Build Your Own Wood Deck! Early fall is the perfect time to build in many parts of the country, as the cool days provide a comfortable atmosphere for working in the back yard. And as the major building "season" draws to a close, materials may be getting more reasonable for the do-it-yourselfer.
If you've been thinking about building, extending, refinishing or repairing your wood deck, but decided to let it go for another year, consider the fun and togetherness you can be having on those crisp, cool evenings ahead. Not only that, but a newly constructed and sealed deck or repainted or re-stained deck will be much more prepared to stand up to whatever this coming winter has to offer. And, come spring, you'll be ready to bring out the cooler and fire up the grill after only a quick garden hose rinsing!
Building your own wood deck is not that hard, either. As long as you're online anyway, search "wood deck plans" or "build your own wood deck" and see what's out there. In fact, if you search "free deck plan" you'll be pleasantly surprised. There are deck plans all over the place! And any deck plan you'll find can be adjusted to fit your particular lifestyle and situation. If you're a homeowner and don't have a deck to entertain on, you're missing some real fun.
All you need is a hammer, a 7" circular saw, a few hand tools and, of course, the wood. Deck plans available today include ones designed to "float", using what's called "deck blocks." These ingenious cement blocks are designed to sit directly on the ground. They're slightly tapered and notched at the top, to hold the 2x6 or 2x8 floor joists, but require no nailing or screwing and absolutely no digging holes or pouring concrete! Your deck area, however, must be perfectly flat and free of obstacles and debris.
If you plan to have your deck attach to your house, the floating system won't work, but building a deck with posts and footers is not much more difficult. Really, two people could build a floating wood deck in a weekend. If you choose to have a traditional deck with posts embedded in cement footers it may take two weekends.
The wood for your new deck comes in two types - pressure treated for the floor joists and posts and woods designed for beauty and durability for the railings and flooring. Pressure treated wood is now made with chemicals that actually corrode most fasteners (nails and screws) and should only be attached using galvanized or, better yet, "hot dip" galvanized nails and screws. There are horror stories of people using regular nails or screws, only to have their deck fall apart in 5 to 10 years! Ask the folks at the big boxes.
You must use pressure treated wood for the posts and foundation, especially if the wood comes in contact with or comes close to the ground. Untreated wood, even in some drier climates is an open invitation to insects and rot. Ants and other insects need moisture and food to survive. Untreated, milled wood near the ground provides both.
Wood for the railings and flooring is different. These woods are chosen for their durability and beauty. And this is where your budget and your aesthetics come together. Most lumber yards and big boxes carry several types and can guide you in which woods are the best for your area and then you can decide on which is best for you. A few of the better types are; Western Red Cedar, Redwood, Philippine Mahogany and Ipe™ (ee-pay) from south America.
If you are considering the last two woods, remember to check and see if it has the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) mark on it. This certifies that the wood has been harvested responsibly. Philippine Mahogany and Ipe™ are both very hard woods and their tight grain make them among the most beautiful. Cedar and Redwood are the most popular and, therefore, the least expensive.
Durand Demlow is a commercial designer, home remodeler and website developer. His knowledge and career has given him the experience to create a website focused on helping do-it-yourselfers and homeowners with free remodeling and decorating ideas. His website, RemodelQuickTips.com is an ever-changing resource of DIY concepts and advice.
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