Build Your Own Deck in 6 Easy Steps

Build Your Own Deck in 6 Easy StepsWith basic carpentry skills, you can build a deck for your home. The construction is simple and the actual work is straightforward: A typical deck consists of the deck, railings and stairs. With these three elements, you can tackle any deck design.

1. Plan your deck

Consider your family, the planned use and the style of the home. Discover your dream deck in a magazine and determine if it will fit your house. Create a list of things you want a deck for. What kind of living spaces do you want? What kind of storage spaces, if any, do you want?

2. Develop plans 

Buy a set of building plans or do-it-yourself with a computer program. With the DIY decking templates available, you can create a deck with all the details you need. You need a working set of plans that you can refer to when building the deck. Take the plans to the community inspector who issues permits if it is required and submit plans for approval. It is usually a simple matter of talking to an inspector who will check your DIY decking plans against the building code requirements and ask questions to insure you have a general knowledge of the process.

3. Solve design problems on the site 

The design problems to solve include attaching the deck to the house and keeping it level as it extends away from the house. This involves walking around the site and doing the measurements like establishing the ledger board height on the back of the house.

Establish a porch corner at the house edge and stake out a string four feet beyond the planned depth of the porch. Run a crossing string that will represent the end joist of the porch. Calculate the right angle of the deck from the house. The basic math includes calculating the hypotenuse length on the string at a four-foot mark from the house. Measure three foot along the house and use the tape measure to find the mark on the string four feet from the house. That length should equal five feet to have a 90-degree right angle established.

If it is not five foot, move the four-foot string placement until it is. This will square your deck against the house. Where the two strings cross, push in a stake or spray paint the location of the first cement pier. Refer to your plans for the number of cement piers, then measure and mark each one across the back of the house.

4. Develop the Foundation 

If you live in a northern climate, it is important to dig holes for cement piers that are deeper than the frost line to keep your porch stable during the change of seasons. On the other hand, in warm climates, simply dig a hole about 18 inches deep. A cement pier is cement poured into an 18 inch round or square form.

Referring to the pier locations you marked with paint or a stake in the yard, dig a hole in each location large enough to hold the cement form. Set the form in the hole. Layer the bottom with rocks. With a cement mixer, combine the dry cement and water and pour fresh cement into form. After a week, the cement will be dry enough to attach metal hangers with large masonry screws. The metal hangers attach to the deck posts.

5. Construct the deck frame

Bolt and brace the deck posts into the attached metal hanger at each cement pier. Use whatever bracing method works to stand up the posts. As you work, keep a level handy and check it before anything is attached permanently.

Notch the top of the posts or drill holes for bolts and attach the bearing crossbeams. If you are building a second story porch, use the notch method. Next, lay the floor joists across the beams and attach an end joist. Working from the outside in toward the house, attach the decking material.

6. Railings and Stairs

Moving on, establish a corner post for railings, and using your plans, calculate the number of balustrades you need for the length of railing. Attach the top and bottom rails and nail in the balustrades, using loose lumber to brace the railings in place before attaching.

Stairs are necessary when the porch sits higher than eight inches off the ground. Depending on how high the porch stairs climb, you may have to dig cement piers for stairs. Rise and run numbers are determined by your community’s code, so check the code for requirements. The total rise is the height form the ground to the porch deck. The total run is the length from the end of the porch to the step furthest from the porch. Generally, you want single runs of about a foot and risers of about six or seven inches. With the rise number and a run number, you can calculate the distance from the porch that the stair starts. Use a framing square and cut the stringers, the run pieces and the rise pieces if your plans call for riser pieces.

The deck construction, the rails and stairs are the basic elements of DIY decking. When you know how to construct these elements, you can add different levels, connect them with stairs and install elaborate railings to make your outdoor deck simple or sophisticated.

WA Timber Decking, a Perth based Timber Decking specialist supply decking timber and decking supplies for the handyman, DIYer and builder.

Editorial Team
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