Introduction: How to Build a Deck
I've built two different decks on my house and I'm getting ready to start a third. Each of my deck plans were "out of my head". In other words, I didn't have any plans to use nor had I ever attempted any project of this size. I'm fairly good with tools and have a basic grasp of math. I will try and outline each (in seperate instructables) of the two decks since they are each totally different. Also, I live in the south where I don't have to deal with a frost line. Be aware of this if building where ground frost (freezing) is a factor.
My first deck was a free standing deck. (Not attached to any other structure) I consider a deck to be a piece of real estate and the first rule is: Location Location Location! I knew basically where I wanted my deck but wasn't real sure of the configuration so I staked a couple of 2x4's out and adjusted them to fit what I wanted. Also, by placing some lawn furniture inside I was able to get a much better feel for space allotment once finished. I also had an existing fence and I wanted the deck and fence to compliment each other.
NOTE: You will find that throughout my project [s] I tend to be the king of over-kill when it comes to construction. Many people have told me this project could have been done much easier and cheaper,but I hate to scrimp. AND you could drive a Semi on my deck and it won't collapse.
Now that I knew basically where the deck was going to go and the rough diminsions, I needed to consider other factors, such as drainage, lighting and access (to deck).
This area (and other area's too) of my yard had serious drainage problems. Water would not drain so the back and side yard (you'll see the side yard later with the second deck) would flood with the slightest rainfall. I decided to put a French drain in with some side drainage .
Next I layed my deck area out in quadrants so I knew where my support posts would go, where my deck access would be and how my drainage would run through it.
I continued with digging my post holes and laying out my French and side drains. I dug my support posts holes 16" deep and spaced them 3' apart. This deck is approx 14' square. I'm using 4x6's for posts since I already had scraps of them.
Next I dug a 2x3' hole about 16" deep and trenched for drain pipe to an existing drain in the corner. I wraped my 3" pvc pipe in landscaping cloth (to keep the dirt out), laid rock in base of trench and filled French drain with rock and then finished by covering it all with more rock. I also ran an additional drain line along the back edge all flowing to the existing drain. I set all of my posts, marked them with a chalk line and line level, and cut them all off even.
Next I attached steel brackets made for 4x4's and laid my support boards (2x6's) along them. (Learning as I go, I cut slices from 4x4's to fill the gap between the 2x6's so my support boards would not squeeze in when I attached to them). Complete the frame in.
I decided to put rails along two sides with lattice to match the fence. I set up my router and cut grooves for the lattice to slide down into, attached the posts using carriage bolts and tied everything together with a facial skirt. As an afterthought I decided to cover a small portion of the carport concrete slab that protruded into the yard, i.e., I took the edge of the deck right up to the fence so there would not be a space between the fence and deck where someone could possibly fall off into. Then I added all of the interior framing for strength and support.
I then removed the 4x4 rail post so it was easier to install the 5/4x6" deck boards. I decided to run the deck boards diagonally so I ended up with a seam on the deck surface since I couldn't buy deck boards longer than 14'.
After both front edges were covered I snapped a chalk line, cut my edges straight and reinstalled my rail post. Then I completed the deck surface.
Next I routed my rail boards so the lattice would have three grooves to rest in, cut the lattice to fit (leaving 2" short on bottom so leaves would blow out easily) and installed the top rail.
Finished and drank a beer!