How Deck Construction Can Get Complicated


Maybe you're dreaming of spending the entire summer in your backyard, lounging on a new deck with a cold drink in hand. A few trips to the building supply store and your confidence will blossom - how hard can deck construction be anyway? There are DIY instructions available and only the basic tools are needed, right? The answer depends entirely on your deck design.

Basic is Beautiful for DIY

The construction of a basic, ground level deck is fairly straightforward. As long as you understand the need to support your framing, tie in your railing and build the stairs, this type of deck construction is something that can be done over a weekend with a buddy or two to help.

Installation of the posts or piers should be done ahead of time so that the concrete is allowed to cure. Building a deck on floating blocks in another option but you need to be aware of the building codes in your area. Check that deck blocks are a viable and safe option.

The framing and decking are fairly basic as well, with joist spacing generally set at 16 inches on center and deck boards installed with either nails or screws. Buy or rent a nail or screw gun to make this job go much faster. Construction of the railing will also depend on the design with the typical 2x2 picket railing being the easiest.

Custom Decks Are More Complicated

When your deck design includes overhead features, multiple levels and custom railings the construction skill level required moves up a few notches. Also, decks built more than a foot or two off of the ground will need to follow building code.

Some of the basic math calculations required include the spacing of the joists and beams, the distance between the railing posts and the design of the stair stringers. Professional deck builders are trained for this and know the specific codes that apply. If you are attempting to do this on your own be sure to have the calculations done ahead of time as on the job mistakes and corrections can cost you plenty in time and materials.

Overhead features such as pergolas or gazebos are often built into the deck itself. A gazebo kit is fine for the yard, but for the maximum stability and durability it should be incorporated into the deck design itself.

Multiple levels give your deck visual interest and help to create an outdoor living space that is practical as well as attractive. The trick is that each level needs to be built as a lone deck and then joined together with stairs or laminated ring joists. Often the railings can be carried on across the levels if required, although a post may be needed on both levels for strength.

Your dream of a deck is totally attainable this coming season. But don't go into the project assuming the deck construction is a simple process. It requires a solid design, knowledge of the building codes, math calculations and tools that will allow for efficient installation. DIY may not be the best option if you want a complicated design with custom features. Take a look at your budget, consider your skill level and make sure that your dream deck is installed this year.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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