Wood Deck Construction

Tips on How to Construct a Deck

By Mark J. Donovan

If you are planning a wood deck construction project make sure your deck design is approved by your local building inspector prior to starting deck construction. Poor deck construction can lead to a collapsed deck, and the risk of injury to your home and family. Quality wood deck construction starts at the ground level with the proper installation of concrete footing pads and deck posts.

There are a number of methods for constructing a wood deck, however there are some standard guiding principles that should be followed in any wood deck construction project.

I have summarized these wood deck construction tips below.

Use of Concrete Footing Pads

Concrete footing pads should be installed to support the deck posts and the weight of the deck. The concrete footing pads should be dug deep enough so that they are below the frost line for your climate region. For example, in New England the concrete footing pads should sit approximately 3-4 feet below the finished grade of the soil.

Attach Deck Posts to Concrete Pads

Deck posts should be properly fastened to the concrete footing pads using deck brackets. Fastening the deck posts to the concrete footing pads provides deck rigidity and helps to prevent the deck from racking.

Attaching Deck Beams to Deck Posts

When constructing a deck, the deck beams should be fastened to deck posts using either metal brackets or by notching the deck posts to support the deck beams.

 Tips on building and constructing a wood deck.

Simply nailing or bolting a deck beam to a deck post is a disaster waiting to happen, as the full weight of the deck will rest solely on the strength of several nails or bolts. Keep in mind that a deck can easily weigh a couple thousand pounds or more, particularly when you have people and deck furniture sitting on it.

Proper Wood Deck Construction and use of Deck Ledger Boards

If the wood deck is to attach to the side of a home the deck ledger board should be bolted to the home’s sill plate. The deck floor joists can then be attached to the deck ledger board using metal joist hanger brackets, or rest on a ledger strip that is fastened to the bottom edge of the ledger board.

Securing Deck Railing Posts

Deck railing posts should be fastened to deck floor joists and blocked in so that they are rock solid. Deck posts should be completely vertical and rigid for both safety and proper wood deck construction.

Diagonal Deck Bracing

Diagonal bracing should be installed underneath the deck to ensure the deck will not rack or twist as this type of action can cause the deck to collapse.

Wood Deck Construction and Deck Floor Joist Spacing

Deck floor joists should be spaced no further apart then 16 inches on-center. Depending upon the span and size of the deck floor joists, 12 inches on center may be more appropriate.

Deck Installation Bid Sheet

Wood Decking Installation

Wood decking boards should be installed with adequate spacing to allow water to drip down between the deck boards.

Wood Deck Construction and Railings

Deck railings and balusters should be constructed per your local building code, both in terms of railing height and spacing between balusters.

Constructing Deck Stairs

All deck stairs should have proper railings, and standard step height and depths. Having too high of a step, or even worse, inconsistent step heights can lead to personal injury.

With these fundamental wood deck construction tips, your chances of now constructing a deck of quality performance and appearance are significantly increased.

For help on building a deck, see HomeAdditionPlus.com’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

Related Information

Additional Deck Building and Design Resources

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