How to build a deck with untreated wood

Written by jim wildman
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How to build a deck with untreated wood
Building a wood deck can improve the value of your home. (deck boards image by Sirena Designs from Fotolia.com)

A wood deck is a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. A deck can be made out of most any wood, but cedar, white oak, teak and redwood are popular choices because those woods are naturally resistant to insects and decay. Although you can find lumber with a quality finish intended for outdoor use, a do-it-yourself handyman can also build a deck with untreated wood and then apply a good exterior finish.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Grid paper
  • Pencil
  • Sod cutter
  • Flat bladed shovel
  • Landscape fabric
  • Gravel
  • Galvanised post anchors
  • 4-inch by 4-inch posts
  • 2-inch by 8-inch lumber
  • Galvanised nails
  • Joist hangers
  • 11/2-inch exterior deck screws
  • 3-inch exterior deck screws
  • Power screw gun
  • 6-inch galvanised carriage bolts
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Wood clamps
  • Drill with bit
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Circular saw

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Call your local permit department and check on local building regulations. The permit department can tell you whether a permit is required and outline regulations that must be followed for your deck. You should also call your local utility companies so they can flag your property. Utility companies usually require a week to flag your property, but knowing where underground electrical wires and pipes are located is a must.

  2. 2

    Draw the deck on a sheet of grid paper. Use a scale that will work with the size of deck you plan on making. As you design the deck, plan to place 4-inch by 4-inch posts every 10 feet around the deck perimeter. This is necessary because your 2-inch by 8-inch rim joists will have a span of 10-feet. The rim joist will wrap around the perimeter of the deck. You should also incorporate floor joists, running the length of the deck spaced 16 inches apart, into your plan.

  3. 3

    Remove grass from the deck area using a sod cutter or a flat bladed shovel. Place a layer of landscape fabric over the ground. Cover the fabric with a layer of gravel. This will prevent grass and weeds from growing under the deck. Dig your post holes to a depth six inches below the frost line for your area. Place concrete in every hole to the surface of the ground. Set a galvanised post anchor on top of each hole before the concrete has set. The post anchor holds the deck in place while keeping the post off the ground to protect the wood from moisture.

  4. 4

    Set a post in each anchor and secure it using 1 1/2-inch deck screws and a power screw driver. Mark each post three inches below the threshold of the door to your deck. This marks where the top of the rim joist will be attached to the posts. Clamp the rim joist to the post where it will be attached. Pre-drill the rim joist and posts for two 6 1/2-inch carriage bolts that will secure the rim joist in place. Tighten the rim joist to the posts using an adjustable wrench.

  5. 5

    Cut the top of the post even with the top of the rim joist. Use a reciprocating saw for this step. Mark the rim joist every 16 inches along the length of the deck. With a hammer and galvanised joist nails, attach joist hangers to the rim joist so that the top of the floor joist will be even with the top of the rim joist. Cut your floor joists to fit between the rim joists. Place the floor joists in the joist hangers and secure them in place using galvanised joist nails.

  6. 6

    Paint or stain the subframe of the deck at this time to provide protection. Let dry and then add a second coat. This is the only time you will have access to the underside of your deck before the decking is screwed in place.

  7. 7

    Cut and install the decking boards. Overhang the decking boards 11/2 inches on all sides of the deck. Cut the decking as needed using a circular saw. Use your installed floor joists to support the ends of the decking as you cut. Do not allow any two rows of decking to end at the same floor joist. It is best to start every other row with a half piece of decking.

  8. 8

    Stain the decking on the top, bottom and ends of each piece of wood. Let this coat dry and then apply a second coat. This is the only chance to stain the bottom and sides of the decking before it is screwed in place. Use saw horses to support the decking while it dries. Use a power paint sprayer to apply the stain. Use a roller to back-roll the stain. A new roller will help work the stain into the decking and even out the stain,

  9. 9

    Attach the decking to each floor joist that it crosses. Use 3-inch exterior deck screws. Place the screws 1/2 inch from the edge of the decking to prevent the decking from splitting. Use a power screwdriver to drive the top of the screw head just below the surface of the decking.

Tips and warnings

  • Never use paint to cover exterior decking. The paint will not soak into the wood, but only sit on the decking. Use an opaque stain to achieve a exterior finish that soaks into the wood.
  • Wear safety glasses when using power tools.

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