Deck-building is a project you’ll tackle in stages, no matter what deck design you choose. The photos on these next four pages provide an overview of the primary stages involved in a typical deck project. The chapters that follow will explore each of these stages in depth.
In this overview, an old, worn deck is replaced with a slightly larger new deck with approximately 180 square foot of outdoor living space (not including the steps). As decks go, it’s average in size and the structural techniques are standard. The deck is supported by a ledger board attached to the rim joist of the home, and three main posts set atop large concrete footings. A second set of smaller posts supports the stairs. The 2 × 2 railing balusters are custom-cut on site and topped with a 2 × 6 cap. The structural elements are all made with pressure-treated pine; the decking and the more visible lumber is also pressure-treated pine, but it is pre-colored to a cedar tone so it does not require a finish coating.
An average size deck built with standard construction practices is still a major undertaking. Be sure to plan well and arrange for plenty of help at key points, such as when digging and pouring the footings and installing the central beam. In most areas any deck attached to the home requires a building permit issued by your municipality, and there likely will be several on-site inspections required. For this deck, inspection of the footing holes was needed to confirm that they are sufficiently wide and that they extended past the frostline (here, a minimum of 42 inches deep). An additional inspection was done once the undercarriage was completed (before the decking was installed), and a final inspection also was required.