The nationwide DIY market is growing quickly, with estimates putting the market in the $14 billion range in coming years. A good DIY project can not only add value to your home but be a great way to bond with friends, spouses, and kids. If you’re thinking about a new deck, some deck building tips will save you time and money.
There are very few renovations that can add measurable value to your home. This is useful whether you’re thinking about reselling or even refinancing in the future. If you need to take out a loan in the future, building a deck now could increase your loan in the future.
If you’re looking to add value and save money on construction, building your own deck is the way to go. Make sure you follow these 6 deck building tips to ensure your project goes off without a hitch.
1. Make The Joist Process Easy
If you end up doing part of the work on your own, you might think you’ll have to struggle to hang joists. A simple jig with a piece of 2×4 and a 5″ x 12″ piece of plywood will allow you to keep work moving when your helper is away.
Attach your 2×4 one inch in from the edge of the plywood like a handle, perpendicular to a long edge of the plywood. Use a couple of nails to mount the handle. This way, you should be able to lay the edge of the plywood on the edge of the frame.
Slide your joists up against the plywood handle and you’ll know how much space to leave. Attach your joists to the frame. Remove your jig and you’ll have a gap that’s perfectly sized to fit a crossbeam.
2. Notch Correctly
Hold your deck boards against your posts as tightly as possible. The post’s location can be transferred to your board with a combination square, which you can then use to measure and mark for depth.
If you want to cut a deck board to fit around a post, you should lay it against the post and mark the notch directly on the board. If there is a twist in the post, the two sides won’t be equal, so be sure to check the size on both sides of your board.
Once you’ve got the measurement down, cut the notch out with a jigsaw.
3. Make a Stair Stringer
If you’re in the midst of putting together a stair stringer, do so as you normally would but just leave it extra long at the top. When you’re about to make space for the rim joist, cut an extra 1.5″ from the top of your riser. Next, cut your stringer where it hits against your second joist.
When you’re doing 2×8 framing, this is a sure bet. if you gut your 2×12 stringers extra long and make sure to secure them between joists, you’ll have a secure setup.
A stair rise that’s about 7″ and with a tread of 11″ makes for a stable staircase. leaving 3.5″ of wood perpendicular to the back of your stringer will keep it from buckling under pressure.
4. Keep Boards Straight
No list of deck building tips would be complete without mentioning that no matter where you shop for your lumber, you’re going to end up with some bowed boards. You should spend hours searching for the straightest boards and sending them through the planer just to have a humid day throw them all off.
Rather than stress about the straightness of your boards, nail them in the right way and you won’t have to worry.
Boards will straighten themselves out if they stay fastened in a certain position for long enough.
Once you set your board, put it down with the bow facing in. Nail down one edge. Then work your way in toward the other end, fastening along the way, to push the bow out of the board.
As long as your house foundation is balanced, you need to also maintain a balanced deck.
5. Deck Board Cuts Need to Be Straight
The edges of all of your deck boards should be perfectly straight. In order to make sure this happens, screw down a straight board on your guide plate to use as a reference for your circular saw.
On every cut, keep your saw plate perfectly parallel to your decking and keep it tightly against the guide.
While you might have the steadiest hand in town, no one is perfect and one cut that’s off from the rest of your boards will be sure to stick out. Murphy’s law dictates that the one cut that goes a little off will for one reason or another be the cut that everyone notices.
There’s no such thing as too much preparation and those details that you’re careful to work out will show themselves off when guests see your deck for the first time.
6. Choose A Perfect Finish
This list of deck building tips needs to also address how to finish your deck once it’s complete.
First, absolutely do not use varnish or polyurethane if you’re finishing a deck that’s going to be in any way exposed to the weather. Heavy rainfall or a lot of sun will destroy your finish quickly.
Consider using a stain. Make sure that you use something that’s built for exterior use. A stain made from “penetrating oils” will ensure that your stain sinks deeply into your wood and lasts for years to come.
Think deeply about the color that you want. The conditions of your climate, how often you use it, and what color your house is could all influence your decision on a deck stain.
Last, but not least, add accessories like a deck box or flower pots to liven it up.
Deck Building Tips Ensure You Measure Twice, Cut Once
There is no such thing as too much preparation when you’re considering building a deck. If you’re going to build it alone, more preparation will ensure that you’re not making multiple trips to the hardware store. You also don’t want to end up halfway through a project as once you stop, it can be hard to start up again.
When you’re finishing up your deck, make sure you take every effort to ensure that you’re also keeping destructive pests from ruining your work.