There is no better way to enjoy time in your backyard than by hanging out on a deck. It’s never too late in the season to start planning. With a few tips, you can build a beautiful and safe deck for your backyard.
How to Build a Deck?
Planning Your Deck
As with any building project, you need to plan first. Think about how you plan to use the deck now and in the future. Budget is usually a priority so you may need to start small now. You can always plan for a bigger deck later on. It is easier to expand an existing deck to replace one completely. If you enjoy entertaining, then a deck is an ideal place to accommodate people. A deck allows for a bigger party but larger decks can be expensive. You also need to remember that bigger decks require more upkeep and may not fit in every backyard. A smaller deck is intimate and a great idea for smaller families that do not entertain large parties.
The size of your deck will also depend on the space in your yard as well as the makeup of your home. Sloped yards will force you to install grading or installing posts. These add time and engineering to the project. Raised decks also need to have structural support and railing, which also adds to the cost and engineering of the deck. Scan the yard to identify where the deck will go. Identify if there are any trees or other natural obstacles that will be in the way. If large trees or plants need to be removed, there are going to be additional costs and labor. Building around natural obstacles can provide an interesting look but will also be costly as you have to adapt your design. Discuss the design of your deck with a professional, even if you plan on doing the labor yourself. They can help identify problems and make sure you get the right materials and tools for the job. They can also offer to advise on how to save money based on the design you are interested in.
Material is one of the biggest components you need to focus on when building a deck. Real wood is beautiful and provides a unique feel but is also a challenge to maintain. Wood decks require regular cleaning, sanding, painting, and sealing throughout its life. The most popular wood options for decks include pressure-treated wood, cedar, and redwood. If choosing wood products be sure to buy those with the Forest Stewardship Council label. This indicates that the wood was harvested from a verified source that protects the forests. Composite decks do not require as much cleaning and they are less likely to crack or warp. Trex and Fiberon are the popular choices ad there are a variety of styles and budgets available. Composite decking comes in more colors and textures than a natural wood ad you can easily match it to your home’s exterior. Many composite materials are made from recycled wood or plastic so there is little impact on the environment, making them popular today.
Building a Basic Deck
The easiest deck to build is an on-grade deck. These do not require railings, stairs, or posts. You only need the essential elements of a deck; the ledger, beams, piers, and joists. Make sure you have all the tools and materials before you start construction, Buy extra lumber ad screws ad get all the necessary tools. It is recommended that you have a jigsaw, circular saw, iter saw, drill, impact driver, speed square, tape measure, long level, nail gun, sander, framing square, ad router.
- Install a ledger board: A ledger board attaches the deck to the home. Flashing needs to be installed first to prevent water damage. The ledger needs to be attached directly to the house rim joist for the most secure connection. Use an impact wrench to drive 1/2 “ lag screws through the ledge. Install flashing in the L-shaped area where the side of the house meets the ledger.
- Footings and piers: Using mason’s strings, determine the footings along with the decks outside corners. This needs to follow your layout plan you designed. Footings need to be spaced at eight feet intervals along the front rim joist. Dig footing holes below the frost line and ensure they are large enough to hold the footing. Drop the pier into the hole and secure it with dirt. Fill piers with concrete and allow them to cure for a week.
- Joists and beams: It is time to frame the deck with rim joists, interior joists, and beams. Make sure you follow building codes regarding proper spacing between joists. You will need ties, brackets, and joist hanging nails to assemble the wood pieces.
- Installation: Marine sealant and deck crews are all you need to install the decking, depending on the material you are working with. If you are using composite materials, check with the manufacturer for installation guides.
- Some helpful tips to remember when building a deck include: Leaving a step below doors. When the deck runs right up to the doors, the sliding door tracks can get debris stuck in the way, debris can easily blow into the house each time the door is opened. Also, when it rains, water can easily work its way under the threshold ad rot the flooring. Leaving a 3-inch step below doors will prevent these mishaps from occurring.
- Check the end grains: When buying lumber, avoid 4×4 planks that include the center of the tree. These can easily twist into propellers. When buying wood always look at the ends ad do not just sight them for straightness.
- Avoid miters: Wood that is installed outdoors shrinks ad can also expand. Miters will open unevenly which can make the installation job look bad. Use butt joints instead when you can. They may not look as professional as miters but in the long run, they will look better.
All decking needs regular attention, but natural wood requires more upkeep than other materials. Wood decks need to be scrubbed ad saded as well as stained or painted regularly. Plastic decks need to be washed often and any warping that is noticed needs to be repaired right away.
Deck safety is important, especially if your deck is raised off the ground. Fixing an old deck is also a cheaper option but safety is important when undertaking this task. Rotted footing can cause structural damage which prevents decks from being safely redone. If any of the deck has rotted, then you need to tear it down and build a new one. Adding to an already compromised deck is a safety hazard. You also need to follow all local building codes to ensure your deck is safely designed.