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Deck Building Tips

Updated on July 14, 2010

Building a deck around your home can result in a great way to enjoy friends and family in an outdoor setting. Decks can be constructed from a variety of materials, from wood to composite materials, and there are hundreds of deck products. The methods of building a deck, though, remain the same.

Attaching the Deck to the House

When attaching the deck to the house, bolts should always be used. Screws just are not strong enough to withstand the constant shifting that the deck will endure over the years. Plus, bolts are able to hold a substantial amount more weight. The deck runner board that attaches to the house should be attached with bolts every 16 to 24 inches to the foundation or the rim joist of the house.

Deck Boards

There are standard treated wood or cedar deck boards that look great initially, but need to be sealed and washed every few years in order to keep them looking new. Composite material deck boards are made of a composite of plastic and wood products, but will last forever with minimal fading and no chipping or slivering. The difference in price between wood and composite deck boards is about double for composite.

Because composite is no maintenance and installs the same as standard deck boards, composite decking is the smart choice for every homeowner.

Railings

There are a lot of varieties of railings. The most important thing is that they do their job and keep everyone from falling over the edge. The railing is supposed to withstand 200 lbs of pressure to prevent even larger adults from breaking the railing.

Railings can be made of aluminum, steel, glass, wire, wood, or composite. Wood and composite deck rails are the most common, but there are some easy to install prefabricated systems that are becoming more popular. Anything other than wood will be more expensive, but if you have a view of the ocean or lake, you may not want that obstructed by anything so the glass panels would be a great choice.

Structure

A deck structure should never be supported by less than 2x8 inch floor joists 24 inches on center apart. Ideally, all decks should be constructed with 2x10 inch floor joists 16 inches on center.

Reference
  • "Home Improvement 1-2-3," by John Wiley & Sons, 2008
  • "Build Like A Pro: Building A Deck," by Scott Shuttner, 2002
Resource
  • "The Illustrated Home," by Carson, Dunlop, & Associates

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