One of the best ways to add value to your home outdoors and provide a wonderful space for gatherings of family and friends is to construct a deck. It used to be that decks were a yearly maintenance chore, but the newer and highly improved types of composite decking on the market today create decks that are beautiful, safe and durable. The new composites have a rich look, textures like wood and incredible durability. Maintenance every year consists solely of pressure washing.
In order to learn about the deck construction process, we spoke to Decks & Docks Lumber Company, a supplier of deck and dock materials for Florida and the Southeastern U.S. The company takes pride in providing everything needed for building, repairing or enhancing decks, docks, piers and sea walls. They have the composite decking, lumber, pilings, sea walls, railings, marina accessories, lighting, hardware and tools in order to complete any deck or dock project – from residential to commercial. They specialize in marine construction in the Southeast, with locations in Florida, Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina.
The deck construction project below is for a simple on-level deck that is free-standing. An on-level deck does not need railings, posts or steps. One big consideration is if your deck will be attached to your home. If it is, you will need a ledger board and a waterproof membrane to protect your home. The ledger board is what will hold the house side of the deck up will need to be bolted to your house. An attached deck will also need to have the piers extend below the frost line so that frost heave will not separate the deck and your home over time.
Ensure Your Dimensions Meet Your Needs
A really good tip from This Old House is to use stakes and twine and see if the space you think you need is really big enough. Then, you can place the outdoor furniture on the deck mock-up and try to move around the space that you have staked out. It would really be a shame to create the deck, only to find the space is too cramped.
Materials, Tools & Building
After you know the right dimensions for your deck, you will need to purchase the materials. According to How Stuff Works, you will need other materials and tools to build the deck besides your decking material including cement, anchor posts and brackets, joists, drills, level, circular saw, safety glasses, and a few other things.
You will notice your decking contractor building your deck in the following order:
Step 1 – Digging Post Holes
In order to determine your footing locations, you will need to set up batter boards and use mason’s strings for the deck’s outside corners. A deck will also require interior footings at eight-foot intervals. Thus, a 16-foot by 8-foot deck will need six footings. Using a post hole digger or a power auger, you will need to dig holes for footings that are of the required width and depth specified in your county’s building code. This width and depth vary, based upon if your area encounters winter frost. The post holes will need to be dug at eight-foot intervals. The holes need to be filled with concrete tubing forms.
Step 2 – Pour Concrete for Footings
Using ready-mix concrete that you can mix in a wheelbarrow, you will pour your cement in each footing. Into the center of each footing, place a post anchor bolt. The footings will need to be level and poke out of the ground about an inch. Around each of the concrete tubing forms, you will need to back fill the rest of each post hole with gravel.
Step 3 – Attach Framing Beams
You will need two 2- x 6-inch deck boards to serve as framing beams. You can attach them to the post anchors protruding from your set footings with either screws or nails. When you make the attachment, add a ½ inch thick pressure-treated shim between the beam and each anchor. Ensure that every beam is square. For each outer framing beam, the outside of the dual 2×6 needs to be two inches longer in order to make attachment to the joists easier. According to This Old House, these framing beams should be secured with both construction glue and nails every 16 inches in a zig-zag pattern for stability.
Step 4 – Attach Rim Joists and Angle Brackets and Joists
Rim joists will complete the outer frame of the deck. Again, using 2x6s and a power drill, attach the joists for the rim to the ends of the beams. For inner corner stability, attach angle brackets.
Using two joist hangers per joist and spaced 16 inches on center, attach inner joists to the beams.
As in joining the doubled 2x6s for the beams, add a second 2×6 to each outer joist with construction glue and zig-zagged nails every 16 inches.
Step 5 – Install Decking Boards
Now you have the frame of your deck ready for the boards. You will need install fasteners, but how you do that depends upon the decking material. You will need to consult the manual that came with your decking material and its fasteners, if you are using a composite material. You will also need to consult the manual for the decking material to see how much space you need to leave between each decking board.
For wood, you use 16d nails to space the deck boards properly. Each board must be attached into each side joist at two locations. Each fastener needs to be around ¾ to 1 inch from the decking board’s edge. Boards are placed perpendicular to the joists.
Step 6 – Trim the Deck
All that remains is to get a nice straight edge out of those deck boards. Snap a chalk line along each deck edge. Cut the line with a circular saw, leaving straight deck lines.
Deck construction is a fulfilling weekend project that adds to the value of residential and commercial spaces. If you have purchased composite decking, your deck is now ready to use. Otherwise, you will have to stain and waterproof the deck. If you have any questions on decks or docks, Deck & Docks Lumber Company are the experts and are happy to answer your questions.