Deck building advice

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Forum topic by Scott posted 05-21-2009 04:12 PM 1142 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Scott's profile


4 posts in 3395 days

05-21-2009 04:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’ve never posted a question before and am not even sure this is the right forum but here goes anyway: I’m building a deck this weekend, freestanding, about 350 sf, nothing too fancy.

My question is what advice would you give and what might I overlook? I’ve built fencing and put in posts and cement so I have some skills but I’m sure there is something I’ll overlook on this project and figured your collective knowledge might help me avoid some problems.


-- Scott, Chicago

7 replies so far

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 3490 days

#1 posted 05-21-2009 04:26 PM

I would suggest you make sure the animals cannot get underneath it. Cats, rats, whatever, if it is possible.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View JCantin's profile


179 posts in 3375 days

#2 posted 05-21-2009 06:27 PM

350 sf is not small. Unattached, are you at grade or elevated? Depending on your local requirements you may be required to (and will want to) pull a permit and have it inspected.

I came across these guidelines while building my own awhile back and they were real helpful, especially the joist span info. The diagrams were especially helpful to a newbie like me. On p.13 it shows bracing schemes for free standing decks.

View a1Jim's profile


117060 posts in 3540 days

#3 posted 05-21-2009 06:43 PM

Hey Scott
Codes are different in all areas so you need to check on the permit aspect first. In my area decks that are under 30” high and will not have a roof do not need permits. I have seen a number of mistakes by home owner built decks , many have to do with a to great of spans ,the ones you have between supports and having joist to far apart . Many deck that have wood decking are 24” on center but if your using composite decking they call for 14-16” on center. another home owner mistake is nailing the deck surface down when they should be screwed down . If you pull a permit then the building department may be able to help.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Robin1976's profile


20 posts in 3256 days

#4 posted 05-21-2009 07:04 PM

DEFINATELY check your local cities building permits department for any codes you have to adhere to. And also check into home owner’s insurance… it could be as simple as telling them your attaching it… but any modification to the struture without doing so could void an agreement.

Typically any deck that requires a step will have permits or codes that you must follow… maybe even an inspection.

Code should outline a lot of the details (e.g. made out of 2×8’s vs. 2×10’s etc.).

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3322 days

#5 posted 05-22-2009 02:41 AM

I would suggest that you get some “sonotubes” and pour concrete for pilings/footings. A friend installed a deck a few years ago without them and it only lasted about 3 years because of frost heave. Mine has 10” sonotubes that go down 42” inches and it hasn’t budged. Good Luck!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 3490 days

#6 posted 05-27-2009 06:25 PM

Thought of one other thing. When you have a deck at ground level, something important and small could fall through the gaps and get trapped underneath. Rope can be used to seal the gaps. Just tap it in. No more worry about anything falling through and the wood can move. Can be used with other applications too.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View Konquest's profile


171 posts in 3407 days

#7 posted 05-27-2009 07:13 PM

1: Rent an auger
2: Rent a concrete mixer (these two things are worth it for the work they save)
3: Use galvanized or stainless lags
4: If attached to house, use rubber roof flashing around the ledger
5: If you have the money, overbuild in case you want a hot tub years later
6: You do not want the deck to be level, just close to level and pitched away from the house

Those are my top “rules” for building decks.

-- 9 3/4 fingers remaining.

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