How to Build a Deck in 13 Easy Steps

3 years ago

Building a new deck can be a good way to add to the value of your house and enhance outdoor living. Whether you want to enjoy the beauty of a silent night in the backyard or host a birthday party with your friend, this is a perfect area to have.

However, it requires a lot of planning and works to construct a new deck. With that in mind, we’ll show you a step-by-step guide on how to build a deck in your backyard.

How to Build a Deck

Step 1: Plan the deck

Before starting, you should make a rough sketch of the deck so that you can prepare the necessary materials and allocate a suitable area. If you struggle with this step, you can find deck and patio designs online.

In general, the size of a house will be the decisive factor in the size and shape of a deck.  In turn, your deck’s size might determine how many posts and footings you should build to support the deck boards and joists, while its height will determine if you have to include steps, posts, and railings.

3d deck plan -- How to build a deck
You could go as far as 3D-modeling your deck, but we recommend sticking to 2D plans.

A deck can be either attached to a house or free-standing, so make sure to check the building codes and choose the right type. Also, check with the local authorities and obtain any building permit before starting to construct your deck.

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Step 2: Prepare the building area

After making a plan and preparing the materials, it’s time to mark the area where the bottom and top of your deck will go. You can use a level and make a line across the whole length that the ledger board might go.

Next, remove all of the sidings from this area with a jigsaw and saw when it is the solid siding. In case the sidings are made of vinyl materials, you might need a special device to pry them up. After the removal, you need to mark the lines for the bottom and top of your deck again.

Step 3: Prepare the ledger board

Measure the ledger board with a tape measure and cut them to ensure that they fit against your home. Next, mark off the rim joists of the deck on the board’s left edge and the centers where each joist would go. Perform a similar step on the right edge. Mark all the edges with drawn lines across the surface of the ledger board.

ledger board -- How to build a deck

Step 4: Prepare the beams

Cut the beams with a similar length as you have done with ledger boards in the previous step. If you want to install a flush beam, then it is a good idea to use align both beams’ edges with a framing square, then copy the full marks. As for a cropped style, you just have to mark across its top for your reference.

Step 5: Nail joist hangers

Use a wood scrap to check the spacing of a joist hanger, then nail it in place with thick, short nails that are made to secure joists. In case you are building a flush beam, it is necessary to attach a joist hanger to the innermost part of the beam.

joist hanger -- How to build a deck

Step 6: Install the ledger board to your home

Place the board temporarily in place with nails, then drill one or two holes between two joists. Use silicone caulk for the inside of the holes and put a screw in each hole to attach the ledger board in your house permanently.

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Step 7: Assemble footing

Firstly, dig 15-cm or 6-inch holes for each footing with a power auger or post-hole digger. Make sure their bottoms are wider than their top. After that, place the footing in the hole and use a loose back-fill to support it.

To provide even support to the posts, you should trim every piers level. Next, pour concrete into the holes and allow it to sit for at least one day before proceeding.

Step 8: Cut the posts and raise over the piers

Set stainless steel rebar or rod to the piers to keep the posts in a fixed place. You would also cover the tops of the piers with adhesive right before placing the posts when they have wooden tops. To prevent the posts from being unstable, you should plumb them to be level.

Step 9: Install the beams and rim joists

Set the members of the beam so that the outermost part is flush with the post’s edge, then attach it with toenails. Next, attach the rim joists to the beam and ledger board with corner brackets. Adjust carefully so that the beam can be square before affixing it with lag bolts, screws, or nails.

how to build a deck
Photo courtesy of our reader Craig

Step 10: Set up the joists inside

Check if there is any sign of crowning or bowing in the edge of each joist. Slip them to every joist hanger of the ledger board and flush the beam. If necessary, you should tap them trim off a bit so that the end would not slip in with no excessive force.

Step 11: Lay down deck boards

The next step on how to build a deck is to measure the entire deck frame and add the skirting’s width or overhang’s length to it. Next, cut the two first deck boards into this length and cut off the overhang’s length from the part which would be laid near your house.

deck boards -- How to build a deck

Place the first deck board against the sheathing of your house and the next ones against it. Use 2 screws or nails to attach the boards to the joists and straighten them with the flat bar.

Step 12: How to Build Stairs

If your building deck is quite high to require stairs, you can figure out the number of necessary steps by dividing the height by seven and take the quotient if it is a whole number. The rise between each step will be 17.5 cm or 6 in.

Step 13: Build wood deck railings

To prevent falls and ensure safety while your family members or friends are playing or sitting on the deck, it is a good idea to build deck railings. Start with setting the stair and corner posts, then plumbing and securing them with glue, carriage bolts, or lag screws. The remaining parts of spindles, bottom rails, and top rails might be attached separately or assembled into each section.

How to Build a Deck - deck ready

That is our step-by-step guide on how to build a deck in your house. Now it’s time to get started and improve your outdoor living space!

If you want to see more woodworking wizardry — check out our FREE 50 woodworking plans eBook ?