How to Build a Wood Deck in Your Backyard

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Building a wood deck can make your home more functional for entertaining and relaxing. But, if you’re a beginner, you may end up with a lousy job that can endanger you and your guests.

To avoid this, our woodworking pros will share their guide to build a wood deck in your backyard, so you can ensure you have a safe and aesthetic space for entertaining.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Plan and Prepare the Deck and Space

Thorough planning and reflection on your current and future deck usage is essential. If you’re tight on budget, we recommend constructing a smaller deck and make expansion plans in the future. 

As opposed to building a new deck from the ground up, planning an addition to a current deck is a superior option.

You may have a more lively party on a deck that can house more guests, but such a deck is also more expensive to build, requires more maintenance, and may not even fit in your yard.

A small deck is perfect if you don’t live with a big family or frequently host parties because it creates a more personal setting and a packed dining table is unnecessary.

wooden deck

The layout of the yard and house will also influence how big a deck you can build. Installing posts or grading a yard with a slope might be more of a hassle and require some basic technical knowledge.

Furthermore, one should consider the costs as well. The price of a deck can be doubled if it is elevated above the ground and requires structural support below it and railings on all sides. This adds complexity and additional materials, resulting in a doubling of the overall cost compared to a deck built directly on the ground. While an elevated deck offers improved views and defined outdoor space, it’s essential to consider the associated costs before making a decision.

Trees and other plants in the way might also alter the look and functionality of your deck. Tree removal might be costly based on the size of the tree, but building around it is also a great option. Although time-consuming, it can be rewarding in the end because it creates a unique, natural seating space.

Also Read: How To Spruce Up Your Backyard

Constructing Your Wooden Backyard Deck

Step #1: Install the Ledger

The most vital link in the deck’s chain is the ledger board, which fastens the deck to the house. 

installing deck ledger board

The ledger’s strongest connection is achieved when it is fastened directly to the house’s rim joist; therefore, flashing should be constructed first to protect the structure from water. Drive half-inch lag screws through the ledge and into the rim joist using an impact wrench.

Flash the L-shaped space where the house’s side meets the ledger board with a second coat of flashing. It will keep water from seeping into the middle of the ledger board and the house, where it could cause problems for the structure below and the deck’s edge.

Step #2: Lay Down the Footings, Piers, or Blocks

You can use chalk strings to mark the footings along the deck’s outside corners. This ought to conform to your proposed layout. Place these at 8-foot increments across the front rim joist.

laying down footings and blocks

Below the frost line, a hole should be drilled that is large enough to accommodate the footing form. Place the pier mold in the footing hole and pack earth around it for stability.

Pour concrete into the piers and let it dry for a week. You can install the post hardware or foundation into the wet concrete before the pier cures.

Step #3: Assemble the Rim Joists, Beams, and Interior Joists

Following the deck’s footing gear installation, you can assemble the deck’s frame by fastening together the deck’s internal joists, rim joists, and beams.

assembling rims and joints

The distance between each joist must follow local building requirements. You’ll need joist hanging nails, ties, and brackets to combine the wood parts.

Step #4: Secure With Butyl Deck Tape

Where you’re at with this phase depends heavily on the dimensions of your deck and any other relevant factors. You can utilize the joist hangars to establish connections. You can also drill the boards together.

Use butyl tape liberally on surfaces where you see wood touching wood or wood touching metal. It seals the seams between the deck’s various components to prevent rot, thereby significantly increasing the deck’s lifespan.

securing deck

The four furthest corners have corner bracing for reinforcement. You can strengthen the sides by adding joist beams. [1] This is done as a safety measure to ensure the ends are held in place.

Step #5: Position and Space the Decks

To ensure the decking has adequate support, you should install a joist every 14 to 16 inches. This will ensure that the deck has no vulnerable areas.

To also ensure that the decking runs parallel to the house, you must first position the edge of the first board as so before driving in the bolts. The ends should be left extended on both sides.

securing deck

Assuming you have no idea where the last board will end up, you should work toward the home from the board furthest away.

You should take measurements at each corner as you work your way to the deck’s end to make sure you’re staying on course and will finish with your work parallel to the rim joist.

Step #6: Install the Decks

This is the easy step, but it’s also when the results start to show. For every three boards, measure to see if the length has to be increased by half an inch to three-quarters of an inch.

power drill and wooden boards

After finishing the task, you can use a circular saw to cut a straight line along the fence if an uneven edge is accidentally made. A “bumper” or rail can be constructed along the fence side and back of the deck to prevent grills from ever sliding off the deck.

Step #7: Finish With a Sealer, Stain, or Paint

As the final step, you can use one of these finishes. But if you use pressure-treated wood, you’ll need to let the wood dry out for a while. Otherwise, the boards and paint will eventually crack, so it’s best to allow it to sit for several weeks to settle.

If you sprinkle water over your decking and it disappears into the wood within a minute, it is ready to be stained or painted. The wood is not fully dry if water beads up and remains for an extended time. 

Interesting Reads

Safety Considerations

If your deck is elevated, safety is of the utmost importance. That is true whether you’re starting from scratch or fixing up an existing deck.

backyard deck

At first glance, it may seem like a cheaper alternative to repair an older deck, but a closer look may reveal rotten deck footings or other structural issues. If that’s the case, any new deck you build on top of it is certain to fail and pose a serious risk.

For optimal safety, it is often best to have a new deck designed according to the code. The initial investment may be higher, but your peace of mind is priceless.

Deck Maintenance

You should maintain decks made of natural wood more frequently than plastic or composite materials. Maintenance includes periodic washing, sanding, and staining or painting.

Also, be mindful of heavy furniture or planters that can leave indentations or trap moisture against the wood. Use protective pads or move them around occasionally to allow the deck to breathe.

Cleaning plastic decks and fixing twisted or warped boards is a must.

deck with furnitures

Upgrade your outdoor furniture, install a sound system, and construct a cover or awning to turn your deck into an extension of your living space. These ten accessories can turn your deck into an outdoor oasis.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to build a wood deck in your backyard, you can move your smoker in, invite your friends, and grill steaks. 

Constructing a deck takes time, effort, and knowledge of basic carpentry. But when finished, it will surely increase your home’s resale value and allow you to spend time outdoors in comfort.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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