How to Build a Deck – The Basics Part One

If you are reading this, you are making sure you know how to build a deck. Or you want to learn to do it yourself. That’s awesome. We want to help. At Friel Lumber, we have all the materials you need to build a deck. Now, let’s go over the basics to get you started.

The first part of any DIY project is to plan. Most homeowners know where they want it, so start by putting temporary stakes to outline the proposed deck area. This lets you see the size and any potential hazards or limitations. For example, make sure there are no utility or drainage lines underneath the deck area.

Also, make sure you contact your local permitting office to get the necessary permits. Some Maryland communities have HOAs that restrict the size, height, and types of materials used. In addition, you need to familiarize yourself with building codes. If you are not sure, contact your local jurisdiction.

Important to Remember:

When building a deck for the first time, it is easy to make mistakes. That is why we put together a list of things to help you design your deck in the planning phase.

Call 811 before you build anything. In Maryland, it’s called Miss Utility and is a free service that is required before you dig. They come out and mark any utilities in the area to avoid.

Plan for any outdoor furniture, grill, walking space, etc. when determining the size. Consider putting them in a staked area and walk around to visualize it better.

Keep in mind most decking is 5 1/2 inches wide per board. Knowing the width helps your determine your deck size to avoid having to cut boards into skinny pieces at the end.

If designing close to the house, make sure the railings steer clear of windows and any swinging doors. This could affect the size or length of your deck.

These are just a few tips to make sure you have the right design down. Permitting offices often require you to submit the size and diagram of the layout. Therefore, getting this all together beforehand makes the process smoother.

What You Need

Once you have the outline of the deck, you can start planing for materials based on the size. Regardless of the size and design, you have your basic parts, noted below. You will need to determine how much you need. If you aren’t sure, stop by Friel Lumber. We are happy to help you put a materials list together with the measurements of your deck. Now let’s just review the basic deck materials:

Footings – This is the foundation of a deck. The number of footings depends on the size of the deck and help bare the overall weight.

Posts – Also called vertical support members, posts are connected to the footings. This can be incased in concrete or set on top of concrete footings.

Beams – Also called the horizontal support members, they directly connect with the posts. Many are built from the same lumber as the joists, just double or tripled and nailed together.

Joists – Joists lay horizontally on top of the beams to provide strength and sturdiness to the deck. They provide the framing to connect the decking materials.

Decking – Decking is the actual material you connect to the joists and work as your flooring. Typically this is comprised of pressure-treated wood. However, there are many new materials to choose from.

Finishing Details – It depends on the size and height of your deck, but most decks will require steps and railings.

There is also a ledger board beam if you are connecting the deck directly to the house. However, you should not do this if you have a stone or brick exterior. In those cases, you should build a free-standing deck frame.

Find it at Friel Lumber

If you are looking to add or redo an existing deck, Friel Lumber Company can help. Come out and visit our lumber yard at 100 Friel Place in Queenstown. We also have all the tools and materials you need at our hardware store. Got questions? Give us a call at (410) 827-8811 or fill out an online contact form. Also, check out some inspiring deck ideas for your backyard here.

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