7 Things you Need to Know About Building a Deck

7 Things you Need to Know About Building a Deck

  1. Permitting

Building a deck almost always requires a permit.  Builders need a permit to build decks over a certain height and size.  Each geographical area holds different permitting laws and codes to follow.  Start by researching the permitting requirements in your area before starting the project.  As a tip, your contractor should be familiar with permit laws and help guide you through the process.

 deck building. building a deck. important tips about deck building

  1. Level Ledgers

Most decks attach directly to the home’s exterior.  The large beam that is screwed into the house is called the ledger board.  Building a safe and sound structure starts with the ledger.  The level must be level and correctly attached to the house.

  1. Cobble a Layout

Instead of using string or batter boards, use deck boards and joists to create a layout of the deck.  Using wood provides a solid frame to work with.  Mark footing holes and post placement based on the frame layout.   Additionally, using the frame as a guide ensures accurate spacing and position of the deck components.

  1. ‘All About that Base’

The footings of the deck are set in concrete.  Check with the city or county you live in to learn about the local codes in your area.  The code on footings sets depth requirements below the frost line.   It’s important to install the footings below the frost line so that when the ground freezes and thaws, your base will not move.


  1. Material Quality

First, you have to decide if you want to install wood or composite.  For pros and cons of each, check out Wood Vs. Composite.  With each material, there are many factors to consider.  In both scenarios, the quality of the boards is important.

When examining wooden boards, check for natural imperfections such as knots, chips, and cracks.  Knots here and there are ok and add character to the wood.  However, multiple knots and knots on the edges will eventually become holes in your deck. Choose #1 prime and thoroughly inspect each board for imperfections.

Composite decking comes in many textures, colors, and brands.  Poorly made composite boards could have scratches or be shades off from the color you requested.  Other characteristics to consider are estimated lifespan, strength of the material, and how environmentally friendly the material is.

  1. Strong Foundation

Deck safety is a primary concern.  Which is why most of these tips are about building a strong structure.  In case you are new to building, joists are the support boards under the deck that attach perpendicularly to the ledger.  When building the framework of the deck, there are a few key points to stress.  First, the joists must square with the ledger.  Second, they need to be attached with the appropriate fasteners.  Third, there are regulations for the length of space between joists.



  1. Build Sturdy Stairs

Stairs often go overlooked as an appendix to the deck.  Your stairs generally see the most traffic.  In addition, they have the least amount of foundation support.  Make sure to design a sturdy set of stairs.  Try using 2×12 skirt boards to strengthen stairs and railings.