What Should I Know About Building a Deck?

Caroline Cloutier

A deck is quite a practical addition to any home. It provides extra room for gathering with family and friends, a play area for children, or an alternative location for eating a meal on a warm day. If your house does not already have one, building a deck can provide extra value to your home, all the while providing you with an enjoyable area to relax and rewind.

Safety goggles are a mandatory part of safe deck building.
Safety goggles are a mandatory part of safe deck building.

Before building a deck, several factors must be taken into consideration. You should begin by researching your municipality's building codes and regulations. Often, a municipality will have a building code or zoning law in place to prevent injury and ensure fire safety. Fines are often imposed on those who do not adhere by the code. If building a deck does require a permit, be sure to obtain one before you begin building.

Cedar is attractive and resistant to water damage and insect infestations.
Cedar is attractive and resistant to water damage and insect infestations.

Once you've taken care of any permits, you should plan the process and choose a design before you begin construction. Many deck designs are available online for free or can be found at your local hardwood store or bookstore. Things you should consider when choosing a design is the type of wood you want to use, and the overall size and shape you'd like to have.

It's important to plan the size and shape of the deck before building.
It's important to plan the size and shape of the deck before building.

Once you know what type of deck you will be building and how large it will be, measure out the area and place temporary markers around your yard. You'll also want to investigate the ground to make sure you set up a proper foundation for the deck. Soil that is too soft or ground that is essentially rock will affect how you construct the foundation for your deck. Also, be sure to remove any landscape that may get in the way of your construction.

Building a deck is a lot easier when the proper tools are readily available. Depending on the design of your deck, some tools you will need include, a shovel, level, circular and hand saw, screwdriver, drill, hammer, nails, wrench, gloves, and safety goggles.

When building a deck, the type of wood you choose to use will be important. Because a deck is outdoors, pressure-treated wood that is durable and fit to handle all weather conditions will be important. Cedar or pine is often the most popular kind of wood used, but the wood you'll want to use will also depend on your deck's design.

Once all of the tools and wood are purchased, and a plan and design are selected, it is time to begin building. It may be more enjoyable, and easy, if you have friends or family members to assist with the construction. Building a deck may take a week to a couple of weeks, depending on its size and the amount of work you can put into it.

When building a deck, be sure to keep safety in mind at all times. Keep yourself protected by wearing safety goggles and gloves and be sure to pay attention to your project to ensure the deck is safe for all who will be using it upon completion.

Lag screws, which have coarse threading and a hexagonal head, can be used to secure wooden planks, such as those used for building decks.
Lag screws, which have coarse threading and a hexagonal head, can be used to secure wooden planks, such as those used for building decks.

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