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Decks and Patios Deck Construction
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If you are in need of a new deck or thinking about adding one, you will love the ability to walk outside and sit in the sun or shade while being able to look out over your yard. Depending on the size of deck you choose, you can have planters and seats added choose one large enough for furniture, a barbecue grill, or even a Jacuzzi. If you prefer something more intimate, you can add lattice on one side to block out neighbors, install a nice wall waterfall, and enhance the deck with flowers for a place of serenity.

If you plan to build your own deck, you will need to first clear the area of any debris and ensure the ground below is clean, smooth, and level. The area of the deck will be marked off so you have a guide to see the size and position of the deck once built. For the string, you need to attach it to batter board and then hammered into the ground, making sure it is perfectly level. With a felt tip pen, put a mark on the string about every three from the corner going in one direction and then going the other direction, mark every four inches. When you connect these two points from a diagonal position, you will have five inches. If you do not have five inches, you will need to move the string attached to the board just a little to the left or right. This is how you will ensure the position of the deck is perfectly square.

Next, the dirt under where the deck will go has to be cleaned of any rocks, weeds, and so on. Clean the area extending two fee from the marked off deck. When you are finished, if you need to plant sod, you can. You then want to attach a ledger or header board to the deck. This placement is what will determine the deck floor level so make sure you have it placed correctly for height and horizontal position. When you get ready to fasten the ledger to the wood, it needs to be held in place with bolts. Then use aluminum flashing so no water gets behind the boards. Tuck the flash under the siding, bending it down over the ledger and then down the front of the ledger, cutting any excess away from the house.

Remember that the ledger boards should be about one and one-half inched from the final height of the deck. Now you will dig holes between 24 and 35 inches deep for the footings. The posts should be deeper than the frost line for where you live, which is identified by the building code. To make this process easier, you can rent a post digger for about $50 a day.

To pressure treat the wood while in the ground, simply fill the bottom of the hole with approximately six inches of gravel. Then place a wood footer plate on top of the gravel. Position the posts in the hole and then fill it with alternating layers of five inches of gravel and dirt, firmly tamping down each layer until the hole is finally filled to be even with the ground. If you prefer, you can also fill the hole with concrete.

The next step is to secure the beams to the post. Use a piece of string and a leveler. Determine the deck height you want on the posts and then subtract the thickness of the joist so you can confirm the correct height. Mark all four sides of the posts and then fasten them to the beam, making sure to keep them flush. Now you will attach the joists, which are attached with joist hangers to the house or supported by the ledger board. The joists are placed on 16 or 24-inche centers and then attached to the beams and ribbon joist.

Now, you want to install the deck board. For this, you will need hot-dipped zinc-coated 16-penny nails and another different. Start by separating the boards with a small finish nail used as a spacer. Keep in mind that the surface is very important, as it is what people will walk on and see. Start by setting the boards end to end on the joists. If you find that the decking is not long enough for the entire deck, you can stagger the butt-end joists.

Once you have nailed the boards into place, you can trim the deck. You do not want any overhang past one and one-half inches and for a nice, clean look, make the ends flush to the joist or you can simply add a fascia board. Now the posts for the railing are installed, which help support the deck. You can use spacer posts or intermittent posts placing them at the height you prefer. The great aspect of railings is that even if the overall deck design is simple, railings can be quite ornate or simple.

The last step is to install the deck steps. You need to measure the vertical rise and then decide how high you prefer the steps to be. Additionally, if you only want a few steps, then you would make them longer. If you use 2x4 or 2x6 boards for the treads, you will find that any cupping problems are reduced or eliminated, which is a common problem with the wider steps.
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