How to build a Deck
There’s nothing as relaxing as spending a calm evening on your own private deck. Whether you’re curled up with a good book or hosting a backyard barbeque, decks can be one of the most important finishing touches to make your house not just a home, but your dream home. But there are also some important details to know before adding one on. Whether you build one yourself or seek professional help, here are some steps to take when building a deck.
Like any building project, the most important phase is at the beginning while you plan and design your deck. You may want to enlist the help of a professional builder, like Kehoe Kustom, for the design, particularly if there are special features you’d like to add. This is where you’ll determine what size you want your deck to be. Balance what you can afford with what you’ll use it for. If you can make do with a smaller size now and leave room to add on later, that could help you manage the cost of the product.
An essential part of your prep work means checking with your local building department and/or homeowner’s association to make sure you get any building permits you might need, and any zoning regulations you may need to follow. If you’re on a small lot, be sure to check the city’s or county’s setback requirements; if your new deck would put you too close to the property line, you may need to request a variance. That has to go through legal notices, which can take weeks. Also, note what parts of your project will require inspections. You’ll also want to check for underground utility lines before you break ground.
Once you’ve settled on a size and design, you’ll need to choose what type of material you’d like to build the deck. Cheaper options include plastic or composite lumber; real wood options range from pressure treated lumber to tropical hardwood, with hardwood as the most expensive option. While the budget may be the biggest determiner of what material you use, keep in mind other factors, like how the materials will fit with your current home’s exterior (and neighborhood aesthetic) and what type of maintenance it will require. Plus, will you get any joy out of a deck made from a material you hate? Try to think long-term, and what works best for your family, schedule, and budget.
MARKING THE AREA
Once you have the design and materials, it’s time to mark where the deck will go. Some suggest using batter boards and string to map out the frame; one expert recommends building a frame from boards for a more accurate feel.
Once you have the area framed up or marked where the posts should go, you’ll need to dig in the post holes. You can dig them by hand, but a post auger will make the process much easier and faster. Remember to dig the post holes 6 inches deeper than the frost line. There is more than one way to set the post; pouring concrete into the post hole is common. You can buy concrete mix and pour it yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. Check with your local design-build firm or hardware store for what equipment you may need, such as concrete forms and tape measures.
Posts and Frame
You’ll then set the posts in the concrete, making sure they’re level. Saw them to the proper length, then you’re ready to begin framing. (Consider adding waterproofing tape or sealant at the top of the joint beams.) After that, you can add the decking and the stairs, and, if desired, railings.
Still have questions? For a complete list of the tools and supplies, you’ll need to build a deck, contact us here.