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Building your own deck is a relatively uncomplicated task that two people can easily finish over the course of two sunny weekends. You do not need any special equipment, just regular framing tools: hammer, shovel,
level, safety goggles, socket or crescent wrench, etc. Before you get started, check with your local town council to find out if you need a building permit.
When picking your materials, it is important to take into consideration how well they will resist the elements. All of your fasteners should be hot dipped galvanized, and your wood should be redwood, cedar, cypress, or pressure treated. Your decking joists can be 2" by 6", 8" or 10", and the decking boards should be 2" by 4" or 6".
Once you have assembled all of your equipment and materials, you are ready to start. Begin by attaching a board to your house for your decking joists to connect to. The height of this depends on how you are going to attach them. You can get joist hangers and hang the joists from the board or you can attach the boards to the top of your board. Figure that you will want to step down from the interior of the house at least one inch when coming out onto the deck, and take into consideration the thickness of your decking boards and your joists. This will give you the height to affix your board. Use lag screws to attach the board to your wall, making sure that the screws go into a solid part of the wall (a stud or floor joist). You should plan on pre-drilling the holes in your board and on the house. Before you begin adding your joist, you may want to apply a coat of waterproofing to the cut ends of your board.
Next, apply your two outer floor joists, covering the cut edge of your support board with it. Support the end of the joists with a 2 by 4 or other piece of lumber, this will mark the spot for your foundation piers. If you have never set a foundation before, you may want to enlist the help of someone who has, as this is a major structural element in the deck. The plans should detail the exact location of the piers, and with your two end joists in place, you should have no trouble locating them. Once you have dug your hole, you are ready to pour your concrete. For most small to average size decks you will find it easier to buy bags of concrete at your hardware store and mix it yourself. Once your posts have set, you can construct you girders. Make sure that your post are the correct height, probably equal to the bottom of the floor joist. Attach your girder to the posts. You will then want to attach your remaining decking joists to the girders. The joists should go on 24" centers and be attached with joist hangers.
You are now ready to apply your decking boards. Before you do that, there is one more thing to consider. If you live in an area with heavy rain or snow, you may want to affix flashing to the tops of your joists, under your decking boards. This will prevent moisture from becoming trapped and rotting the wood prematurely. Las you begin to nail down your deck boards remember to leave a small space between the house and the deck, as well as between each decking board, to allow for runoff. Once all of your boards are down, you can go back and cut them even with the joists. By waiting and doing this at one time, everything is even and will create a very "finished" look. Pain all exposed ends and cuts with waterproofing. All that is left to do now is get a cold glass of ice tea, sit back, and enjoy.