Deck Construction - Redwood Decks & CCA Lumber
How many books do you think have been written concerning deck construction? It's got to be over 100 or so. And I'm going to try to do it here in this simple pamphlet? We better get to work!
Plans - The Key to Success
If you start your project without a set of plans - even simple ones - you are crazy! A plan enables you to determine a tight material list. In addition, you can see if the deck is going to work! Making paper cut outs of scale sized furniture allows you to see if the deck will accommodate everything you wish to do. Take the time to do a plan.
Building the Frame
I always started my projects by attaching the band board to the house. There are numerous ways to do this. One thing is for sure. Try not to put it directly against the house! Why not invest in 5 1/2 inch washers to be used at each through bolt location. This will hold the band board about 3/8 inch away from the house. This space allows for free drainage of water. This is really important if your house is wood.
Lining Up Joists
The joists on our deck are going to project away from the house. The band board we are attaching will support these joists by using metal joist hangers.
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The band board at the house is a board that runs perpendicular to the joists in the same plane. It needs to be through bolted to the house so it does not pull away. Using lag bolts and/or large nails to attach a band board to a house is forbidden on my jobs!
If the joists inside your house run the same direction of the deck joists, we have to stop and do some planning. It would be ideal if you could align your deck joists to merely be extensions of the inside house joists. Why you ask? This helps us extend utilities into the deck if necessary and it makes it infinitely easier to attach the through bolts and subsequent joist hangers. In other words, we want the through bolts that hold the band board to be in the middle of the joists. If you goof this up you will have a devil of a time attaching the joist hangers. The spacing will be goofed up as a joist hanger might end up right on top of a bolt! Let's layout the joist locations on the band board before we go any further. It will then make sense.
Layout is Easy as Can Be
OK, your band board is 12 feet long. Hey, you better check that...they are usually a little long from the factory. Not only that, the end cuts are not always square! You better check each end for square and trim off what is necessary to make 12 feet!
Lay the band board on the ground. The first floor joist is going to be flush with the end of the band board. Hook your tape on the left end of the band board. Make a mark at 15 and 1/4 inches. Then make an X to the right of the mark. Tap a nail in at the mark. Hook your tape on the nail. Now mark at 16, 32, 48, 64, 80, 96, and 112 inches. Be sure to put an X to the right of each of these marks. The marks represent the left side of each joist as you face the band board. Use a framing square to mark both sides of each joist (Don't you wish I had a video? ....I know, I know....). The last joist goes at the end of the band board. Now you see where the bolts go! Right smack in the middle of the joists, if possible. Just make sure this is going to work out with respect to the existing house joists.
Drilling the Band Board
Before you go any further, mark somewhere on the band board what the 'top' is. I don't want this thing to get reversed. The through bolt holes go between joists # 1 & 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6, 7 & 8, and 9 & 10. It is best to stager the holes as well with respect to height. In other words, measure down 1 and 1/2 inches from the top of the band board for the first one. Then measure up from the bottom the same for the second. Alternate until you get to the end. Go ahead and drill a 1/2 inch diameter hole if you are certain that the holes will not interfere with anything in the house! If they do, make the necessary adjustments. Lets talk about band board height location. It is often goofed up!I like to have my final deck surface end up 2 inches below the finish floor level of the house. This provides a decent snow ledge for most climates. It also allows for positive rain water removal. If you make the mistake of trying to get the deck to be flush with the underside of an exterior door, you are making a huge mistake. You will have a leak into your house, trust me!
If you think that a 2 inch surface difference between the deck and the house will work for you, make a mark 3 inches below the finish floor and chalk a level line. Why 3 inches? Hey, don't forget, we have to add back an inch of decking tomorrow!
Now, let's check one last thing. Are the bolt holes going to be too low on the band board? Will they hit the top plate that sits on top of the foundation? Will they hit the foundation? If so, you must adjust them upwards. Once you are certain, drill the holes in the band board, drill the house, and attach the band board. Don't forget the washers and fill the hole with silicone caulk to stop water penetration. Put the bolts in, tighten the nuts inside the basement and come back outside so we can take a quick break.
The band board is just about the toughest part. Now we are going to build the outline of the deck. Take two joist hangers. Flatten the left side of one and the right side of the other. Why? Because the flattened part nails to the end of the band board, silly! We are going to put on the first and last joist now. Put the joist hanger on making sure you do not pinch it too tight or else the joist can't slide into place. Drop the joist into each hanger. Nail it in, and have someone hold the end so it doesn't drop. Hey, did you remember to square each end and make sure it was 9 feet 9 inches long? I knew you would remember! Take a scrap 2x4 and nail it to the side of the joist to support it in a level fashion. Do the same with the other end joist.
Now, take the other 12 foot 2x6 and square up each end, and cut it to exactly 12 feet. Drill three holes at each end in 3/4 inch from the edge. This is so you will not split the end when you nail it to the ends of the first and last joist. Nail this board to the end of the first and last joist. If you did everything right, you now have the outline of the deck. The deck should be reasonably level and measure 10 feet by 12 feet. You've got a box.
Squaring It Up
Now it is time to square the deck. This is necessary if you want the decking to work out nicely. Square simply means that each corner is a 90 degree angle. Your deck will be square when the two diagonal measurements are equal. I did the math for you. Your diagonals will (should) be 15 feet 7 and 7/16ths inches. Once the diagonal measurements are the same, nail a board from the center of the house band board to the out to the farthest point you can reach of either side joist. This will stabilize the box and keep it square.
The Posts and Beam
With the deck square, you can now locate where you want the beam and posts. I always like to cantilever the deck joists about 2 feet past the beam. It always seems to look better. Your beam can also cantilever slightly past the post in each direction as well, say one foot. String a line from each end joist where you intend to put your beam. Locate the post location and start to dig your 16 inch diameter foundation piers. These concrete pads should be at or below frost level. Pour 6 inches of concrete in the hole and level it. Let dry, install your posts per the drawing on page 3 making sure the beam is level and the joists that pass over the beam are level. Check the deck again at this time to make sure it is still square. If so,fill around the posts with rounded gravel. Cap the top of the hole with another 6 inches of concrete.
The Joists, Decking & Rails
It is time for the easy part. Simply fill in the rest of the joists. Do the center one first. Make sure you cut it to the correct length. Do not create a bow in the outer band board! String it or look down it to make sure it is straight. Cut and place the rest of the joists.
Install the deck boards starting at the end of the deck. Work towards the house. Stagger your joints so that they look random. The outfall from the last cut can almost always be used to start the next row. If you use CCA lumber, space the boards tightly. They will shrink! If you use redwood, use a paint stick for spacing purposes.
The rail is easy, especially if you purchased precut pickets. Install the corner pickets and the one at the house. Then put in your railing. Fill in the pickets aligning them with the rail. If you put in your pickets first, they will never be flush!
Had enough? Imagine what I would have to do on a complicated deck? It was always challenging, but rewarding. That is a fact!