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Building a Deck

PLANNING YOUR WOOD DECK

Decks are a great extension of your existing space. They provide an attractive outdoor area for entertaining friends and family and can also be a space when you need some personal time to escape. Building a deck does not have to be a daunting task. With careful planning, the project can be accomplished within the set timeline and budget.

1. RESEARCH

  • Call 811 for underground utilities (water, gas, sewer)
  • Check with homeowners’ associations, insurance and municipal code officials on building, permits, inspections and existing requirements
  • Check the depth of the frost line in residential area

2. THINGS TO THINK ABOUT / CONSIDER

  • Budget
  • Goal/purpose of finished deck – home expansion, entertaining, private retreat
  • Size and shape – free standing or attached? single or multi-level?
  • Location – terrain of area, slope grade, rain flow
  • Placement – accessibility (point of entry, stairs etc.)

3. SKETCH PLAN

  • Consider deck features (lighting, heating – fireplace, built-in seats, awning/pergola etc.)
  • Allow room for obstacles (exterior AC units, windows)
building a deck

THINGS YOU NEED TO BUILD YOUR WOOD DECK

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

  • Gloves, goggles and mask
  • Work boots
  • Outdoor appropriate GFCI-protected power cords

DECK BUILDING TOOLS

  • Drill and drill bits
  • Tape measure
  • Level or string level
  • Framing square
  • Mason line with string and plumb bob
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Posthole digger/Power auger (rent-able)
  • Circular saw/Miter saw (rent-able)
  • Hammer, Nail gun/Screw gun (rent-able)

DECK BUILDING MATERIALS
(QUANTITY DEPENDS ON SIZE)

  • Treated deck boards (5/4”x6; 2x6)
  • Treated posts (4x4; 6x6)
  • Treated wood balusters
  • Post caps
  • Treated shims
  • Treated stair stringers (if needed)
  • Treated treads (if needed)
  • Joist hangers
  • Post anchors
  • Gravel
  • Concrete
  • Tube forms
  • Approved deck screws and nails (hot-dipped galvanized or stainless-steel)

BUILDING YOUR WOOD DECK

1. Prepare site and house (if deck is attached to house)

  1. Mark the deck area
  2. Strip sod
  3. Remove siding, add waterproof layer and mount ledger board (use flashing to reinforce waterproofing)
  4. Mark placement of joists on ledger board
  5. Locate, dig (12” below frost line to avoid shifting due to cold weather) and pour footings (quantity depends on size, shape and weight of deck) after inspection is done

2. Install deck

  1. Set posts and install beams and joists
  2. Lay down deck boards and trim edges
  3. Build or install pre-made stairs (if needed)

3. Install railing

  1. Required for decks above 30” from grade
  2. Mount posts and attach top/bottom deck rails
  3. Install balusters (maximum 4” space between each baluster for safety)
  4. Attach railing cap and post caps (optional)

4. Finish deck

  1. Stain
    1. i. Clear – allows grain to show
    1. ii. Semi-transparent (or opaque) – imparts some color tinting but keeps grain visible
      iii. Solid – covers the grain like paint, may chip and peel in time
  2. Paint – unlimited color options and covers the grain, may chip and peel in time
  3. Waterproof sealant
building a deck

tips of proper installation

  1. Butt deck boards tightly as shrinkage will naturally occur as the wood dries out
  2. Drill pilot holes to minimize splitting when nailing near the edge/end of the boards
  3. Always use the best-looking side of a deck board, nailing thinner boards to thicker boards
  4. Use building code-approved, hot-dipped galvanized stainless-steel fasteners to prevent corrosion of the fasteners
  5. Use a brush-on wood preservative (copper naphthenate formulations) for cut ends; deck stains and sealers do not provide adequate protection

tips of proper finishing

  1. Allow wood to dry thoroughly before applying a finish (stain or paint) or sealer to prevent peeling, flaking or blistering from poor adhesion and/or mold development under the coating. Wood should be allowed to dry for at least 60 days (potentially longer for wetter climates). Left unstained, wood decking will eventually fade to a gray appearance and damage to wood fibers may occur from UV rays.
  2. Ensure surface is clean and dry to prevent poor bonding/penetration of finishing products.
  3. Use high quality stains and paints that are specifically intended for your specific application to help minimize fading and reduce the likelihood of fabric / skin / footwear discoloration.

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