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Building a Deck

Getting Started on a Deck (page 1 of 2)

From the plan drawings to the joists, what you do at the beginning when building a deck can make a difference in both the ease in completing the project and the life of the finished project.

More in Outdoors

  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $2,500 - $5,000

  • Difficulty

    Hard

Here's How You Do It:

Make sure to get the necessary permits before you start building. Also, be sure to check your local building codes to find out the different sizes and weights of footers for your deck. Depending on what you plan to have on the deck (a hot tub, for example), the size of the footers will vary.

Step 1: Decide on the Decking Materials

Many retail outlets will let the consumer pick out the boards for a deck project. But if you can't do that, have an understanding that you can return any warped or unsatisfactory lumber. Pick lumber that is straight and has few imperfections. Have the lumber delivered as close to the job site as possible and keep it covered when not in use. For this particular project, we used pressure-treated pine.

Step 2: Determine Size and Draw Up a Plan

It's important to draw up a set of plans that takes all of your uses for the deck into consideration. This will help in determining the amount of materials needed.
Multiply the length by width of the deck, taking into account stairways and railings to come up with how much decking material you will need. To figure out how much material will be needed for the structural elements, it's best to seek professional advice from the home center regarding what size boards and posts based on your specific plans. Always add 10 percent to the final figure for waste.

Step 3: Install Flashing to Protect the House

It's important to install flashing to protect the siding of your house before starting the deck. Install flashing around the entire perimeter where the deck will meet the house. Bend 2 inches of the flashing at a 90-degree angle and cut out for any doorway or window frames. Flashing must be cut to fit under doors and window frames, based on the measurement of the door or window width. The best way to work with flashing is to use tin snips to score and cut it. You may have to remove existing nails to be able to slide the flashing under the siding, then re-nail into place.

Installing flashing for a deck

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 4: Prepare the Box Sill

Install furring board to the side of the house so the box sill will clear the basement or house foundation surface. Furring boards are long thin strips of wood used to make existing surfaces support the finished surface, in this case the deck. Use a spacer (a piece of the same wood that will be used on the deck) and place it up against the bottom of the siding. Then attach the top of the box sill to that mark.

Using a spacer during building a deck

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

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