Basic Deck Building Instructions
If you want to learn basic deck building, there are three steps you need to know. They are plan, build, and trim. I will explain these concepts in this article and show you how to build that deck you always wanted.
The first step in basic deck building is to plan. Determine where the deck is to be located and what the finished product will look like. Take measurements to determine the exact size you want, where the steps are going to be, if there are any doors to consider and where you want the railing to go. Now decide where and how everything will fit together.
Draw a plan showing dimensions, including the details such as the direction the deck boards will run. Is the new deck to be attached to the existing house or not? It is much easier if it is not attached. There will be fewer problems in the future.
Now plan the foundation, including supports. If you have any questions about how to size the support beams, someone at your local lumberyard with access to span tables can assist with the answers. ALWAYS make the beams large enough to support the load you anticipate.
The second step in basic deck building is to build the deck. Dig the holes for the support posts. Be sure to measure carefully as the posts are difficult to move after the concrete has set. Place the header joist at the ends and connect the joist to them either with joist hangers or by nailing through the header joist.
Make sure everything is square and level. Nail the deck boards to the joist, keeping them 1/8 inch apart. Start at the outside edge and work toward the house. Always get the first deck board straight and fit all other deck boards to it.
Nail every deck board with two nails at every joist to help keep things straight and keep the boards from cupping and warping. Cut the ends of the deck boards even with each other by using a chalk line to determine a straight line. The floor now is complete.
To make the railing, take the support post and trim them to a height of 35 inches or whatever the local requirements are in your area. Cut two supports to fit horizontally between the posts. Now cut balusters to fit from top to bottom. Nail the balusters into the previously cut support pieces 3 ½ inches apart. Stand them up and toe nail into the post.
Cap off with a clean (no knots) deck board on top of the post. Cut the corners at a 45 degree angle for a finished look.
The third and final step in basic deck building is to trim. Put some lattice around the bottom to keep critters and children out. Stain or wood sealer should be applied after the deck has cured.
If you follow these basic instructions of plan, build, and trim, you should be able to build a wood deck at your home. Check to determine if permits are required. If they are required, the building inspector will make sure you are in compliance with local building codes.