Adding a deck to the yard can be a wonderful way to expand the usable area of a home and create a space where family and friends can relax in nice weather. A well-made deck can even add value to a home. Building a custom deck is not necessarily a beginner level project, but with the right materials and some patience, it is certainly possible for most people to build the backyard deck of their dreams.
Create a plan
Any home improvement project that involves digging or construction should start with a plan. Map out the intended design of the deck, which can assist in both purchasing materials and preparing the deck site. Check with any local council authorities before digging or building, as permits may be necessary.
Choose the timber for the deck. Making the frame of the deck from treated pine is a common and durable choice. For the deck boards that are visible, a wood such as merbau is effective for wet areas because merbau boards resist rotting and insects. Pine and spotted gum are also popular choices.
Know deck terminology
Become familiar with the terminology of the different deck pieces. Decks may use different variations of these pieces, depending on their construction:
- Stumps: short wooden posts set in concrete that keep the deck off the ground
- Stirrups: metal supports that may be used in place of stumps
- Bearers: boards that run parallel to the house
- Joists: boards that run perpendicular to the house
- Ledger: board that screws into the house and acts as an anchor for the deck
- Decking: the actual visible boards of the deck
Prepare the area
Create a grid using stakes and string. The experts at home improvement retailer Bunnings Warehouse suggest using the "three-four-five" rule for determining where to build. First, drive a stake into the ground at the intersection of the house and the deck. Then, measure 3 metres from the house, and insert a stake. Measure 4 metres along the house, and insert a stake. Then, measure to ensure the long side of the triangle is exactly 5 metres, and insert a fourth stake at the last empty corner.
Insert stakes around the perimeter of the deck no more than 1500 mm apart, and then string lines between each pair of opposite stakes, creating a grid. The foundation posts go at each intersection, so mark them with spray paint.
Set the foundation
Dig postholes for the stumps using spray paint as a guide. Before adding the posts, affix a ledger board to the house, and ensure it is level. Insert a post in each posthole, level with the ledger minus the height of the joist and bearer, and then set the post in concrete. When all the posts are set and dry, cover the area with gravel, which can assist with drainage and keep the area clean once the deck is in place.
Construct the deck frame
Build the deck frame around the posts. Install the bearers parallel to the ledger. For stumps, use nails hammered in at an angle. It is a good idea to use galvanised nails for outdoor projects because they are resistant to rust. Then, attach the joists perpendicular to the ledger, using joist hangers. A template board can ensure the joists are equidistant apart. Joists should be approximately 450 mm apart.
Lay the decking on top of the deck frame. The seams of the deck pieces should go over the joists. These seams should also be scattered so that the seams do not line up on the same joists. Drill holes into each deck board and each joist, and then hammer a nail into the drilled hole. Use a nail as a spacer so that the boards do not sit exactly flush. Cut off any excess decking using a circular saw. For a finished look, seal or weatherproof the wood, and decorate the deck as desired.
How to buy deck materials on eBay
To make building a deck easier, consider shopping for materials on eBay. Use the search box on any page of the site to look for "timber", "galvanised nails", or a "power drill". The eBay filters can help narrow down your results so that you can find exactly the materials you need for the perfect deck project. A deck in the yard is a big project, but with some planning and dedicated work, you can end up with a beautiful addition to your home.