Advice on Building Your Own Deck

build decking

If you had previously thought that building a deck would require having worked as a professional, building multiple decks over multiple years…you’re wrong.  Anyone can qualify to build a deck, and so can you if you want to build your own.  But of course, you can’t just say “I’m going to build a deck today!” and take some timber, hammer and nails and start to build away (except in our dreams, maybe).  That is why there are some very specific techniques from professionals that you should follow, and if this is your first time building a deck on your own, it never hurts to enlist the help of an experienced friend or professional to guide you along.  Nonetheless, here are some techniques and strategies you can take when building a deck.

Start with a Sturdy Deck Design

Something you will want to start with when building a deck is to make sure that you have a sturdy stair design.  This can be accomplished by using skirt boards to strengthen wobbly stairs and railings.  Notched stair jacks are commonly used for interior stairs, as they are nailed to wall studs for extra stability.  Of course, once the building of the house is complete the jacks are hidden. However, this is not necessarily the case with outdoor deck stairs.  Regardless, using notched stair jacks are among the strongest methods to keep your stairs together.

Framing a Seam

You will also want to frame a seam; you can accomplish this by randomly staggering joints.  When framing a seam, or joints, together, you have to tactically place the joints using boards that are of the same length for each section of the deck.  Each joint must be made out of elevated decking boards that are vertical with joists on both sides.  This is a much faster process than is commonly used by other deck builders, and it makes the deck as a whole much more sturdy than had it been put together otherwise.  In addition to being much more sturdy and reliable, the deck will also look very professional made as well.  You can also use this technique for both wood and composite decks.  Composite decking actually comes in fewer variations of length, so be aware of your available options.  If you are building a composite deck, you may want to consider to seam together a sidewalk down the middle of the deck if the available lengths are too short.  But remember, that everything absolutely depends on how you want the design of your deck to be and your preferences.

Constructing a Layout Frame

This next part is extremely important to building a deck.  You will need to construct a layout frame, which positions together all of the corner posts of the deck.  This is essential to a solid construction of the deck.  For building a layout frame, you will also use joists and deck boars as you used to frame the joints together.  With the frame you will construct, you essentially also make a guide for where to dig fitting holes and line up the post bases together.  You can also screw posts into the frame to hold them in proper position, and can mark the location of the frames by driving stakes into the dig holes before construction of the actual deck.

Type of Wood

If you are building a wood deck, a large part of whether or not your deck will remain in good condition after a few years largely rests on the type of wood that you buy.  If the log posts you purchase to build your deck with have the log center in them, chances are high that they will eventually twist.  So, when you buy wood posts for your deck, you should first of all always check the physical condition of the wood to see how straight it is and if it’s in good shape.  Then, look at both ends of the post.  Again, if you see the center of the long at either end of the post, do not buy that post as it will eventually twist sooner or later.

Use a Structural Screw

Another piece of advice is to use a structural screw in place of a lag screw.  Structural screws not only last much longer than lag screws, but they are more structurally sound as well (hence the term ‘structural screws.’)  As a result, structural screws are also becoming more popular than lag screws.  Not only that, but structural screws are also much more versatile to use as well, as you can use a cordless drill to drive them in to the wood.

Deck Miters Will Always Open Up

Something else to be considered about is that deck miters will always open up sooner or later, whether it takes only a few months or a few years.  If an existing post you have for building you deck has miters in it, avoid that post if you can, but keep in mind that miters may pop up over time on your completed deck anyway.  Miters also always open up outdoors not uniformly, so use a simple joint to join the posts together if you can.

Leave A Step Below The Doors To Your House

You should also leave a step below the doors to your house.  If you leave a little step, even if it’s only a few inches, it will keep both that part of the deck and your house in good physical condition by preventing any higher chance of decay.  If you don’t make a small step, debris will enter in between the door and the deck, making it very difficult to get out and harder for the door to close and open.  In addition, if it rains or from any other source, water will get under the threshold and begin to rot both the framing and the subfloor.  Plain and simple, if you leave a three inch step between the deck and your house of only a few inches, you will save a lot of money long term, because both that part of your deck and your house will be in markedly better condition.


Want a specialist to help you build a deck? Jim’s Building Maintenance have years of experience in building decks. Contact us for a free quote today.

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