There are many things you should consider when building a deck. A great deck plan is essential to the deck building process. The size of the deck and the anchor system you will use are a small portion of the details you will need in a deck plan. I will assume you have chosen a deck plan and we will move straight to the heart of the matter. You have a plan for building the deck and you have clearly planed the anchor points and the foundation requirements now you are ready to build. Well almost. What will you build your deck out of? If you are uncertain of the best materials to use for building a deck or need a push in the right direction read on.
A deck should be considered as an addition to your home. Built properly a deck will increase the value of your home and provide many hours spent living in the outdoors. Built poorly and a deck will be a headache to maintain and could quite possibly suffer system failure. At the very least using poor materials will get you a few splinters when you are drinking your morning coffee. A deck should last many years and provide countless hours of enjoyment. Building a deck out of quality materials is an investment in your future.
As with any construction project the most important parts to consider are good boots, and a good hat. What I mean is every construction project should start with a good foundation and end with a good roof. Decks typically don't have a roof and so the foundation needs to be excellent. The foundation should include concrete footers and the appropriate sized pressure treated lumber. I can't caution enough about the use of pressure treated lumber. Pressure treated lumber is the only lumber you should use when building anything out doors. This lumber is designed to withstand the elements, and when building a deck you want to make sure the finished project will last for many years to come.
Using the right sized lumber will minimize the risk of system failure and accidents. You will calculate the dimension of your lumber by the choice of foundation. Many people use a standard deck plan since these dimensions are pre-calculated. If you are designing your own deck plan these tips will give you an idea of the rules for deck building. The main costs for a deck are concrete footers and lumber. You should decide where you want to spend your money based on how you can acquire the materials. If you are a concrete contractor (or if you know one) you can probably get concrete pretty cheap, the same could be said with lumber and a construction worker. If you are neither and just want a nice deck then here is the rule of thumb. The size of the beam is determined by the amount of footers in any given span. If you are only pouring footers at the corners then you will need a very hefty beam. The more footers you pour to support the beams the smaller the beams can be in dimension.
The next element of deck building is joists. You will always choose pressure treated lumber as the lumber will be outdoors and exposed to the elements. These are the supports that run horizontal to your beams. Deck lumber can range in size from 2x6 to 2x10. Spacing of your joists can range from 12 inches oc (on center) to 24 inches oc. If you are planning a deck the size of the titanic you should use 2x10's and place on 12 inch centers. The smaller the deck is the smaller your lumber dimensions and the farther you can place the boards apart. If you are unsure at this stage consult a local lumber yard they can point you in the right direction. Give them a detailed explanation of your deck, and in no time you will have all the lumber you need for your project.
Now we are on to deck boards. Deck boards are normally 2x4 or 2x6 pressure treated pine. The deck boards are the boards that form the platform on which you will stand. Chosse the boards depending upon how you want the deck to look. If you want wider planks then you would choose 2x6's. You will use more 2x4's to complete the project but it will normally equal the same amount of money as if you had bought 2x6's. What you choose will depend on how many spaces you want between your boards and how wide you want the boards to be. If you simply cant choose then incorporate both widths in a pattern.
Invest in a good set of deck spacers. It would be terrible to spend all the money to make this addition only to find out that you have laid your deck boards crooked. The same can be said for deck stain and deck sealer. Use a quality deck stain and a quality sealing product to ensure the health and life of your deck. Use the recommended amount of coats for each product. It may seem like a lot of work now but applying the right amount of the products will lower the maintenance you must perform.
If you want a low maintenance solution for the boards of your deck consider using composite decking. Composite decking is made from wood and plastic and comes in a variety of colors. Composite decking is cast to look like real wood however it doesn't require any paint or stain. It is strong enough to hold the weight of a jacuzzi and you are guaranteed not to get a splinter from it.
Composite decking can be ordered online from a variety of companies and you may be able to locate it at the big distribution centers. Lowe's and Home Depot as well as local lumber companies can often times order a product that will meet your needs. Order your composite decking early in the building process so that your order can arrive on time and you will not meet with building delays.