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DIY Deck Building is a Great Way to Add Value to Your Home

DIY Deck Building is a Great Way to Add Value to Your Home

Many homeowners would like to build a deck on their home but are intimidated by the costs and process. At Decks.com we encourage the DIY deck builder. Making a deck can be a fun and rewarding experience and is a great way to save money.

Many homeowners would like to build a deck on their home but are intimidated by the costs and process. At Decks.com we encourage the DIY deck builder. Finishing a deck can be a fun and rewarding experience and is a great way to save money.

The first step to building a deck is to come up with a design that matches your home. Decks.com recommends looking at deck photos to get some ideas. Consider the size and shape of deck that would look best on your home.

The next step is to draw or purchase deck plans to submit for building permits. Decks.com features over 600 unique professional deck plans for you to choose from. The site plans include framing plans, footing layouts, material list, and a DIY deck building details guide.

After you have obtained a building permit from your local cities building department you will need to order your deck materials. Pressure treated wood will be used for the framing. You will need to choose between wood and alternative materials such as composite decking or vinyl decking for the flooring. There are a variety of railing options including composite railing systems, metal balusters, cable railling, and glass rails. You will also need to purchase deck hardware such as joist hangers and fasteners for assembling the deck.

The website recommends that DIY builders should have the following tools: Claw Hammer, Circular Saw, Miter Box, Screw Gun, Ladder, Tape Measurer, Level, square.

Most deck building projects will require 2 or 3 people for construction.

The first step in construction is to install the ledger board. This is a critical step. Make sure you use flashing to prevent water from penetrating the house wall. Use (2) 1/2″ lag bolts installed every 16″ on center to attach the ledger board.

The next step is to layout and install the frost footings. You can use batter boards or cloth tape measurers to triangulate the footing locations. You will need to dig holes below the frost line and have a footing inspection before continuing. The footing diameter will need to match the size indicated on your plan. Most decks use 12″ or 16″ diameter footings. Hand digging footings is hard work especially if you live in a cold climate or have rocks in your yard. Some DIY deck builders rent a hand auger to assist in digging footings. You will want to set cardboard sono tubes into the holes to prevent a collapse while you are working. You can then mix bags of quickcrete in a wheelbarrow with a shovel and a garden hose to the proper consistency and pour the wet concrete into the holes. Set a concrete anchor in the center of the footing and allow the concrete to cure.

The next step is to install the deck support posts and beams. Most decks use 6×6 pressure treated wood posts to support the deck. The beams are usually 2-2×10 boards nailed together. You can install the 6×6 posts using an adjustable post base connector from Simpson Strong Tie attached to the concrete anchor set in your footing. This positive connection will keep the post in place. The top of the post can be notched to allow you to set the beam into place and attached using (2) 1/2″ carriage bolts. Use a level to make sure the beam is straight.

With your ledger board and beams in place you can begin filling in the deck by installing the joists using joist hangers. Begin by framing the perimeter of the deck. Install a joist hanger at the house and install a hurricane tie to attach the joist to the beam. Joists should be layed out every 16″ on center or 12″ on center for diagonal decking. Make sure you are using the proper nails for the hardware. Deck hardware should be triple galvanized aluminum or stainless steel. We recommend installing blocking at the mid span of joists over 12′ long.

The next step is to install the decking. Most deck builders overhang the decking over the frame by about 1/4″ to leave a reveal. Some builders will install a fascia board to cover the pressure treated rim board. In this case the decking should hang past the fascia board. Decking can be layed out so that the edges run wild past the edge of the deck. You can then run a chalk line across the edge and cut off the tails with a circular saw to achieve a clean edge. Install the decking with screws using a hand held screw gun. If you are installing composite decking you should use special composite decking screws that have reverse threads that keep the plastic material from “mushrooming”. Some composite decking materials have a groove that is used for hidden fasteners or clips that secure the decking without face mounted screws.

The next step is to layout the stairs. Installing stairs is typically the most difficult part of DIY deck building. You will need to measure the total height of the deck and use the decks.com stair calculator to lay out the stair stringers. The IRC code requires stair treads to be a minimum of 10″ and the rise must be less than 8″. Deck stair stringers are usually cut from 2×12 pressure treated wood. Most stair treads use 2 deck boards. Once you cut one stair stringer based on the results from the decks.com calculator you can use it as a template to cut your remaining stair stringers with a circular saw.

The final step is to install the guard rails. Attach the rail posts to the deck frame using lag bolts with washers. Wood decks will usually use 4×4’s for rail posts, 2×4 for top and bottom rails, 2×6 for a flat top railing, and 2×2 material or aluminum tubes for balusters or pickets. Compostie decking systems offer kits for railings that are available in 6′ sections. Handrails are required for stairs.

Once the deck is completed you will need a final inspection. Afterwards if you used wood for the decking and railings, decks.com recommends applying an oil based stain immediately to prevent warping and cracking in the sun. For more information visit decks.com


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