Deck Building

Deck building

Decking building in Canada is much the same as building one anywhere else except that in some parts of the country the harsh weather is harder on the materials than others. You wouldn't expect a deck in Victoria to have the same winter conditions as one built in Kapuskasing. Therefore the methods of how to build a deck would be slightly different. For example, the freeze/thaw cycle of the northern Ontario town would be non-existent on the coast of British Columbia so the threat of water getting into spaces between the planks and freezing would be a non-issue.

Decks are a popular do-it-yourself project for many people who have a bit of a handy edge. However,  when it comes to deck construction there are many things that only a deck contractor will know. This is because, like most other trades, the deck contractor is specialized and has worked on many styles of the structures and with many different materials.


In many areas of the country you need two building permits to build a deck. The deck builder can apply for the permits but the homeowner has to sign them:

Development Permit: The building commission will put a limit on the height based on the amount of yard area. In most areas a development permit is not required for decks 2 feet high. This is measured from the ground to the top of the deck.

Building Regulations: Many of the regulations are for safety reasons such as deck railing.

This will include:

  • Guard rails for decks over a certain height

  • Guard Rail height

  • Guard rail attachment designs

  • Guard rail openings

  • Beam and joist sizes

In addition the commission will lay down other rules such as:

  • Covered decks will have different requirements.

  • Boundary line considerations.

  • No deck can go over an easement or right-of-way.

  • Decks cannot be built over gas lines, a gas meter, a water meter or gas or water shut-off valves.


There are as many deck designs as there are home designs and most deck plans are based on a homeowner's lifestyle. For example, some people would rather look out over an area than be at ground level. A roof deck is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the surroundings from a perch high above the yard. Other homeowners have swimming pools and so their decks will reflect the recreational aspect as well as the lounging capability. Deck stairs can be built to link multiple levels so that a ground deck can lead to a roof deck. In addition, the decking patterns may be different as well as the construction materials.

Decking Materials

Wood Decking:

In Canada wood is the easiest material to find and the cheapest to buy. However, wood has a tendency to weather and, in damp areas, rot. The Canadian climate is extremely hard on wood as water gets into any crack or hole and when it freezes it makes the space bigger allowing more water to get in. This cycle attracts insects and mildew and in a matter of half-a-dozen years the deck needs to be torn down.

Pressure-treated wood has changed all this because the wood now lasts almost as long as any other material. Wood is not only inexpensive but easy to use and most decks that do not use wood decking will use wood framing. Cedar and redwood decking are very expensive but their natural oils protect them from decay.

In 2004, Canadian lumber producers stopped the use of CCA (Chromated copper arsenate) for treating wood for domestic construction because of the arsenic content and this was replaced with ACQ, a copper-based solution. Unfortunately, the ACQ-treated wood is hard on nails. It corrodes iron and aluminum fasteners that could make the decking unstable in a few years. The designers recommend stainless-steel for fastening.

Composite Decking

Using a mixture of wood flour (small particles) and recycled plastic composite decking is becoming very popular. Although two to five times more expensive it comes already colored so maintenance is almost non-existent. The planks can be solid or extruded, which means that they are forced through a die that produces channels that make them light while maintaining the strength. Solid planks are also available. Composite can be cut, nailed and screwed like real wood.

Vinyl Decking

Like vinyl siding the decking is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in an extrusion process. The bulk of the plank, railing, posts and other parts are recycled vinyl while the top layer is a fine vinyl containing the pigment, the finish and the protection for ultraviolet rays. The finish resembles real wood however most vinyl planking is installed on a rail system which is quicker than nailing. In addition the planks can be ordered in lengths of up to 16 feet which means fewer joints.

Metal Decking

Like vinyl aluminum decking has a fastening system. The planks and posts are either powder or plastic-coated for protection. An extremely expensive decking aluminum will last a lifetime while maintaining its great look. The railing systems include glass, wind barriers which are great for a high deck or one overlooking a lake.

For a decking contractor in your area contact our Contractor Directory or post your project online at A qualified professional will contact you and give you some great ideas.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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