Step by Step Guide to Building a Backyard Deck

Decks are popular home improvements. They improve your backyard living spaces and make large entertaining groups easier. If you are looking for ways to increase the value of your home, a deck is a dependable way to do that.

Once you decide that a deck is a must-have for your backyard, these are the steps you need to take.

Step One: Decide to DIY or Hire a Deck Builder

When it comes to deck building, whether you decide to do it yourself or have a professional deck builder do it for you, it makes sense to know the steps involved. Deck building is one of the most difficult DIY projects.

Some decks are easier for a person to build themselves. For example, for a ground-level deck, many building requirements are less stringent than they are for a high deck. For one, you might not need a permit, and the foundation requirements won’t be as strict. Ground-level decks also don’t require railings and stairs to meet building codes.

Starting with a DIY ground-level deck is a good idea if you have never built a deck before. However, consulting with professional deck builders will result in a much better outcome when it comes to raised decks, multi-tiered decks, and decks with unique shapes and patterns.

Before you decide to DIY a raised deck, reach out to a qualified deck builder to see what kind of an estimate they will give you for your dream deck. When you factor in the quality of the end product with the cost of time and materials that it would take to build it, you might decide that it isn’t something you want to tackle yourself.

Step Two: Design and Layout

If you decide to do it yourself, make sure you have your design, plans, and permits in order. Then, you need to lay out your deck before you start building. Every step of your project relies on the layout being done right.

Use string, batter boards, and stakes to mark where your posts and pillars will go. If you are building a raised deck, you must also mark the ledger line on the side of the house. Make sure that your lines are level and your corners are square.

Step Three: The Ledger

The ledger is the board that attaches to the building and supports the deck on one side. The ledger is one of the most important parts of a deck. When decks fail, it is almost always because the ledger comes away from the building and the entire deck collapses. Approximately 90% of deck collapses are due to problems with the ledger.

That’s why it is important to pull the siding away, attach the ledger securely and then protect it with flashing material to keep moisture from getting in between the building and the ledger. Anywhere moisture gets in, you will have problems with decay and rot, and that’s when decks fail.

Step Four: The Foundation

Requirements for the foundation of a ground-level deck are quite different from requirements for a high deck. Therefore, no matter what style of deck you are building, you should consult local building codes to make sure you are in compliance.

In some areas, you can pour concrete pillars and attach posts to them. However, if there are building codes or unstable soil conditions that require it, you should build a foundation that spreads the load out and keeps the deck stable.

Step Five: Posts and Rim Joists

If you are using pillars, attach a post bracket to them. If you are using a foundation, attach the post brackets to the foundation according to your design. Then, install the posts and make sure they are plumb.

After you have the posts ready, put the rim joists on. Rim joists should be double-sided beams made from pressure-treated 2-inch stock wood. Use construction adhesive and nails to bind them together, but don’t line up your nails because this will cause your boards to split.

This is the beginning of your deck framework.

Step Six: Beams and Joists

Joist hangers transfer the load from the joists or ledger to the rest of the framework. Make sure that you get the right sized hangers for the size wood you are using, otherwise, your joists can twist. Attach joist hangers at intervals on both sides of your deck, according to your design.

Then, hang your internal joists and attach them securely to the joist hangers. Make sure that they all line up flush and level so that your deck is flat when you attach the deck boards.

Unless you are using surface-mounted deck railing supports, attach your deck railing supports at this stage.

Step Seven: Deck Boards

After you have the entire framework of your deck built, you get to attach the decking. During your planning process, you should already have decided the type of decking material and pattern you will use.

Use a universal hidden fastener deck tool with a built-in jig so that your screws don’t show on the deck surface.

Step Eight: Railings and Stairs

Ground-level decks do not need railings, but if you are building a raised deck, this is when you should attach the railings and the supports.

If you are using surface-mounted railing supports, measure their locations according to your plan and attach them to your deck. If you already installed them in Step Five, then you are ready to attach the railing.

When building a high deck, you will need to attach a set of stairs. Stairs are even more complicated and involved than building a deck. This is another reason why you might want your first DIY backyard deck project to be a ground-level deck.

Final Steps

If you used wood, you need to treat your deck with stain. Other than that, you are ready to furnish and decorate your deck. Your new deck will increase the value of your home, but more importantly, it will improve your lifestyle.

Home Base Project Team
Home Base Project Team
At The Home Base Project, we offer practical, real-life tips and inspiration about DIY, decorating and gardening. The Home Base Project provide the best information about home renovation and design, connecting home design enthusiasts and home professionals across the world.