How to Build a Deck: Our Top Tips
Summer is on the way, and many people love to relax on their wooden deck structures out in the garden. If you haven’t got a composite deck already, though, then you might be wondering about how to build a deck yourself. Fortunately, we are here to help you get your head around the process of building decks.
Here at Best of Machinery (all rights reserved), we have put together a guide to everything you will need in order to make a deck for your garden, from posts to wood to lumber and materials and the tools you may need to use. Our top tips on building a deck are below – read on to find out more about how to build a deck for your house!
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Home Deck?
One of the biggest worries many people have about deck building is that of cost. The cost of lumber, cutting, tools, and other materials all add up, as does the cost in terms of time, or in terms of hiring a professional rather than doing it yourself at home if that is how you want to do things. What if you want to add stairs to your home decking? What if you want to make the deck bigger than usual? These features and many more can affect how much it costs for building a deck.
On average, you can expect a deck to cost around $25 per square foot of deck. If you are building using basic, cheap materials, then you might be able to knock it down to $15 per square foot of deck, and if you build using premium deck boards, then you can expect to pay more like $35 per square foot of deck.
For a normal-sized composite deck, the minimum price is usually somewhere around $1200. The national average is around $6000, and the maximum for most standard decks is somewhere in the area of $14000! In most cases, though, you can expect to spend between $3600 and $8400 on deck building.
Can I Build a Deck Directly on the Ground?
Fortunately, you don’t need to use foundations if you are planning to make a deck outside your home. There are two options for building decks on the ground in your garden, with important differences. One of them is a quick, easy option, but your deck will suffer from weathering. The other is more complicated and time-consuming but is likely to give a longer lifespan to your deck boards.
Either you can choose to build your deck directly on the ground, which will make it more at risk of absorbing water and damaging the wood, or you can build it on top of riser posts, which is more difficult but will keep the wood safer. If you want to build your deck directly on the ground, then start by laying out a layer of weed control material before you begin to build. Then, spread a layer of gravel over the top – 50mm or so should be enough. After that, you can lay out the deck frame and post corners and get started on building around those corner posts!
Because it is so close to the ground, decking built this way will absorb moisture from the ground and damage the wood. This means you will need to be more careful about maintenance for this type of deck, particularly with regards to the wood of the frame, Varnishing and sealing the wood is very important if you do not want your deck to warp and fall apart!
How many Posts do I need for a 10 x 10 Deck?
A 10 x 10 deck frame is quite a small one, so it does not need as many posts as a larger deck, like a 20 x 20 deck area. There are a couple of options that you might want to be aware of, though.
At a minimum, you will need only 4 posts for a 10 x 10 deck. You can set these 2 feet in from the corners with cantilevers, and hold the deck up without needing to make too many post holes for your 10 x 10 deck. Alternatively, you could use more posts for a sturdier design, but a bit more work digging post holes. With 9 posts, you can set up 3 rows of 3 evenly spaced posts around your decks’ edges, and one in the center. This will be much more stable and reliable but will require more than twice as many post holes to be dug, which is a lot more work for anyone. Once it is done, though, it will make for a lovely and long-lasting deck set-up outside your house.
Our Top Tips
There are many different pieces of information you might want to know before you start to get to work on building your new decks. Every source will offer different tips, from how far away from your house to build decks to how many feet you should leave between one post and the next post. These, however, are our top tips for the process of building new decks outside your house. No matter how experienced you may be with building decking, you may well find a use for some of these tips around your house and garden!
Building Stable Stairs
Deck stairs are often much more wobbly than any flight of steps in your house. There is not much in the way of support to attach your stairs to, with no support joists or spare posts available. However, if you have some solid spare wood planks available, then you can put together some solid new support frame pieces for your decking steps. Put a skirt under your stair risers and around the sides of your staircase, and it will hold everything up much more securely without needing to use a post for each step!
Use Solid Joists for Strength
If you are not careful, you may find that your decking boards split at the ends where they are nailed. If you use thick joists at all of the seams, however, then your ledger board planks will stay in much better shape. With thick enough joists to keep your fastening nails away from the edge of the planks, you will be able to keep everything much smoother and reduce the risk of warping and cracking in your composite decking. Thinner joists are enough to hold up decking in most cases, but they can lead to the nails being too close to the end. The thicker and sturdier your joists are, the sturdier your deck will be! Consider how thick the joists in your house are and aim for something a bit smaller than that.
Avoid Miter Joints
As soon as you set up a wooden construction outdoors, the wood of your ledger board will begin to shrink. That is unavoidable, and just something you will have to deal with. The problem comes when you set up your deck with miter joints at the corners. As these shrink, the joint will pull apart, leaving the corners of your deck looking wonky and amateurish as it ages. Butt joints might not look as sharp, to begin with, but they will age much better as your ledger board shrinks and warps over time, keeping your deck looking great for far longer.
They might not look like much, but construction screws are an incredibly powerful tool in your arsenal for constructing a deck. You’ve probably already tried lag screws, as this is what most people recommend using to hold a deck together, but they are a lot more work than they have to be.
Construction screws can be relied on not to split wood, so you won’t have to predrill holes in order to use them. They aren’t a cheap option for putting together your deck, but they are sure to save you a fair bit of time and effort, and they hold your deck together just as well as a lag screw!
Check the Grain on your Joists
When you are putting together a deck, you will want to be certain that all the boards used in your deck will stay as straight as a ruler without twisting or bending, which could ruin the surface of your deck.
Check the grain on the ends of your 4 x 4 joists. If you can see the center of a tree pattern at the end of the board, then don’t buy that one! A joist made from the center of a tree is likely to twist over time, warping your deck and ruining the deck surface completely. You will want to avoid these for your deck, using 4 x 4s cut from the side of a tree for deck construction instead.
Putting together a deck can be a big project, but it is often a very satisfying one, and a well-built deck can bring you pleasure for years to come. Hopefully, our tips above can give you an advantage when you set out to build your new deck, helping you to put that deck together smoothly and effectively with as few defects as possible!