Tips For Building A Basic Deck
Building a deck isn't hard, nearly anyone can do it!
I'm not sure why building a basic deck is so intimidating to so many people. A Deck can not only add an extra element of enjoyment, but it can increase the value of your home. Well, it can if it's built correctly and if it's pleasing to the eye. No one wants an ugly, weathered and unsafe deck on their property!
Here's a few tips I try and give people before they start building their deck. These tips may sound simple, but they can add years to the life of your deck, help your construction go smoother and make your finished deck or gazebo look like a professional built it!
Before you begin, by all means get a plan. There are scores of places online to make your own building plan. All you'll need to know is the diminsions that you'll want your deck to be. If you're still having problems with this, stop by several lumber yards. Many times the people there will create a building plan for you as well as print you off a material list along with the cost of all the materials!
The next tip I have for you is to not try and go cheap on your building materials. I see it time and time again, people trying to save a buck by buying budget lumber or low grade lumber. You're not going to have a product last long with cheap lumber. When purchasing your materails, you'll want to buy the very best you can. This means composite materials such as Trex or premium grade lumber. #2 grade is the minimum you should purchase!
Composite materials are great and are probably the utmost perfect building material for Gazebos, docks and decks. But they're also more expensive than other traditional materials. Composite boards are usually made out of recycled materials such as old tires, etc. They last a lot longer than tradition lumber when properly cared for and installed per manufacturers guidelines.
A word about fasteners. Whatever you do, do not use nails in the surface boards of your lumber! Nails have a tendency to back out over time. Even ring shanked nails will do this to an extent. I only use nails when using brackets. On everything else I use #9 deck screws with a star head. My most common length is the 2 1/2" screws but on ocassion I'll use the 3" deck screws.
Avoid any deck screw that doesn't have a star head. Phillips head screws are a nightmare to work with properly. You'll end up damaging the head of the screw as well as the screwdriver head. This is why most Pro's you see will be using star drive bits or square drive bits. They won't slip as much and you'll get done at a decent time!
Finally, all good deck construction pro's seal the cut ends of their lumber. If you're using composite lumber, this isn't an issue. But if you're using wood, the cut ends need sealed. The pressure treatment does not go completely through the wood. This means when you cut a piece of lumber, the interior of the board is left unprotected from the weather and insects. This is also the case when you over drive a screw. You're leaving the interior unprotected. This is why it's important to seal all cut ends and over driven screw heads.
Once your deck is built, you'll want to wait a few months and then apply a good deck sealer or paint it. I normally like to do this in the Summer. So if you build your deck in the late Fall or Winter, just wait a few months till it warms up to handle this chore. If you build it in the Spring, I normally wait two months at a minimum before apply sealer or painting.
Following these basic tips should have your new deck looking like you paid a Professional deck builder to do it! You're friends and family will be impressed as well they should be!