A deck is a beautiful addition to any home. It provides a space for outdoor entertaining, relaxing, and enjoying the fresh air. If you are planning to build a deck, there are a few things you can do to ensure it will last for decades. With the proper materials, design, and construction, your deck can be a lasting investment in your home.
Begin with a Sturdy Foundation.
To ensure your deck stands tall, start from the ground up! Don’t take shortcuts and lay down a few paver stones; you will surely regret it. A concrete footing or a poured concrete pier can provide stability and prevent settling. If you are using wooden posts as part of your foundation, use treated lumber to protect against weathering, insects, and rot.
When laying a concrete pier, keep it plumb and reinforced with extra strength-providing fiber. To guarantee durability and protect against moisture damage, make sure each pier is at least eight inches off the ground. If you want to go that extra mile for superior stability during your deck’s life span, use a vibrator while pouring; this will ensure solidity from the foundation up.
Build a Sturdy Frame.
Deck failure can be a common DIYer faux pas. Make sure you use an online span calculator to get the exact measurements for your joists and beams or else pay the price of a sagging structure down the line. Don’t let poor planning ruin all that hard work – do it right from step one by finding out what thicknesses are necessary with these simple calculators.
Avoid Cutting into Your Siding.
Deck builders may want to rush ahead with a quick fix, but cutting into the siding is not it. This usually means water will find its way in and cause disastrous consequences like rot and molding. It’s even worse if you had planned on flashing for protection; moisture still has plenty of ways to sneak into the wall! To save your outdoor space from an eventual disaster, don’t let yourself get tempted by shortcuts – do things right, so there’s no regret later.
Use High-Quality Lumber.
When deciding on the perfect lumber for your deck, two types stand out above all others. Eastern white cedar and pressure-treated spruce contain compounds that provide superior protection from rot – but in different ways! Cedar offers natural preservative oils, while treated wood has been chemically protected. Both are reliable options for your project, but it’s important to understand their differences.
Use galvanized or stainless steel fasteners.
Don’t let your deck crash and burn! Get the best fasteners for outdoor use to ward off rusting due to weather conditions. Invest in stainless steel nails with large heads or opt for hot-dipped galvanized framing ones instead – the price may be higher, but you’ll get longevity out of them regardless.
When it comes time to secure your deck’s boards on top? Opt for polymer-plated screws over zinc coated; this way, you can sleep peacefully, knowing that there won’t be any surprises years down the line.
Install flashing at all ledger board connections.
Flashing is a thin metal sheet that helps prevent water damage where the ledger board is attached to the house. Be sure to install flashing and seal all gaps with caulk or waterproof sealant.
Avoid Wood-on-Wood Contact.
Keep your deck frame healthy and dry by avoiding wood-to-wood contact when building. Leave a small gap between the ends of beams to allow rainwater to escape rather than become trapped against their end grain. Although it may seem counterintuitive, leaving this space won’t reduce the strength of your structure. Bolt each beam into foundation piers and tie them together with joists for solid support!
Consider Using Composite Wood Material.
Composite wood material is an excellent choice for decks because it is durable and low maintenance. Composite boards are resistant to rotting, splintering, and warping, making them an ideal choice if you want your deck to last for many years.
Add a layer of protection with weatherproofing stain or paint.
A coat of weatherproofing stain or paint will help protect the lumber from UV damage, moisture, and rot. Be sure to reapply every few years as needed.
Inspect and repair your deck regularly.
Even with proper care and maintenance, decks can start to show wear and tear after several years. Be sure to inspect your deck regularly for loose boards, splinters, nails, or screws. Repair any damage as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration.
The Bottom Line
Your deck is one of the most important parts of your home, so it’s essential to plan ahead and build with care. Use these tips to help you build a strong and reliable structure, and then add an additional layer of protection with weatherproofing stain or paint for added peace of mind. With regular inspection and maintenance, your deck can last for many years to come.