Deck Building Tips
By following these steps, you will find that building your deck
is a lot easier than you might imagine.
Once the deck's location has been decided, the deck can be
positioned using a simple surveying procedure, the 3-4-5 Rule. Stake a line 4'
long parallel to the house wall. One end will be stake A, the other stake B.
Connect a second line to stake A, run it perpendicularly to a point 3' away, and
attach the line to stake C. The corner will be square when the distance between
stakes B and C is 5'.
Once you are certain the corner is square, use stakes and
string to complete the outline of your deck. Accuracy is extremely important.
From the measurements in your deck plan, determine the
location of the posts and mark these points with stakes. The post holes for the
footings should be at least 3' deep and 12" wide. Deeper holes may be
necessary depending on the frost conditions in your area.
Tamp a 2" gravel base into the hole and insert an 8"
diameter concrete form. Fill the hole around the tube, tamping down the soil.
Fill the form with ready-mix concrete, sinking a 4x4 metal saddle into the
centre of the concrete. Check that saddles are level and lined up square with
the house, and let the concrete cure overnight. Consult your local building
Post height is figured by measuring the distance from the top
of the proposed deck to the base of the saddles, deducting the thickness of the
decking, the joists and the beams. Posts must be cut to their finished height
before the beams can be attached.
All cuts and holes in treated wood should be liberally
brush-coated with two applications of Timber
Specialties EndCoat™ preservative. Follow the instructions and advice on
Depending on the size and intended use of the deck, beams
generally consist of 2x6s, 2x8s or 2x10s nailed together at 12-16"
intervals with 3" galvanized nails. Attach beams to posts using 3"
framing angles or special connecting hardware.
It is recommended that joists be installed on 16" centres.
Mark the end beams for the placement of the joists and run a chalk line across
the remaining beams to mark them. Cut joists to the proper length and attach
them to the beams by toe nailing with 3 1/2" galvanized nails or using
metal framing connectors and 1 1/2" galvanized nails or screws.
You are now ready to start on the part of your deck that will
receive the most attention — the decking. Extra care is required. Carefully
inspect each board to determine the best face to show. To minimize splitting,
predrill nail holes. We also recommend the use of deck screws to give a
professional appearance to your deck.
Butt 5/4" deck boards together. For 2" decking,
leave 1/8" spacing. Check your measurements every few boards. If off
slightly, don't try to correct with just one board; use two or three. Check as
you go for best results.
Premanufactured pressure treated stringers make installing
stairs easy. They are generally available in three heights: 3 steps, for an
elevation of 20"; 4 steps, for an elevation of 26"; and 5 steps, for
an elevation of 32". For stairs with more than three steps, you may have to
provide for two extra posts at the base of the stairs to support a handrail.
Stringers are attached to the header or outside joist using
special joist hangers. Cut risers from 2" lumber to fit the riser notch in
the stringers exactly, and nail in place with 3" galvanized nails. Cut
treads from the same boards used for the decking. Install with a 1"
overhang in front and 1/8" spacing between boards for drainage, with
3" galvanized nails.
Add a Railing
Railings are perhaps the most important and attention-getting
part of a deck. You can add a distinctive look to your new deck or remodel an
existing deck with pressure treated deck accessories. Turned posts and
spindles, balusters and handrails are available in a variety of styles and are
easy to install.
The height of guard rails is set by building codes (35
1/2" in height for decks over 23 1/2" high, and 42" in height for
decks over 71" high). The code may also require a maximum spacing between
balusters or spindles of 4". Check with your local building officials
before you begin to confirm the requirements in your area.