|Come on—you could knock this deck out in no time!|
Remember that a deck usually requires a building permit, and hence plans. Whether you design and build the deck yourself or hire a pro to do it, here are some basic practical guidelines for both economy and good looks:
• Minimize the number of piers. Usually, you can support the entire deck on a pair of widely-spaced main girders (or even a single girder if the deck is attached to the house on one edge). Unless the deck is gigantic, these girders can usually be supported by as few as two piers. The girders, in turn, support the deck joists. Fewer piers means less concrete work, and less chance of errors and misalignments.
|Cantilevered deck framing allows you to add skirting|
that will conceal those ugly piers.
(Image courtesy of Boston Decks and Porches Blog)
|Screws in hardwood decking need to be predrilled and|
countersunk. The Smart Bit, shown here, is one way to do it
• Consider different decking patterns. Standard 2x6 spaced decking is fine for Modernist-era houses, but a more interesting pattern might be better suited for traditional home styles. Try using 2x6 deck planks alternated with 2x4s or 2x2s to produce a visual rhythm. Very small-scale decks will look better with narrower decking—using 2x4s flat or even on edge will help produce a finer scale.
|No matter what style of deck rail you choose,|
make sure that it matches the style of your house.
(Image courtesy Salter Spiral Stair)
Screws are available in stainless steel, or with a galvanized or black oxide coating. I’ve found that galvanizing usually splinters off the heads of the screws as they're being driven, inviting rust in the worst possible place, so I prefer the oxide-coated or stainless variety. They look better, too.
Since the screws heads are quite noticeable, take care to drive them in neat rows—use a chalkline if you have to. Set the heads either flush or just ever so slightly below the surface of the decking. If the heads are set too deep, they’ll collect water and promote rot. If the wood shrinks later on and the heads become proud of the surface, you can always re-tighten them until they're flush.
|All done. Time to grab a cool one and relax.|
• Use a simple guardrail that matches the style of your house. For example, a heavy, complicated wooden railing might be at home with a Craftsman or Ranch-style home, but it will be at odds with a Spanish Revival house. Any railings that already exist on the house—on the front porch, perhaps—will provide a good clue to the style of railing you should use on the deck.