With the economy fluctuating like it has in past few years, more and more people are starting to do whatever it takes to become handymen or handywomen. Just paying for the materials alone and not the labour has made it more affordable to do much needed renovations. Fences and decks are two key components to really revamping your back yard. A new fence and deck, especially a deck can make your back yard a hotspot for the summer. Depending on the size or the design, it is something that you can do yourself.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what your local building code is. For example, if you’re building a deck over 6 feet, there are different regulations that you need to follow. Do you need guard rails? Will you be doing this in the front or back yard? All of these factors will affect how you will build it. The nice thing about local building codes is that they usually come in a downloadable PDF file that will nicely explain everything that is required for the job. Most new projects will require permits that can be obtained at the same spot.
Once you have figured out your design, bought your materials, and are sure that you are within building code, it’s time to build! One little useful hint: never do minimum code. In some areas, minimum code for joists on a deck is 2 x 8 inches (38 X 184mm). For a little bit of extra money, why not step it up one size and buy 2 x 10 inch joists (38 X 235mm). This will make it a lot stronger and not hit you too hard in the wallet.
First you will need to install concrete piles or engineered screw piles. Concrete is cheaper but doesn’t have the longevity of a metal screw pile. If using a concrete pile, make sure you have a minimum of 4 feet (1.2m) down to insure no shifting. This will depend on the climate of where you are building.
Next install your ledger board. If you have bought a new house, there should already be one installed for you. Your deck will be depending on this ledger board for a lot of weight so make sure it’s really secured. Use 4 to 5-inch screws (10mm) to fasten it down. Put four screws in the board starting at the top to the bottom roughly every 15 inches (380mm). This will really ensure that the ledger board is on safely.
Next, mount a laser level to the bottom of the ledger board. Make sure that the laser is flush with the bottom of the board. This is going to help you to see how high your 4 X 6 inch posts (89 X 140mm) will be. Once you have got it flush with the bottom of the ledger board, turn it so that it shines the laser over top of your piles. Measure the distance of the top of the pile to where the laser flashes on the tape. Whatever that measurement is will let you know the height of the bottom of the joists. Take that measurement and minus whatever the height of your beam material is. For example, if you measured 15 inches (381 mm) and the size of your beam material was 9.5 inches (241mm) you would cut your post on that pile to 5.5 inches (140mm). Once you have done this for your piles, you are ready to make the beam.
However wide your deck is will tell you how wide your beam is. For example, if you are building a 10-foot (3 meters) wide deck, you will have a 10-foot wide beam. To ensure your deck will support a lot of weight, use a 3 ply 2 X 10-inch beam (38 X 235mm). The 3 ply means that you will be screwing three 2 X 10’s together like a sandwich. Once you’re done, set your beam on the three post that you cut.
Next, install your two outside joists. Don’t worry about cutting any of your joists, you will do this once you are done. Once the outside joists are squared, cut off any of the beam that will stick out on either side of the deck. Next, mark out the joists starting from the left to right side at 16 inches on center. Do this on the ledger board and the beam.
Once this is done, start installing the joists. Attach it with two screws to the ledger board and two screws to the beam. The screws on the ledger board are temporary. After the joists are installed, you will go back and install the joist hangers. Once you have installed the joist hangers and all the joists are secured, you’re ready to cut them. Measure from the ledger board to the beam on the outside joists to the desired length of your deck. For example, if it’s 8 feet (2.4 meters), mark it on the two outside joists. Once marked, snap a chalk line on those two marks. Next, on the chalk line of every joist, square off the line and cut it with a skill saw. This will ensure a nice flush line with your end board. Once this is done, pick a nice straight 2 X 10-inch board and screw it to the end of the joists. Make sure the joists are flush with this board.
Next, start installing the decking boards. Make it easier on yourself by letting the boards hang over. You can cut the excess off once you’re done installing them all. This will make the line nice and straight with all the boards being flush. Make sure when your screwing the boards down that there are two screws for every joist. This will prevent squeaky boards.
Building a deck can be done. It just takes some time and a lot of planning. There are a lot of videos available as well. If building a deck seems too daunting, then you can always hire a contractor like the professionals at The 2 Men Property Services.
<Back to our Handyman Services page