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Building a Deck

Getting Started on a Deck (page 2 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


Here's How You Do It:

Step 5: Position the Center Beam

Place a mark in the center of the box sill. This will be the location of the center beam.
Note: Before you start deck construction, you should set up a temporary worktable. For that, you'll need a couple of sawhorses, which can be built out of scrap lumber.

Homemade worktable

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 6: Prepare the Footers

Dig footers and pour with concrete. Be sure to check with a local engineer to check the different sizes and weights of footers for the particular deck. Depending on what you plan to have on the deck (a hot tub, for example), the size of the footers will vary.

Step 7: Make the Outer Support Beam, Cut the Joists

Cut a piece of 2x8 lumber the width of the deck and nail it into the box sill against the house. Then, on the other end, temporarily support the beam using a scrap piece of lumber (Image 1) and get the beam level (Image 2). Mark the joist locations every 16 inches. Cut joists to length and mark the joist locations along the box sill and beam (Image 3).

Step 8: Seat the Joists

Before installing and nailing the joists, make sure they are flush with the beam. Install the joists using a pneumatic nail gun and then later install joist hangers.
Note: Before installing a joist, check for crowning (wood either has a natural arch or dip) and install boards with the arch facing up.
Tip: Be sure to have a good level to do this job. The longer the level, the truer the readings.

Joists flush with beam on deck

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

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