A backyard deck is a great home improvement project which will not only add practical, outdoor living space, but also add value to your home. Building a deck is a popular project for do-it-yourselfers, yet this doesn’t mean that it is a simple or quick project.
Building a deck is both physically demanding and tedious, and requires exact measurements and cuts. If you think you’re up to the job, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before getting your project underway:
1. Make sure you have the correct tools to get the job done properly. Having the proper tools, with sharpened blades and safety extension cords will not only make your job easier, but safer, as well.
2. Use only hot-dipped galvanized nails, bolts, screws and fasteners to prevent rust. You may also use aluminum or stainless steel fasteners, although hot-dipped galvanized fasteners are much less expensive.
3. Choose your wood wisely, and use only decay-resistant wood such as redwood, cedar, cypress or pressure-treated wood. Check for warped or bent planks. (Here are some tips on weather proofing a deck)
4. Pay close attention to local codes and ordinances and obtain the proper permits from your city, township or municipality. The codes and ordinances will clearly identify such points as: space between the railings; the railing heights; the size, space, number and method of installing the foundation piers; the girder; the joists; the decking; the posts; and the fasteners.
5. Pay close attention to the location of your deck. Local codes and ordinances will provide direction regarding property lines and utility easements, such as gas, water, and sewage lines.
6. Before choosing the location of your deck, check the drainage and grading of the area and make changes and/or improvements where necessary. View your proposed deck from various angles and check such things as sun exposure and privacy factors. You may want to rethink your deck if it is in full view of the street, for example.
7. Use graph paper to sketch your deck and properly plan for its size and location.
8. Decide upon a budget and stick to it. Don’t begin making major modifications and additions to your deck midway through the project, as your budget can quickly spin out of control.
9. Decide upon the purpose of your deck. If you have existing deck furniture, design it to accommodate the furniture. If you plan on entertaining and hosting parties, you’ll need to plan the size of your deck accordingly. You may also want to consider your yard space, as well. How important is it to you to maintain your yard space?
10. Always double-check your measurements and always check or level and plumb as the project progresses.
11. Plan on renting a dumpster if you have to tear down an existing deck. Enlist the help of family and friends to help with the tear-down.
12. Consider treating or staining your wood deck for added protection or to maintain its color and appearance.
13. Always use safety equipment and remember to always wear safety goggles.