Are you a DIY expert and thinking about building your new deck yourself? Use the list below as a helpful guide as you begin your project!
Plan, Plan, Plan
You don’t necessarily need to hire a contractor or architect to design your deck, but do your research and due diligence planning out the design of your deck. Start by carefully reviewing the boundaries of your property. If the information you have is not complete, hire a surveyor.
Make sure you get the appropriate permits from the city/county/state so you are aware of the guidelines you must meet.
You can find technical information and installation instructions for all of our Green Bay Decking products here.
Before you begin:
- Will you need stairs? Where will they come from? Where will they lead?
- How will you access your deck? From what room or door from the house? From where in the yard?
- How high do you want your deck to be? Does it need to line up with a specific door on the house? What is going to go underneath your deck? (If you plan on storage space, look at DuxxBak!)
- What kind of railing do you need or want?
Be sure to allow for any necessary utility hook-ups, and mark off these areas before beginning to build.
Choose a Style
Inspiration is at your fingertips from online to magazines to books and even TV. You may want to invest in specialized books and magazines to find a tried and tested deck design. These plans should be drawn up in detail, and in most cases, must be approved by your local building or zoning board.
Some deck styles to consider:
Tiered – Tiered decks allow you to create various areas for eating, relaxing, swimming and playing. These decks are typically very visually appealing but require stairs and are more complicated to build, especially if you are a beginner.
Elevated – This type of deck may offer a great view, but is not necessarily safe for children and can be less private if you’re close to your neighbors. Also, decks that are more than two feet off the ground should always have a railing. Fortunately, we have several railing options that work with all of our deck products.
Ground Level – A ground level deck blends into the environment and makes your yard look larger. Basically, it is low to the ground! These can sometimes be easier to build since there are less, if any, stairs, no to little elevation. They also are typically safer for young children.
Next, think about your foundation. Ask the following questions:
- What type of soil are you working with?
- Is your yard level or not?
- Will the deck be anchored to the house or set apart from it?
- What type of deck would you like to build?
- Are you prepared to excavate?
- What is your budget?
Answering these questions will help you choose between the following foundations:
- Concrete piers with sills
- Concrete piers without sills
- Prefabricated deck blocks
- Foundation piles or screws (no digging required)
Size and Space
Typically, we suggest about four to five feet per person regularly using the deck, and add some extra room for guests. Also, are you planning on having a full table, a hot tub or other furniture that will take up space? These are all things to consider as you decide on how large your deck needs to be for maximum enjoyment.
The orientation of your deck is important. Plan and position your deck in relation to the sun’s position in your yard during the summer and don’t forget to consider the location of trees and other factors, such as sheds and garages. Avoid wind by locating your deck where the house will provide some protection, and be careful not to place your deck under a gum-dripping spruce or nut-bearing tree. You may also want to consider the line of sight from your neighbors’ houses.
Do Your Homework
Once you’ve drawn up your deck plan, you should take a close look at your home and yard to be sure your dream deck has the potential to become a reality. You can do this yourself, or hire a professional inspector. Find out if the exterior walls of your home are sturdy enough to support a structure such as this, if support is necessary. Check the drainage and grading of the area where the deck will be built and fix any problems before work begins. Next, become familiar with various building materials, and take the time to learn how decks are built.
Take your project plan to your local building inspector. He or she will review your plans and advise you of any necessary changes. The inspector will also advise you of any special permits and building requirements required for your area. Take notes and ask for copies of special instructions relating to your project. Make sure to become familiar with the procedures for setting inspection dates.
Buy the Appropriate Tools
Let’s go shopping! Be sure to bring your deck plan, and all your critical measurements. Most home improvement stores have service people who can look at your plan and help you purchase the right supplies. Often times your local deck supplier will be a better resource than a larger box store when it comes to expert advice.
More than likely you will need the following items:
- Caulking compound
- Pre-mixed concrete
- Gravel or crushed stone
- Cinder blocks
- Post caps
- Post bases
- Seismic ties
- Joist hangers
- Cardboard tube concrete forms
- Ring-shank spiral-groove nails
- Joist hanger nails
- HDG bolts or lag screws, and washers
- Carpenter’s level
- Carpenter’s square
- Plumb bob
- Wheelbarrow (for mixing concrete)
- Caulking gun
- Wrench (to tighten lag screws)
- Circular saw
- Tape measure
- Safety glasses
- Scrap lumber for bracing
And don’t forget to keep your receipts!