As you prepare to add decking to your home there are key steps you need to follow. Every masterpiece requires due diligence and adequate planning and decking is no different. 1 joint askew, a minor indiscretion and your deck will collapse like a house of cards. Let’s get this right first time.
We’ll assume you’ve researched to see if your city or state requires certain permits before proceeding. Next, you need to be armed with the materials, patience and wherewithal to follow the plan.
Now you may want to design the deck yourself, which is a great way to add a personal touch to the exterior of your home. However, if you do not feel comfortable creating one from scratch, you may be able to acquire a plan at your local hardware store. In most cases, the stores will include a plan along with the lumber that you purchase. Ask to see if this service is available in your area. Once you have these steps taken care of, you can move on to building your deck!
Define The Area
As you lay out your decking, pay attention to how you position the boards. Make sure they are parallel to your home. Begin away from the home as possible and work inward. It is possible that toward the end of the project, one of the boards will need to be ripped. If that board is placed close to the house, most of your family and friends will not take a second look at it. However, the farther the board is from the structure of the home, the more it will stand out like a sore thumb. Finally, make sure the decking is laid so that it is at a right angle to the joists.
Make sure that you have a double joist on hand. You might not ever use this piece, but if you don’t have it, your project could become quite a bit more complicated. As you are laying out the deck, you may wind up with multiple joints next to one another. They each need to be on the joist, which is where a double joist will come into play. If you don’t have access to one, you have to nail both ends of the board onto just the single joist. This can get tricky because it is possible for the board to split.
Proper spacing is crucial. There needs to be about 1/8 of an inch between each board. That small amount of space allows water to drain and other debris to fall through. If the boards are any closer together, you run the risk of clogs. If you are having trouble attaining the proper spacing, simply take an extra nail and put it beside the board that you just laid down. Then, put the next board on the other side of the nail. The boards will be the correct distance from one another.
Both wood and composite decking can split. Therefore, you have to be careful with each board that you lay down. If you see that one of your boards is bowed, take special care with it. Use a screw on one end to get it into place, and then take a crow bar to the rest of it. Make sure the board is screwed in at the joists, and apply pressure to work the board into the right spot.
As you move on with the rest of the deck, continually look back at your progress to make sure that everything is aligned and in the right place. You want the deck to be “running square;” if the alignment is not correct, don’t try and make it right all on the next row.
Instead, use the next few rows to get things back to the way they should be. As you finish each row, you may not need an entire board to cover the last of the available space. If that happens, you can just us a 2X4 instead. Remember, the deck probably won’t be perfect. The boards themselves usually aren’t exactly straight. Therefore, put forth your best effort, and you should be satisfied with the results.
Sharpen the Saw
Once the boards are down, there is still more work to be done. One side of your deck will be perfect, but you will have to go to the other side and trim the boards so that they are the correct length. Make a mark on the end joists; snapping a chalk line may be the easiest way to ensure the line is straight. Use a circular saw, and trim off the excess wood.
Take care to set the correct cutting edge on the saw; it should be just as thick as the deck is so that you do not damage the end joists. You may find it easier to secure a 1X4 and use it to guide the saw as it cuts. This takes some of the pressure off of you, as you won’t have to focus all of your energy on making sure that you are following the chalk line exactly.