor use. Small spacers can help to keep the gaps consistent.
Once the planks are all in place, install end caps — typically 1×6 wood — to give it a finished appearance.
The process of staining is fairly easy and can add beauty and value to your home with a carefully chosen, tasteful color. The hard part is often the prep work, including sanding and cleaning the wood before you apply it, something that can make a big difference in applying a consistent color and getting a lasting, weatherproof surface.
Carefully follow the instructions for the stain and seal products you selected, including all the preparation steps.
Once your deck is in place, the fun part begins: getting it ready for family get-togethers and parties with your friends.
A new deck is the perfect chance to get a new grille, outdoor furniture set, lighting and other accessories that help you make the most of your investment.
With a little work, you can turn your backyard into a fun oasis that adds value and enjoyment for years to come.