How To Build Your Own Patio DeckAdvertisement
How To Build Your Own Patio Deck – Hi everyone – Ryan here! What I enjoy most about DIY projects like this: They let you take a space you like and make it a space you love. It is either to make a place more pleasant to be in or to take a non-functional…
What I enjoy most about DIY projects like this: They let you take a space you like and make it a space you love. It’s either to make a space more pleasant to be in or take a non-functional space and make it functional. Any time I can check both of those boxes, that’s what makes me the happiest!
How To Build Your Own Patio Deck
So let me introduce you to a project that has made such a difference in how we use outdoor space: our backyard deck.
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I’m writing this post not because there aren’t a million other great deck building tutorials, but because I want to show how you can build a great deck for about $350 and highlight things that many tutorials I’ve read. Not a good cover. So if you’re considering this project for your own home, here’s everything you need to know, step by step, about our DIY wood deck.
This was a “dead” area of sorts in the back of the side yard. When I built our paver patio a few years ago I had a different plan for the space. The plans never materialized, and over time I realized the space would be most useful as a grilling area. Rolling the grills across the paver gaps or through the pea gravel always frustrated me. With a wooden deck they would finally have a home. And the space can also double as a casual outdoor seating area. We dubbed the space “The Cafe” and enjoyed dozens of meals, coffees and bottles of wine perched at our little bistro table we set up there.
So if you’re considering this project for your own home, here’s everything you need to know about our DIY wood deck.
Decks are great because there really isn’t a lot to them. There are only a handful of things you need. And while this is not a sponsored post, I am a huge fan of Home Depot’s “Curbside Pickup”. It’s been especially helpful during the shutdowns, but is a real time saver when you’re on a schedule (I’ve used it about 4 times now with large orders). Just inspect it when they bring it out. Let them know if there’s a problem and they’ll make sure you leave the right stuff – still saving time.
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As any DIYer or contractor would tell you, planning is the most important part. Really taking the time to understand your site and “testing” different designs on paper can save you a lot of money, time and headaches in the long run. Here’s where to start:
What are the dimensions? What will you use it for? Is it out in the open or are there space constraints? Do you need steps? Do you need concrete post forms or can you get away with deck blocks?
As you can see from the pictures, where I built the deck is enclosed on one side by the house and the other sides by our fence. So that really limited me on “how” to build this deck. At the same time, I did not feel like I needed to mix concrete and pour it to anchor the deck. Instead I used a “shed” anchor and concrete deck blocks (more on that below). This saved quite a bit of time.
Once you have measurements, sketch it out. Try to think of all the small areas that can cause issues. For me, the challenge was that the fence line runs at an angle to the house, so to avoid a large gap on the back side of the deck, I had to account for that. It just took a little trial and error, but it didn’t. It’s too hard.
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Can I do it alone? Technically, yes, and for the most part I did, with the exception of a couple of times I needed Ashley to hold a board in place. If you can find a helper, I recommend it.
Will it take? Two very efficient workers could beat that in a day. Give it 2 days to be safe. Working alone, give yourself 3-4 days (or two weekends if you want to think about it that way).
Dig out the area Most decks are built over grass or dirt. Depending on the site and size of deck, you may need to do some additional leveling and digging. In my case, I just had to remove a few wheel barrels full of gravel, then dig squares where the deck footing would go.
Install the Deck Blocks: This was a real trial and error, but it turned out great. I excavated the square areas to my desired depth. Next I lined the holes with weed mat and added leveling sand. Paver sand is much more manageable than dirt especially moist soil – and makes it easier to have a flat area to get the deck block into place.
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Level the deck blocks: I used a 4-foot level to get my deck blocks level with one another, allowing for a slide slope away from the house. The powder sand really helped. If I needed to raise or lower a deck block to get it straight, all I had to do was add or remove deck sand. Originally, plans called for 9 blocks, and I ended up installing only 7. My motto is “over-buy, return later.”
Build the frame: This step will vary greatly depending on your deck area, size and physical constraints. Because I was walled in 3 sides, I used the joist hangers to make the connections. You may not need them if you have room to drill the boards together, which I also did where I could. I was very liberal with my use of deck tape, placing it anywhere there was wood-to-wood or wood-to-metal contact. The deck tape prevents rust that can occur between materials and really extends the life of the deck. I also added corner braces to the four outer corners for extra support. You will also notice that I added additional support from joist beams on the sides. This was a precaution just to ensure that the far ends were well supported.
Shed Anchor: After the frame was built I installed a shed anchor. Because my structure is on the ground and flanked on three sides, the risk of the deck blowing off is low. Still, I felt that absent underground concrete feet, some form of anchor was needed. Don’t be fooled once you get about 2 feet deep, this anchor is really hard to turn into the ground. I suggest a metal pipe or whatever you can find to get leverage on it.
Do a final check and make sure there are no leveling issues. If not, take a break and have a beer, you’re not half way there!
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Duct tape: This, I learned, is extremely important. As mentioned above, the tape adds life to your deck by preventing rot and decay where materials meet. I have a few engineer/contractor friends. When I told them about building the deck, they didn’t first congratulate me, they immediately made sure I used deck joist tape before putting the deck down. Luckily, I did and I got a nice pat on the back. I used about 100 feet worth and they usually come in rolls of 50 or 75 feet.
Finishing touches – at this point I replaced the gravel I had removed earlier, distributing it evenly between the joists. This would still ensure the deck stayed in place and serve as a weed barrier (there is also an actual weed barrier under the gravel). If you don’t have Weed Mat installed, it’s a great idea to add it.
Deck Board Install: This part is pretty straight forward but is where you really see progress! In my case, because of the shape of my deck area, I had to increase my board length by ½ to ¾ inches every 3 boards or so as the space widened to the back. This created an inconsistency to the fence, but was easily addressed by using a circular saw at the end of the job, cutting a nice straight line. I did that, and then the idea of building a “bumper” or rail around the back and fence side of the deck. This actually prevents my grills from ever rolling over the edge. You can see it in some of the photos. It adds a nice finished touch!
Beyond the details of my deck, there are a few things to consider in advance and during the decking any installation.
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Staining, seal, or paint: This is the last step, but don’t do it right away if you used pressure treated wood. The wood is wet and needs time
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