Deck construction can be immensely fulfilling, both in terms of the construction process and the final outcome. A gorgeous, well-constructed deck may enlarge your living space during warm months, bring the family together, and give much-needed relaxation space.
However, too many homeowners commit deck building errors that threaten their enjoyment and safety. Avoid several of the common mistakes homeowners make when installing decks.
Being Inattentive to Local Deck Building Code
Decks must always be structurally solid and built to code; there is no debate on this point. Local building codes are frequently developed from the International Residential Code (IRC), with modifications.
While it is important to be informed of IRC rules, local variations are sometimes overlooked by do-it-yourself builders. Local adjustments reflect the climate and other demands of the region. Your area-specific deck-building code may only be obtained from your municipality’s permitting department.
Building Inadequate Deck Post Footers
- Typically, one end of the deck is secured by a ledger board that is attached to the house. The remaining deck resting places are on-grade, or on the ground itself. To sustain the huge weight of the deck, these on-grade vertical support columns must rest on rock-solid, immovable footings. Avoid these frequent deck footing errors:
- Footings must be placed in undisturbed soil. If the earth has been disturbed, the footings must be dug deeper, sometimes reaching as much as 48 inches.
- Footings must reach below the frost line in your region to prevent frost heave. Footers must extend a minimum of 12 inches below grade.
- Raise the tops of the footers at least an inch above the ground to keep them dry.
Attaching the Beam to the Sides of the Support Posts
When do-it-yourselfers link the horizontal beam (also called a girder) to the vertical support posts on the side of the support posts, they commit a common error that can lead to deck collapse. This was once permitted by the building code, but it is now regarded as inadequate since bolts can have low shear strength.
The superior method that conforms to the majority of building codes is to rest the beam on the support posts. Attached to the tops of the support posts, the beam can rest on metal column caps. Or, notches can be cut into the support posts using a reciprocating saw to allow the beam to rest in a pocket. Then, join the beam to the posts using carriage bolts, washers, and nuts that have been galvanised.
Incorrectly Spacing the Joists
Your interior floor covering rests on a subfloor, which rests on joists, which are long pieces of milled or laminated lumber. Deck floorboards are connected directly onto joists, eliminating the need for flooring. Without the subfloor, the entire load is supported by the deck planks.
Composite and PVC deck boards, in particular, are not as structurally robust as the majority of woods, especially hardwoods, and may thus require closer joist spacing. Consult joist span tables that correspond with the type of deck flooring you wish to install.
Installing the Wrong Deck Boards for Your Use
Deck floorboards range from affordable pressure-treated wood to exotic hardwoods and composite woods. Determine your specific needs and purchase deck boards accordingly.
Consider using pressure-treated or hem-fir (hemlock-fir mix) planks, for example, if you are on a tight budget or constructing the deck for speedy resale. Luxury residences may require exotic hardwoods such as ipe. If durability and low maintenance are the most crucial factors, composite woods and PVC-based materials provide the most value.
Attaching the Ledger Board Directly to the Siding
The ledger board serves as the deck’s backbone, securing it to the most stable surface available: the house. Sometimes, do-it-yourselfers will attach the ledger board on top of the siding.
This procedure is improper because the lag screws cannot penetrate deeply enough into the rim joist due to the presence of siding and perhaps exterior rigid foam insulation between them and the rim joist. To properly attach the ledger board, the siding, house wrap or tar paper, and foam insulation must be removed so that the ledger board rests directly on the rim joist.
Blocking Egress and Access to Services
When a deck is built onto the side of a home, it can hide or obstruct a variety of services, including water faucets, dryer vents, air conditioning units, and outside outlets. Relocate any services that the new deck may affect. In rare instances, your local permitting authorities may deny your deck permit if it impedes basement window egress.
Not Using Corrosive Resistant Fasteners
Using the incorrect type of fasteners might have disastrous consequences for your deck. Due to their outdoor location, decks are subjected to severe damage from the weather. In addition, the improper fastener can react with the wood preservative and accelerate corrosion. Purchase certified fasteners for deck construction. These materials are often stainless steel, polymer-coated, or hot-dipped galvanised.
Not Installing Handrails on Low-Rise Decks
Under many municipal building rules, handrails are not required when constructing a low-rise deck that is less than 30 inches in height. Excluding railing saves time and money, in addition to preserving the view. However, is this truly a good idea? Thirty inches is still plenty to fall and sustain injuries. For this reason, many deck builders install handrails even though the code does not mandate it.
Not Immediately Applying Waterproof Coating
As soon as it is installed on decks, the wood begins to deteriorate rapidly. It can be tempting to delay the application of a waterproof coating after installation. Perform this action without delay. The state of newly installed wood is optimal for accepting coatings.
Adding Too Many Extras
Consider your preferred outdoor activities and determine if your suggested deck suits them. Sometimes, overzealous deck business sales personnel will attempt to offer consumers several extras, including benches, built-ins, lights, and awnings. Consider whether you truly require those extras.
Not Seeking Professional Deck Building Help
Many homeowners begin their deck building project with optimism, believing they can do it on their own. After several months, the initiative has come to a halt. Before undertaking this project on your own, familiarise yourself with the complexities of deck construction and evaluate your suitability for the work. If not, consult a local professional general contractor or deck builder for assistance.