Enjoying time outside with friends and family on your own deck is a lot of fun! Not only does a deck provide for people-sharing time, it also gives you a third space to just relax and experience the outdoors. Building a deck is not all that hard either. All you need is a design, a plan, materials, and you are ready to create a beautiful space.
Let’s Get Started
The first step in building a platform deck in your backyard off of your home is to find designs that you like. Search the Internet for various deck photos and designs. Visit home shows and local area home and garden stores. Look at the materials that are used to build the deck. Which ones do you like? Which materials are easy to take care of with low maintenance? How easy are the materials to put together? Really get an idea of how you want your deck to look and function.
Once you have a design in mind and you have selected the materials that you want to use to build the deck, go in your backyard or place where you are going to build and start to measure out the space. When designing, think about the ease of getting on-and-off the deck. For example, you probably want to build the deck off the back of your house so that you do not need to step up or down onto the deck. (Most homeowner’s build their deck so that you can open a sliding glass door and step right onto the deck’s surface.)
Not only will you need to measure the deck’s height, but also measure the width and length. Create a deck blueprint showing all accurate measurements. Prior to starting construction, you may need to check with your local building codes. You will need to see if your plan meets these codes and, if they don’t, you will need to adjust your building plan. At this point you may also need to acquire building permits, too.
When you have your deck plan all approved, it is time to buy the materials to build your deck. (Note: these materials are to build a basic platform deck. Your needs may be different.)
Materials needed to build a platform deck include:
- 2 x 6 pressure treated boards (1 board will be used as a ledger board.)
- 2 x 6 cedar decking
- 4 x 4 pressure-treated posts
- metal flashing
- pier blocks
- rustproof deck screws
- 5” lag screws
- joist hangers
- weatherproofing wood stain
Equipment that you will need includes:
- A level
- Measuring tape
- A drill
- Circular saw
Basic Platform Deck Design
These instructions are to build a basic platform deck measuring 20 feet long by 12 feet wide. The deck is attached to the house.
Step 1: Use one of the 2 x 6 pressure treated boards and attach it to your house. This is known as a ledger board and it provides stability for the deck. You may need to remove the siding from your house to attach the board. In this project, the ledger board is 20 feet in length. Attached the ledger board to your house using 3.5” lag screws. Make sure the ledger board is even by using your level.
Step 2: Next, add a drip edge (metal flashing) over the top of the ledger board and underneath the siding on your home. Take your caulking and run it across the seam where the siding and flashing meet.
Step 3: Now we are on to constructing the foundation for your deck. Here you will take your 4 x 4 pressure-treated posts and use them as support beams. Measure 5.5” away from the ledger board, and another 11 feet from the house.
Step 4: Install the pier blocks at these distances. You will need to dig into the ground to create a space a bit larger than the bottom of the pier block. Once you have dug a hole, add gravel to it, then place the pier block on top of the gravel. Check with your local area building code to see the depth of hole and amount of gravel you will need.
Step 5: Now you will install the support beams (the 4 x 4 pressure treated posts) onto the pier blocks. Make sure all beams and blocks are level and perpendicular to the top of the ledger board. Attach the beams to the piers using rust proof deck screws.
Step 6: With this step, you will begin to lay the framework of your deck. Take your time! Accuracy is everything! Using standard face-mounting joist hangers, attach the floor joists to the ledger board using the deck screws. A good building rule of thumb is to place each floor joist 16 inches on center, making adjustments at the end of the deck if needed.
Step 7: When you are finished building the foundation, check all of your work. Make sure it is plumb and level. Make sure every attachment is secure and sturdy. You are now ready to build the surface of the deck.
Step 8: Using screws, attach the decking (2 x 6 cedar decking) to the floor joists. You will want to space each deck plank evenly so that water sheds off the deck itself. An easy way to do this is to take a 16d nail and place it between the planks for even construction. Countersink each screw. After you are finished with construction, you can add stainable wood filler to the holes where the screws are located. When the deck is completely installed, trim off the excess decking with a circular saw. It is a good idea to take a piece of string, accurately mark a straight line on the decking where the excess is located so that you get a nice straight even cut.
Step 9: Sweep or vacuum off the deck of any debris. (You can use a wet/dry vacuum.) Wash the decking per the manufacturer’s recommendations. The decking needs to be clean and dry before you start the staining process.
Step 10: Select a stain that will work on the wood you used to build your deck. On a dry and sunny day, apply the stain according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You may need to apply two coats of stain, so it is a good idea to do this work when you know the weather will be dry for a few days in a row.
Your deck should now be ready for you to add outdoor furniture, potted plants, an umbrella, etc.