Constructing a wooden deck is a large project and is not for the faint of heart. Although there are many difficult steps in the construction process, we reached out to some deck enthusiasts to find out which step was most difficult for them. Keep reading to learn what challenges you might encounter before you start building.
Find the Right Material to Form the Framing
Deck construction is not as hard as you think, as long as you follow all proper guidelines and do appropriate research. The most difficult part of constructing a wooden deck is finding the right material to form the framing or the skeleton of the deck. It is the framing that holds the deck and provides support. This crucial function requires the right material to make the decking last longer.
The style of deck you choose will have a significant effect on the joist spacing you need, and the local weather, like snow and wind, can affect framing parameters. So, research well before you choose the material for the frame.
Getting the Foundation Correct
My first piece of advice is that if you are not an experienced handyman or carpenter, hire a professional. The hardest part of building a deck is getting the foundation correct. It is very important to be precise. The support columns must be in the correct place, at the correct height, and be strong and secure to support the rest of the deck. If you want it to last, dig post holes and use concrete to solidify the foundation. Do not place your posts on top of rocks or dirt.
Installing the Ledger Board Correctly
I think one of the most difficult parts of building a deck is getting the ledger board installed correctly so you don’t have any water intrusion issues. For example, when installing the ledger board for the deck you must make sure that it is waterproofed correctly by installing an ice and water shield protective coating underneath the ledger board. Without the proper waterproofing around the ledger board, your home will slowly experience water intrusion over time which can cause significant water damage.
Deck Board Spacing and Deck Board Fastening
The most difficult part of constructing a wooden deck is properly spacing the boards. Properly fastening the boards is a close second.
Deck Board Spacing
The gap between boards or “deck board spacing” allows for wood expansion and contraction based on weather conditions. Too large a gap creates a tripping hazard, while too small a gap can result in damage when moisture from the air is absorbed by the boards. An experienced carpenter will let the deck board dry for 48 hours before installation to achieve the recommended 1/8 spacing. Haste often results in a deck that looks great until the weather changes.
Deck Board Fastening
The best method for fastening deck boards is stainless steel deck screws flush to the deck. Nails will rise over time resulting in wobbly boards; ordinary screws will corrode, especially where there is a high salt content in the air. The more expensive stainless-steel screws last longer, thereby giving the deck a longer life. If drilled too deep, they will cause the wood boards to split. Even with the best materials, haste and lack of experience are factors in the quality of the construction.
Building the Substructure
Building the substructure can be difficult, and it’s arguably the most important part of building a wooden deck. The substructure consists of the posts, footings, joists, and ledger boards, and it is ultimately vital for the foundation of the deck. What makes this difficult is that it has to be done correctly, otherwise you may deal with a deck that is uneven or unstable.
The Footings and Framework
The most difficult part of building a wooden deck is getting the footings and framework done. This is crucial because without properly set up footings and framework, you’re compromising the safety of anyone who walks on your deck. After you have the footing and framework done, you’ve reached the easy, but still time-intensive stage of putting down the individual boards. For many of us who build our decks, that’s the fun part!
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