Deck Building Basics
In my previous article, "planning for a new deck," I outlined the steps for planning for a new deck. This article takes the process one step further. We’ll look at how to get started actually building your deck. By this time, I will assume that you have your building permit in hand, a good set of plans, and a materials list. If you don’t have a material list, simply take your plan to your nearest home center or building supply store and have them create one for you. Most lumber yards can actually arrange for delivery of all your materials at one time including all the nails and screws are you will need. This can be quite handy on large projects or if you don’t own a truck or a trailer. The lumber yard will bring all the parts and pieces you will need to build your new deck.
The first place to start, is to set some posts for your deck to rest on. Were I live in the Northeast, we have to deal with the frost and free cycle of winter. When I received my building permit, the code officer made sure to point out that all posts must be secured in country at least 36 inches below the surface of the ground. This will ensure that when the ground freezes the posts of the deck will not heave. Check with your local zoning office to find out what your specifications are for setting posts.
Renting a post hole digger makes setting the posts much easier, especially if you live in an area with a lot of playing or a lot of stone in your soil. I was able to dig a half a dozen holes in less than an hour. Digging the same number of holes my hand would’ve taken me at least half a day so the few dollars I spent on the post hole digger rental was well worth it.
Next, a port some stoning concrete makes into the holes and set the posts. My plan called for 4×4 posts. Your plans may be different. After the posts were in and let the concrete cure according to the directions on the package. I then nailed 2 x 2 joists to the side of the House and around the perimeter of the deck. I used metal choice hangers to hang all the internal joists. You can also tell nailed them but metal choice hangers are stronger and easier to use than trying to toenail large lumber.
There are lots of different types of taking you can use on top of your deck. I choose simple pressure treated lumber. To attach the deck boards to the joists you can use either nails or screws. If you use nails, make sure you use special spiral nails. These help prevent nails from popping. Deck screws are preferable as they are stronger but they are much more expensive than nails when laying out the decking, it is easier to let the deck boards run long and trim them down later once the entire deck surface is finished. When all the deck boards or laid, simply take a circular saw, and cut all the ends off the deck.
For a finished look, attach a skirt board to the exposed edges of the decking and over the rim joists. The last thing to do, if needed, would be to add railing, and or steps. However, these basics should get you started.