Plan your deck
Planned planning will save time and money during installation while making sure that the deck complements rather than overshadows existing landscaping. Step one in deck planning involves determining its size – large enough to comfortably seat table and chairs but not so expansive that it takes up valuable space.
As part of your deck design process, start by sketching your ideas onto graph paper. Scaled drawings allow for accurate calculations when it comes to dimensions; basic plans should include site plans, plan views and elevation drawings. If drawing is not your forte there are plenty of online deck designing software programs out there which can assist in this step of the design process.
Step two in building your deck should be surveying its site. This will enable you to assess how high and where to position the deck for maximum views; keep terrain in mind as well, particularly if it features sloped terrain or tall trees nearby.
Once you have an overall idea of your layout, it’s easy to begin designing specific rooms for dining, lounging and cooking. Make sure each of these areas have enough space, as well as comfortable traffic pathways connecting them. Also keep the shape of your deck in mind; it should complement your house while offering easy access to doors and windows.
If your deck will be freestanding, no ledger board attaching it to the house will be needed; as a result, it can be built closer to the ground. Still, for added stability it would be wise to set concrete posts before laying a weed barrier that prevents grass or plants from growing through decking boards.
Lay the footings
Before digging your deck foundation, it is advisable to consult a professional surveyor in determining how deep to set the footings. They can also assist in designing the deck layout and ensure all required dimensions are met. It is also crucial that the grade of soil slopes away from your house so as to prevent water pooling under your deck and weakening its structural integrity – this way avoiding costly structural repairs in future.
Building a deck often requires a building permit, and your local permitting department will likely inspect the footing holes before pouring concrete. To be safe, follow any advice from inspectors as closely as possible.
Excavate a footing hole lower than the frost line in your area – usually four feet deep – so as to prevent your deck from heaving in winter due to water expanding and exerting upward pressure on its foundation.
Once your footing has been dug, it’s time to install the joists. Staggering them at least two or three rows apart will create an even surface and add strength; cutting angled cuts between joists will allow water to run off more freely, helping your deck remain dry.
Installation of the joists can be an arduous and mind numbing task, so take frequent breaks. As you work, ensure that every few courses of boards are standing upright and measure often to verify that your joists are parallel with the outer edge of the deck.
Installing a joist requires using the appropriate length screws; otherwise, your joists won’t be properly supported and may sag or even break. Also make sure you use “decking screws,” which have special coating to resist corrosion while providing extra holding power for the joists.
Lay the joists
Unless your deck will be no higher than 6 feet off of the ground, joists are necessary for its construction. To maximize results, arrange your joists with their crowns facing upward. This will help shed water off of your deck surface more efficiently while making future smoothing work much simpler. A general recommendation suggests spacing no more than 12 joists apart.
To support the joists on your deck site, dig holes approximately 150mm square and 150mm deep at each position on it. Fill each of these holes with quick-drying concrete up to just above ground level using spirit levels or straight edges as needed, to make sure each pad is level with each other (use spirit levels for this step). Finally, cover this area with weed control fabric followed by 40-50mm gravel covering.
Before beginning to lay the deck joists, first square up your starter plank by driving stakes or batter boards around its perimeter. This will establish where your deck and any corner posts will go; we suggest placing batter board stakes with nails at least a distance outside their desired locations as moving them in order to drill post hole would undo all your prior layout work.
Once your frame is squared away, you can begin installing the rim joists that will form the outer portion of your decking subframe. Lay them out according to your design, using joist connectors if necessary and bolted onto your house as necessary for support if your deck is wide enough for more than one set of joists. If this proves necessary due to increased deck width requirements, ledger bolted onto house will need be placed next to it for support on one end only of your decking subframe structure.
When it comes to securing the joists, coach screws are ideal as they sit flush against the wood surface. Drill a pilot hole slightly wider than the shank of your screw and ensure it won’t go through into the joist itself before driving it home with a socket and ratchet set.
Once all joists are secured, add blocking where necessary to prevent your deck from sitting too high. Secure it to the ledger with lag screws before pre-drilling any necessary holes and installing washers where applicable.
Lay the decking
Decking is what you walk on, and there are various materials from natural woods like cedar and redwood, composite materials (blended wood and plastic), PVC, etc. It is important to choose boards that have been pressure treated to make them suitable for outdoor use and seal it afterwards with waterproof stain or oil for additional protection from weather elements.
Before beginning to lay decking, always consult with the local utility company and establish whether there are any buried lines near where you plan to build. Even if there aren’t any lines buried there yet, it is always better to be safe!
Before beginning construction of your deck, ensure the concrete pads are all level with one another by using a spirit level to assess them. If they’re not, fill any low spots with more concrete. Mark out where your sleeper panels will go using masking tape or pencil and cut to length before marking. It is vitally important that accurate measurements are made as miscut timber can make an unstable deck structure. Once all your timber has been prepared for assembly, construction of your deck can begin!
Before beginning construction on an extension to your existing deck, it’s crucial that you develop a plan. Determine whether you want a same-level, step-down or step-up extension based on what kind of extension is being created and then secure screw joist hangers or post bases into existing substructure support beams with screws for easier framing of this kind of extension.
Installing decking requires fastening it to joists with either screws or nails from above or hidden fasteners from below – either screws, nails or hidden fasteners is best; hidden fasteners provide self-gaping and look neater; you should select the fastening system recommended by your deck manufacturer for optimal results and always wear safety equipment, including ear plugs when operating power tools.