Ask Pikkdogs: How to Build a Deck

by Pikkdogs ~ April 1st, 2012.

Hey everybody, this is Pikkdogs here with a segment of “Ask Pikkdogs”.  Why don’t you set the article up for us Pedro?

Okay.  If you guys remember about a month ago Pikkdogs asked for questions from you readers.  Well, now that States are over, Pikkdogs will respond to the most asked question.  Are you ready Pikkdogs?

Just got to get my pants on…………….okay, ready.

How professional.  The most asked question was, “Dear Pikkdogs, what is the best way to build a deck?”

Thanks Pedro, I will handle it from here.

How To Build A Deck

Planning the Deck

The first step to building a deck is to get a permit from your local planning office.  Since most states count decks as extensions of your house, you will need a permit so that you will be  up to date with current property tax law, and not subject to penalties.  It may sound like something that doesn’t need to be done, but in the long run it is the best thing to do.

The next step in building a deck is of course planning a location for the deck.  You want to put it in a place that fits your personal preferences.  You may not want to put a deck in the direct sunlight, but on the other hand, you may want to enjoy the sun when it is out.  You will also want to consider if the deck will connect to your house or not.  Next, you will want to plan for any future involvement with trees and other shrubs.  You do not want a Maple tree growing over the deck in a couple years, that will leave a sappy and leafy mess.

Next, you are going to want to consider how big the deck will be.  You are probably going to want to draw a blueprint or purchase a deck-building guide that has one already in it.  You need to make sure that the deck is the right size for its intended use.  If you plan to put a barbecue grill and a table and chairs on the deck you are going to need at least a 12×20 ft deck.  Though for a deck that is used for grilling, a 16 x 20 ft deck may be more spacious.

You will also want to think about safety.  If you have pets or children, make sure to install the spindels with no more than 4 inch gaps.  But, make sure to check in with property codes in your area.

The final step in the planning stage is to pick the type of wood you will make your deck out of.  The minimum quality of wood that will look really nice in a deck is your normal pressure treated lumber.  Using a quality wood like this will make sure that your deck will have a long life without any safety concerns.  If you have the money to use more premium woods, you can go with an American classic like Redwood.  This will give your deck a more premium look that is more sturdier than the pressure treated lumber.  If you want to go really high end, may I suggest an imported wood like Mahogany.  It may be very expensive to do a large deck with, but it is a great wood that is used frequently in higher end deck building.  If you want to build your deck out of more artificial material, than the standby is  a product called Trex.  If you want to choose something with more colors, than I would look into Evergrain. 

Building The Deck

You have a perfect deck blueprint, now you need to start the actual building.  Before you can start moving lumber into the area, you need to clear the area that the deck will be on.  You will need to remove any large rocks and any grass that is growing from the spot that the deck will touch the ground.  Some deck plans involve installing concrete blocks on the ground for stability.  The following steps are what I would use for a simple deck, but feel free to substitute in the steps that come from your planning guide or blueprint.

The first step of actually building the deck is to attach the ledger, a long piece of wood that runs along the house parallel to the deck, to the house.  You will want to attach the ledger fairly close to the ground, and then remove the siding on your house from the ground to about a foot above the ledger.  Than, using roofing screws you should attach weather strips or another type of protecting to the ledger.  You do not want the ledger to wear.

The next step will be installing posts that will hold your deck up.  If you are building an On Grade Deck, that is a deck that is one the ground, posts are not necessary.  The first step in this process is to dig footings where the posts will go.  You will want to position them about 1/16 of an inch away from the house, and you will need to put the footings about 8 feet apart from one another.  The holes need to be wide enough to fit a post, and deep enough to extend below the frost line.  After you dig the footings you can fill them with concrete and wait for it to dry.  Next, you will need to attach a post base to each footing.  You can start by marking the center of the footing, and then drill into each footing with a hammer drill equipped with a masonry bit.  After the holes are drilled, you can use an impact wrench to tighten an anchor bolt in place.  The next step involves installing rim joints into the ledger, then use 16d nails to attach the joints to rim joists and beams.  Then, continue using 2ft boards to attach the front rim joist until all of the boards you just nailed are connected with 6 16d nails a piece.  You can then attach these to the rim posts.

I will let my friends at www.thisoldhouse.com tell you how to finish off the project:

Nail paint-grade trim boards as wide as the rim joists to their outside faces with two 8d hot-dipped galvanized or stainless finish nails spaced every 12 to 16 inches. Scarf any joints in the run; miter joints at the corners.   Measure the distance from the wall to the outside of the trim board and add 1 inch for overhang. Cut the deck boards to this length.  Squeeze a bead of polyurethane marine sealant on the top edge of a side rim joist. (This adhesive actually fastens the decking in place.) Lay a straight deck board in the adhesive so its long edge overhangs the trim board by 1 inch. Secure each end of the deck board with an 8d finish nail.  Tack 8d finish nails into the joists alongside the first board to maintain consistent spacing. Squeeze dabs of adhesive onto the top edge of each joist. Lay and nail the next deck board as before. Continue gluing and nailing until the deck is complete. (Add more nails only if a board does not lie straight or flat.)  Replace the house’s siding to within ½ to 1 inch of the decking.

Okay, that is all I know about how to build a deck.  Hopefully our readers will enjoy these easy steps on how to build a deck.  Also, I hope that all of our readers have a great APRIL FOOLS DAY!

This was pretty intense for an April Fools Joke.  And, it wasn’t even that good. 

Well that’s what I do here.  I go into things fairly deep, but nothing turns out well.

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  • Balasar

    My family was actually thinking about building a deck. Thanks for the help!

  • Ed

    Yeah, I saw this and was like WTF.  Then I got to the pic at the bottom and realized that I am so out of it here at the hospital.  I didn’t even realize it was April already.

    • Anonymous

       lol.  Happy that I got ya.  The sad part was that this was in planning for like 6 months. 

  • Anonymous

    Trollol. Dislike.

  • Anonymous

    I actually told my girlfriend that if she wasn’t too busy with studies, I’d ask her to read an article like this so she can build a deck. Thank goodness she paid little attention to it. XD