The 13 Steps to Building a Deck

The 13 Steps to Building a Deck

Building a deck is a home improvement project that the average homeowner is more than capable of doing. It generally involves a series of simple sequential steps and involves basic carpentry skills. Deck building has become much simpler with the advent of home improvement retail outlets that offer how-to-do-it clinics, a wide variety of deck related building materials, tool and equipment rentals and even free deck design consultations. Because the construction process of deck building takes place outdoors, normal family home life is not really affected as it would be for some interior renovation. All of the mess is completely outdoors and the deck building process can extend from weekend to weekend without any real problems.

Most deck construction projects have 6 building elements: concrete footings, wood or concrete posts, a ledger support board, beams, joists and decking. There are also 3 popular options: railings, benches and stair steps.

The actual deck building process involves 13 procedures:

1. Designing the deck

2. Obtaining the required building permits

3. Buying the materials

4. Preparing the site

5. Laying out the footing locations

6. Setting the footings

7. Installing the ledger board

8. Installing the support posts

9. Attaching the beams

10.Installing the joists

11.Nailing or screwing on the decking boards

12. Trimming the decking

13. Installing any options such as railings, benches and stair steps.

It’s a wise decision to consult with the municipal building department so that your proposed deck conforms to local construction bylaws. The real fun starts in making choices regarding deck materials, possibilities for decking patterns, railing styles as well as the type and placement of steps. Once these decisions have been made, your design checked and your permit approved, it’s simply a matter of developing a materials list and ordering the materials to be delivered.

Site preparation is the next step. Outdoor furniture, stone slabs and other items need to be removed from the site prior to construction. Using the 3,4,5 layout process the locations of the footings can be clearly marked. Then it’s hole digging time. Usually it’s a choice between hand digging the postholes below the frost line or having a posthole machine do the work. Once the holes are dug, they are filled with concrete and support hardware is fixed in place.

While the concrete is hardening the ledge board can be attached to the house. Next, the support posts are connected to the support post hardware. Double beams are connected to the ledger board and the support posts. Joists are then installed at either 16 or 24 inch centers. Railing support posts are added as is the framework for any skirting to be added enclosing the deck perimeter.

At this point, the decking can be installed either with nails or screws. Then it’s simply a matter of trimming the outer edges of the deck boards and installing a facing board to hide the cut ends of the deck boards.

Steps whether on the outside of the deck or inset can then be constructed. The same goes for the railing system that has been chosen. Finally, the skirting can be installed to prevent small animals from creating problems in the future.

All that is left to do is apply a sealant and/or stain to the deck to complete the project. Then it’s time for the family to add outdoor furniture, the good old barbecue and a couple of container plants to create a very special outdoor living area the whole family can enjoy.

All it took was a couple of weekends of work and 13 simple steps and some basic carpentry skills to create that deck of your dreams.

Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of “How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish”. To Discover More About
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