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Build a Deck That'll Last Forever: Deck Building Checklist

It is essential to have places in your house that allow you to enjoy the wonders of nature on beautiful days. One way to do that is to have balconies and porches that provide vast amounts of sunlight and fresh air daily. Another great way to indulge in nature while you're at home and chilling is to incorporate a new deck that would allow you to feel the soft breeze and enjoy the warmth and coolness of the seasons.

Building your dream deck does not necessarily mean making an entirely new one. However, if you are considering building one, there are some things that you need to consider. Creating a deck-building checklist will help you design the deck and adhere to the local building code according to where you live. 

The main objective is to have a deck that would last, and most decks often forget that heavily focusing only on aesthetics and visuals. Come deck inspection day done by a professional inspector, and even though your deck is built gorgeously, the deck posts and support posts are not of the best quality, which can put your family's safety and your home's value. 

This article will help you build a checklist for your ideal deck that would hit two birds with one stone: make it last longer and look great, plus a few design ideas that would greatly help build a deck.

All About Composite Decking

One of the things that usually come out when we discuss building a deck, in general, is composite decking. Composite decking is a material that has wood fiber and also plastic. It is one of the most used materials in building decks since it lasts longer than any other decking material.

When we talk about lasting, the composite decking does not rot, split, or crack as easily as natural wood does. Additionally, it is not as susceptible to insect damage too. This means you would not have to worry about your deck getting damaged by termites or other insects that might harm your deck.

When we talk about beauty, composite decks can also offer a lot of options when it comes to design and color. You can find a lot of different colors and designs that would suit your taste. You can also find a lot of different textures that would add to the beauty of your deck.

Now that we have discussed composite decking let us move on to the checklist you need to follow to build a lasting and beautiful deck.

The Deck Building Checklist for a New Deck


Concrete Deck Blocks

Concrete blocks are one of the most affordable options if you're building your deck from scratch. They're also one of the most accessible materials to work with. You can find them in almost any size and shape, and they'll last forever if you use them correctly. Here are some tips to help ensure that your concrete deck blocks are suitable for your project:

Use a leveler when laying out your blocks. This will help ensure that all your patio stones are straight and level, which is especially important if you use pavers for your decking material. If you don't have a leveler (or would prefer not to buy one), check with the local hardware stores or home improvement centers for one that you can rent by the day or week. Moreover, make sure each block has at least one face touching another block or wall (or both), so water doesn't collect in between them, causing mold and mildew growth later on down the road.


Joist Hangers

The joist hanger is the metal bracket that holds the joists in place. You should connect all joist hangers to the rim joist with lag screws. It would help if you did not bolt the hangers to the joists because this can cause them to spread out, thus, compromising their strength.

Now, if you're using a pressure-treated decking board, you may want to use galvanized nails or screws instead of lag screws to reduce the risk of corrosion. When attaching hangers, pre-drill the holes to avoid splitting the wood. Use two nails or screws per hanger for added strength.



Lag Screws and Nails

As mentioned, lag screws are used to attach the joist hangers to the rim joist. They're also used to attach the ledger board to the house. The size of the lag screws you'll need will depend on the thickness of your lumber. For example, if you're using 2x6 lumber for your joists, you'll need 3/8-inch diameter lag screws.

Nails are used to fastening the decking boards to the joists. The size and type of nails you'll need will depend on the thickness and type of decking boards you use. For example, if you're using pressure-treated lumber for your joists and 2x6 cedar decking boards, you'll need 8d galvanized nails.

If you're unsure what size lag screws or nails to use, ask a sales associate at your local hardware store for help.


Ledger Board

The ledger board is the horizontal piece of lumber that attaches the deck to the house. It's essential to ensure that the ledger board is adequately secured to the house, so your deck doesn't collapse.

First, pre-drill the holes for the lag screws to attach to the ledger board. Then, use a hacksaw to cut the board to size, if necessary. Attach the ledger board to the house with lag screws and washers, making sure to drive them in at an angle so they don't pull out.

After the ledger board is in place, install flashing to help prevent water damage. Then, attach the joist hangers.



Flashing is a piece of metal or rubber that you can use to cover a gap between wood and the deck frame. Flashing comes in different forms, including metal and rubber. Metal flashing is sold in rolls at most home improvement stores, whereas rubber flashing is sold in sheets or rolls and is typically used on concrete decks where moisture may get trapped under it.

If you're installing a new deck, you'll need to buy flashing to cover the gaps between your deck and the house (for example) or between the deck joists and the ledger board (the board that supports the ends of your floor joists). You can also buy flashing for significant gaps between wood surfaces (such as at corners). You can help prevent water damage by keeping the elements out with flashing.sonotube-for-deck

Cement Piers or Sonotubes

If you're building a deck on an existing home, you first need to decide whether you'll use metal piers or concrete footings. Concrete footings are far more common, but metal piers may be a better choice if you have an older home with a concrete foundation.

  • Concrete Footings: Concrete footings are typically laid with 6-inch-wide boards that rest on top of the footing's surface. The panels are screwed into place and then filled with concrete to create a solid base for your deck posts.
  • Metal Piers: Metal piers are usually installed in pairs and connected with metal brackets. They're made from galvanized steel and should last decades without rusting or deforming under pressure.

Once you've chosen your footing type, it's time to start excavating. The depth of the excavation will depend on the height of your deck and the local building codes. In most cases, you'll need to dig at least 2 feet into the ground.

After you've excavated the area, it's time to install the footings. Mix the concrete and pour it into the holes if you're using concrete foundations. Then, insert the 6-inch-wide boards and screw them into place.

If you're using metal piers, start by installing the brackets. Then, set the piers and use a level to ensure they're level with each other. Once they're level, use a drill to secure the piers to the brackets with bolts.

After the footings are installed, you're ready to start building your deck.


Deck Board Spacing

The spacing between deck boards can be as narrow as 3/4" or as wide as 2". The spacing of the deck boards will depend on the overall look you want for your deck. Most decks use a 1 x 6, 1 x 8 or 1 x 10 board. A wider board is more stable than a narrow one and will require less maintenance, but the cost is higher.

This is important because you don't want your deck boards to sag over time. Spacing the boards too far apart will leave gaps you can fill with dirt, leaves, and other debris. Spacing the boards too close together can cause the boards to warp and cup.

To avoid these problems, choosing the proper spacing for your deck boards is essential. The best way to do this is to lay the panels on the ground before installing them. This will allow you to see how they fit together and ensure the spacing is correct.

Once you're happy with the layout, mark the location of each board with a pencil. Then, use a saw to cut the panels to the correct size.


Railing Height

The railing should be at least 36 inches tall, but most decks are built with 42-inch bars. The height of the railing is essential because it allows you to have an unobstructed view of your deck and the surrounding space. If children play on the deck, ensure they cannot jump over the railing.

In addition to safety concerns, many homeowners want their decks to look nice. If you have children on your property, ensure that there are no sharp edges or splinters that could cause injury if someone falls against them.

You can also choose from various colors or designs for your new deck railing material to match the design of your house and yard. However, always keep the local railing height code in mind to avoid any problems with your homeowners' association or local building code officials.New call-to-action

Staining and Painting

The deck should be stained and painted before the railing is installed. This will help ensure the stain penetrates the wood and protect it from the elements. The deck should be stained twice: once with an oil-based stain (for durability) and once with a water-based stain (for color).

This is mainly for aesthetic reasons, but ensuring the stain is applied evenly is essential. Uneven staining can lead to problems with the finish and cause the deck to look patchy. After applying the stain, you can paint the deck if you want. This is not required, but it will help protect the wood from UV damage and make the deck easier to clean.

If you choose to paint the deck, use high-quality exterior paint. The color of the paint should complement the color of the house and the surrounding landscaping.

Your Deck Surface

Another essential part of most decks is the deck surface. This is the part of the deck that you walk on, and it's necessary to choose a material that is durable and easy to clean.

There are a variety of materials to choose from, including:

  • Concrete: Concrete is one of the most popular choices for deck surfaces. It's durable, easy to clean, and can be stained or painted to match the look of your house.
  • Brick: Brick is another popular choice for deck surfaces. It's durable and easy to clean, but it can be expensive.
  • Stone: Stone is an attractive option for deck surfaces, but it can be expensive and difficult to install.
  • Wood: Wood is the traditional choice for deck surfaces and is still a popular option. It's easy to install and can be stained or painted to match the look of your house.
  • Composite: Composite decking is a newer option that is made from a mixture of wood and plastic. It's durable, easy to clean, and low maintenance.

Whatever material you choose for your deck surface, make sure that it is slip-resistant and able to withstand the weather conditions in your area. This will help you avoid accidents and keep your deck looking its best.

If you have questions about choosing the suitable material for your deck, consult a professional contractor. They will be able to help you select the best option for your home and budget.

Design Ideas for Your Dream Deck

Now that we have finished building your deck, it's time to focus on the design. This is important because your deck is situated outdoors, where many people can see it from the street.

The design of your deck should complement the style of your house. You might want to consider a contemporary deck design if you have a modern home. You might want a more classic deck design if you have a traditional house.

There are a few things to keep in mind when designing your dream deck:

  • The size of your deck: Your deck will determine how much furniture you can fit on it and how many people you can comfortably accommodate. Make sure to measure the area where you want to build your deck before you start shopping for materials.
  • The shape of your deck: The condition of your deck should be determined by the layout of your house and the surrounding landscaping. You might want to consider a square or rectangular deck if you have a small yard. You might want to consider a multi-level deck if you have a large yard.
  • The material of your deck: The material of your deck should complement the material of your house. If your home is made of brick, you might want to consider a brick or concrete deck. If your house is made of wood, you might want to consider a wood deck.
  • The furniture on your deck: The furniture on your deck should be comfortable and stylish. You'll want to choose furniture that is durable and easy to clean. Outdoor cushions and pillows are a great way to add comfort and style to your deck.
  • The lighting on your deck: The lighting on your deck should be functional and stylish. You'll want to choose lights that will illuminate the areas where you'll spend the most time. Solar lights are a great option because they're environmentally friendly and easy to install.

With some planning and creativity, you can design the perfect deck for your home. Keep these tips in mind, and you'll be sure to create a space you and your family will love.


Building a deck can be a fun and rewarding experience. The first step is to determine what size, shape, and style of deck you want. Once you know what you want, the next step is to start planning your project. Creating the checklist you need to build your deck also allows you to be more careful with detail and not leave anything behind.

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