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How to Build a Backyard Deck

Building a deck can be a pricey option that requires careful planning, special tools and a lot of material.

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Step 1: Prepare for the Project

Always check with local authorities about permits and regulations. Your homeowners association may have requirements about changes to the outside of your home, so make sure to clear your plans with them before proceeding. Always wear protective eyewear when working with power tools.

Step 2: Plan the Dimensions

After measuring the dimensions of the yard, Adam helps center the placement of the deck using strings tied to wood stakes (Image 1). Continually measure and adjust the stakes until the strings form a square and level representation of the deck dimensions (Image 2).

Step 3: Mark the Ground

Next, using bright spray paint and little orange flags, they mark the ground to represent the deck's four corners and midpoints. These markings indicate the placement of the deck's eight concrete support posts, called caissons.

mark the ground for concrete support posts

Step 4: Break Ground

Temporarily remove the stakes and string and then use a power auger to quickly bore 15-inch holes at the marked locations (Image 1). Remove any remaining dirt using a posthole digger (Image 2).

Step 5: Form the Concrete

If the yard slopes slightly away from the house, the lower holes need extra height to reach the level string. To remedy this, cut a cardboard caisson tube to length and rest the segments on the lower holes. These now serve as concrete forms.

create concrete forms

Step 6: Pour Concrete

After mixing a batch of concrete, shovel it into the holes and lop off the excess using a spare wood stake (Image 1). Before allowing the concrete to cure for 48 hours, embed a J-bolt into each caisson (Image 2). Eventually, this will help tie down the deck.

Step 7: Start the Deck Frame

Start by forming the perimeter and a center beam. After cutting several boards to length, screw treated lumber and redwood together to form double-thick perimeter boards. Because the center beam remains hidden, only use pressure-treated lumber. Nail on steel bracket ties to give lateral support (Image 1) and make both boards flush using an electric planer (Image 2).

Step 8: Place the Main Boards

Keeping the more attractive redwood side out, fit the four perimeter boards onto anchor plates set on the caissons (Image 1). Later, these anchors help permanently tie the deck down. With the main boards in place, secure them together by nailing on corner brackets (Image 2).

Step 9: Finish the Frame

With the perimeter complete, finish out the frame by installing treated joists. After installing steel joist hangers at 16-inch intervals, set in the joists and nail them in.

finish out frame by installing treated joists

Step 10: Install Decking Material

Having attached all the joists, finish up the deck by installing the decking material. To begin installation, start by squaring up the first piece of composite to the deck and attaching it to the underlying joists with composite decking screws (Image 1). Continue screwing down the decking making sure to allow for a 1/4" gap between each plank. Attach several rows and stagger the cut seams for structural and aesthetic value (Image 2).

Step 11: Complete the Deck

To complete the deck, permanently fasten the wood portions to the caissons by bolting down the anchor brackets and driving in nails through the perimeter.

Learn how adding a deck can boost your home's value at HGTV's FrontDoor.com.

complete the deck

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