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How To Build A Wood Deck?

How to Build a Wood Deck?

Learning how to build a wood deck in your outdoor space can enhance your home’s options for entertaining and relaxation. The decking installation process can also be challenging, so plan the amount of decking you’ll need carefully and enlist the help of friends and family if possible. 


This guide will teach you how to build a ground-level wood deck with step-by-step instructions.

Before we start

6 Tips for Safety you must Follow When Building a Wood Deck

  • When using power tools, protect your eyes and ears.
  • When utilizing hitting tools, use eye protection.
  • Wear a dust mask when cutting lumber and mixing concrete.
  • Avoid using gloves when using power saws.
  • Use GFCI-protected power cords when operating corded power tools outdoors.
  • Use only hardware and fasteners that have been approved by the manufacturer for all wood goods.

1. The Deck Planning Process and Considerations

In this guide, we’ll show you how to build a ground-level deck without stairs and railings.

  • A ground-level deck is typically one that is not attached to the home and has a maximum height of 30 inches off the ground.
  • Ground-level decks may not need a permit and are frequently not required to have a railing around the perimeter.
  • Additionally, ledger boards are not incorporated into the construction of ground-level decks.
  • When creating a ground-level deck, find out what your local building department’s code requirements are.
  • Call 811 before you dig if your deck requires concrete footings or piers to be buried. Any power, gas, or water lines in your yard will be marked by your community’s utility company.
  • Stay away from any indicated lines when excavating. Make holes with a two-person auger or a post hole digger.
  • You can get an auger from tool rental businesses and finish digging holes quickly. Avoid any places flagged by the utility company when operating an auger. If you need to dig a hole that is between 18 and 24 inches from a marked utility, do it by hand for your own safety.
  • While you have a lot of flexibility in deciding where to put a free-standing ground-level deck in your yard, you’ll probably need to consider some building code requirements.
  • Prior to beginning construction, be sure to confirm the required distance from property lines with your local building department.
  • Additionally, think about how easily building supplies may be delivered to the location. The greatest location for a free-standing ground-level deck is a level, flat space.
  • The shape of your deck may be impacted by the curves of your yard. It should be simple to create if your landscape is relatively level. Grading a level area at the bottom of a slope or constructing a retaining wall may be necessary.
  • The slope’s peak may also have a deck. To maintain the level of the deck, posts can extend down the slope.
  • You can add some climate control if the weather on your terrace is extreme. To shade a big deck, you can either construct an overhead pergola with open rafters or lattice roofing, or you can use an umbrella to create localized shade. Fence panels or lattice screens will add seclusion while reducing wind.
  • Consider locations in your yard that receive natural shade when choosing the location of your deck. Your costs can be reduced by using trees and bushes to shade and screen your deck rather than having to construct large buildings or fences.
  • You should think about the type of deck board you want when deciding how to design a deck. A clean appearance and low-maintenance finish are produced by installing composite decking boards with concealed fasteners.
  • There are numerous composite decking designs and colours available. A typical, affordable alternative that can be stained any colour is pressure-treated wood decking. Remember that pressure-treated wood and other types of wood decking need frequent upkeep.

Bring your ideas to your neighbourhood Home Depot for a comprehensive drawing once you have a broad idea of the design you want. This drawing can be used to calculate the cost of the deck’s materials and be submitted for code clearance to the regional building department.
Remember that the building inspector will need to look at several parts of the deck-building process if your deck needs a permit.
Ground-level decks are typically one step from the ground; therefore, unless they are taller than 8 inches, they won’t need deck stairs, railing, or stair railing.

Related Article: How to Repair a wood Deck?

2. Prepare Posts by Digging Holes

  1. Footings may also be necessary beneath the piers to distribute the weight of the deck, depending on local soil conditions and building code requirements. Your deck plans will include particular criteria that are based on regional construction codes. The dimensions, quantity, and location of the deck footings or piers are shown on your deck plans.
  2. Lay out where the piers and footings will be using batter boards and mason’s string lines first. The deck’s base will be made of this. The elevation and location of your deck’s corners are marked with batter boards, which are temporary frameworks.
  3. Using batter boards and mason’s line, mark the deck’s perimeter. Mason’s line should be run parallel to the house initially. Run parallel lines, crossing the mason’s line at the corners, to finish the perimeter.
  4. Use the 3,4,5, method to square the corners. Mark the string line at a distance of 3 feet from the point where the lines converge. Perpendicular to that line, measure 4 feet along it and record the location. Once the line is exactly 5 feet apart, measure between the 3-foot and 4-foot lines.
  5. Based on the drawings, spray paint the positions of the deck’s piers and footings. To drill the holes for the piers/footings, use a posthole digger or power auger.
  6. Ensure that you dig below the frost line if your local code requires it.
  7. Fill the holes with the concrete tube forms, levelling them so that they protrude 1 inch or less above the ground. To keep each shape level, screw a scrap 1x to each side of it. The leftover 1x pieces should be long enough to span the hole and suspend the tube inside of it.
  8. To centre the tubes in accordance with the plans, use a tape measure, the mason’s lines, and as necessary, move the hole placements.
  9. Use a long level to make sure all the piers are the same height. However, in most cases, this is not necessary because any discrepancies can be made up in the post lengths that will be placed on top of them.
  10. Backfill the holes around the tube forms, periodically pressing the dirt down.

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3. Pour Concrete and Place Anchors for Posts

  • Utilizing a shovel or mortar hoe, combine ready-mix concrete bags in a wheelbarrow as directed by the manufacturer.
    Place a post anchor bolt in the middle of each footer before the mixed concrete starts to set, then pour it into the tube form. The bolt should remain above the footing long enough to attach to the post base. The anchor bolts should be aligned using a mason’s string line strung across the tubing forms.
  • As directed by the manufacturer, give concrete enough time to cure.
    When the concrete has fully hardened, install post bases over each anchor bolt and align them in accordance with the plan shown on the drawings.
    Don’t completely tighten the wood post base; keep the nut loose enough for future tapping in either direction. Once you’ve positioned the posts where you want them, you may tighten the nuts.

Related Article: How to Stain a Wood Deck?

4.Attach Posts or Beams to Post Base

  • Most likely, your deck plans specify that the posts be placed on each post foundation before being later fastened to the deck framing. In some circumstances, your deck plans might specify that a beam be installed directly in the post bases.
    If posts are required per the designs, they should be cut a few inches above the finished height of the deck framing. You can later cut them flush.
  • Place the posts in the post bases and secure them with the necessary post-base fasteners, such as nails or screws.
    Installed the flush beam directly onto the post bases if your deck plans specify that it must be set in the same plane as the deck’s framing. To precisely level, the beam, use composite shims or metal strapping devices. Avoid using wood shims since they will eventually compress.
    Use screws or post-base hardware to fasten the beam to the post bases.
    To ensure that beams are square, check beam alignment and make any adjustments.
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5. Fix The Rim Joists And Angle Brackets

  • The deck frame can now be constructed with the posts or beams in place. The ledger board, which is attached to the house and is not necessary because the deck is free-standing, is not needed. Your deck will be made up of rim joists, which will form the deck’s perimeter, and joists, which will support the decking.
  • When constructing a low-level deck with posts inserted into the structure, fasten the rim joist to the posts with 3-inch galvanized screws or galvanized 10D common nails. Since these fasteners are just temporary, use one per post. To make sure the rim joist is level, use a long level and a helper.
  • To build the deck’s perimeter, erect the remaining rim joists in the same way.
  • Using the hardware specified by the drawings and your local building regulations, secure the rim joist to the posts. Most often, galvanized through-bolts, galvanized lag bolts, or specially designed structural screws may be utilized.
  • To allow for eventual free sitting of the decking over it, cut the posts flush with the top of the rim joist.
  • Finish the sides by inserting a rim joist on either side if the beams serve as the deck’s ends. A beam and a rim joist now make up the deck’s perimeter on either side of either end.
  • Add any extra hardware, such as angle brackets, that the code specifies.

Tip: Most framing lumber has a slight bow along its edge. Ensure that all framing materials are installed so that the “crown” is up before installing the rim joists.

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6. Fix Inner Joists To Beam Faces

With the deck’s rim joist complete, it’s time to install the joists.

On opposing rim joists, start by spacing the joists evenly. In accordance with your designs, place a mark every 12, 16 or 24 inches where the rim joist is and pull your tape measure across it. Mark the beams where your measurements will be taken if your deck consists of two beams.

In the rim joist (or beam) parallel to or in opposition to the one you just indicated, repeat this procedure. To avoid repeating the previous step, make sure to pull your plan from the same side of the rim joist.
Return and make a line down the inside face of the rim joist or beam with a square; then, mark an x on the side of the line opposite from where you took your measurement. Put the x on the right side of the line if you took your measurement from the left. Put the x on the left side of the line if you took your measurement from the right.

These lines represent the joist sides, and the x represents where the joist ends will be placed.
Joist hangers may now be installed more easily, but you still need to set them at the right height. The joist hangers must be installed before you can attach the joists between the beams.

You can create a quick template for installing joist hangers by using a cut end of the joist material that is about 3 to 4 inches long. On top of the cut joist piece, nail a scrap of wood such that it protrudes 1 to 2 inches past the end. Now, as you set the joist hanger, register it on this template.

The cut end of the joist piece should sit where the joist will go, and the top of the template should align with the rim joist. Use the proper structural nails or screws to secure each hanger while holding the joist hanger to the template (hold the sides of the joist hanger slightly loose so that you can slide the joist in place later). Continue until every hanger has been installed.

Utilizing the region nearest to the ends, measure the joist length (the area in the middle may have bowed in or out slightly). Now trim each joist to the proper length and install the joist hangers.
Use hardware-appropriate structural nails or screws to fasten the joists.
You can install the joists first, followed by the joist hangers if you’re installing them between two rim joists rather than a beam.

Cut the joists to the proper length, and then fasten them to the plan using galvanized 10D common nails from the outside of the rim joist.
Install the joist hangers using the hardware-specific structural nails or screws after the joists are in place.

Before installing the joists, don’t forget to crown them.
To make the joists last longer, apply self-adhesive flashing tape over their tops. Professional deck builders are using this optional step as a best practice even if it adds some cost.

7. Adding Fasteners To Joists And Installing Boards

You should align your wood decking boards parallel to the house if your deck will be freestanding against the home. If your deck is going to be outside, you’ll need to run the decking parallel to the deck framing.

Align the first deck board’s edge so that it is parallel to the house, then run the fasteners in to begin the decking in this manner. Allow the ends to protrude far to either side.
You can start against the house and work your way outward if you have planned ahead and are confident you will wind up with a full-sized board.

If you are unsure of where the last board will land, begin with the board that is farthest from the house and work your way closer to it.

In order to maintain the proper distance between boards, keep running boards in this manner. If employing hidden fasteners, the fasteners already have spacing. Maintain a board spacing of between 1/8 and 3/16 inches when face-screwing pressure-treated wood decking. Typically, a gap of 1/8-inch is advised because decking tends to dry out with time, shrink, and enlarge the gap. To allow for drainage and airflow, there should be room between the deck planks.

Drive two bolts through each board and into the middle of each joist as you erect the decking boards perpendicular to the joists. Each fastener should be positioned 3/4 to 1 inch from the board’s edge.

Measure the distance at each corner as you make your way to the deck’s end (or the house, depending on which direction you’re going) to make sure you’re travelling straight and will end up parallel to the rim joist.

If running deck boards on a deck that is not near the house, start by snapping a line that is equidistant at each corner and allows for 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch overhang along the length of the first board.
Install the first board as above, and repeat the process.

Tip: For the best appearance, stagger the seams between adjacent rows of decking. Seams should look random, so keep two or more joists away from one another.

8. Trim Decking Boards Straight

With the boards in place, it’s time to trim the ends.

Pull measurements of 1 or 1 1/2 inches from each corner to start, then draw a chalk line across the ends of the decking to join the two.
On the opposite edge, repeat the operation.

Use a circular saw to cut along the line. Use a track saw or screw or fasten a temporary circular guide to achieve an accurate cut.

After the cuts are finished, you can smooth the edge by running a router with a bottom-bearing 1/4-inch round-over bit. In the absence of a router, a sander with 120-grit sandpaper will suffice.

It takes fundamental carpentry skills, as well as time and money, to learn how to build a deck. When finished, a deck increases the value of your house and makes it more comfortable for you to spend time outside.

When determining how much lumber you need, don’t guesstimate, calculate. Know exactly how much you need with project calculators. For more help when constructing a deck, contact us M&Y Home Fix Repair and Renovation experts in deck repair services.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. This is a very detailed guide on building a ground-level deck! It covers all the steps from planning and safety considerations to installing the deck boards. I especially like the breakdown of how to frame the deck and the tips for installing the joists and decking boards.

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