How to Build a Deck in Your Backyard

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Warnings

  • Before following the above instructions, check with your local building department for any special requirements not covered above that may supersede them.

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Step 5: Install Front Rim Joist, Beams, and Interior Joists

Photo by David Carmack

Fasten concealed-flange double joist hangers on the ends of the front rim joist’s inner 2xs. Then fit the inner 2xs into the post bases.

Fit a side rim joist into a front hanger, and square the corner. Secure the front rim joist 2x to the post bases with hanger nails. Then drive six 16d nails through the face of the front rim joist into the end of the side rim joist. Repeat with the other side rim joist.

Fasten face-mounted double joist hangers for beams every 8 feet on center along the front rim joist and ledger, flush with their bottom edges.

Fit and nail each beam as described above.

Complete the doubled front rim joist by gluing and nailing the outer 2xs to the inner 2xs.

Install 2x joist hangers along the beams, 16 inches on center. (Joists, once inserted, should be flush with the top edge of the ledger, rim joists, and beams.)

Step 3. Building Deck Foundation

After making sure the marking paint and stakes were in the correct location, I was ready to dig the 6 holes. The deck will be attached to the house so the footings have to go below the frost line which is 4 ft. deep in my area.

I’m using 12” x 8 ft. sonotubes to line the holes. The 12” diameter provides a wider base to support more weight, and the tubes are easy to cut with a handsaw.

A little mental math: 6 holes X 4 ft. X 1 ft. (12”) = 24 cubic feet of digging. No problem. I began digging one of the 2 holes closest to the house.

It was hard packed sandy soil which had been partially backfilled and packed. The first 2 feet went fairly well, but the deeper I went the less power I had.

I was successful! One down and five to go; four of which were in fully undisturbed soil.

I went down to my local equipment rental company and rented a Motorised Hydraulic Auger with a 4’ auger and extension, and a manual post hole digger. The Motorised Hydraulic Auger is a cantilevered affair so most of the torque goes into the machine and not the operator.

I practiced on my hand dug hole; tidying it up and

I practiced on my hand dug hole; tidying it up and widening it at the bottom and going a couple inches deeper.

The 5 holes went much easier. My soil is sandy loa

The 5 holes went much easier. My soil is sandy loam clay with small rocks so the auger worked well. Make sure the holes are vertical to prevent frost from lifting against the concrete pier.

If your soil is rocky you may want a helper or two. The auger will still do the job, but needs more weight at the auger end to continue to drill downward. If you have bed rock closer than the frost line, then bedrock is how deep you go.

With the holes dug, I removed any loose dirt, and then packed down the bottom as best I could. I used the head of a sledge hammer reaching down the hole and tamping the bottom; more effective than a garden hoe.

You want the bottom to be flat so the weight of the deck pushes on a flat surface. To provide some drainage I also tamped gravel into the bottom the holes; making sure I still had a depth of 4 ft.

The sonotubes went into the holes next. They’re ea

The sonotubes went into the holes next. They’re easy to cut, light to handle, keep the concrete where you want it, and the smooth sides resist lifting by frost.

To make a straight cut on a round tube isn’t easy; I used the newspaper method (see Pro Tip). Make sure you level the top of the sonotube and that it is at least 4”s above the grade to keep wooden posts dry.

I used 1”x2” laid across the sides of the hole and

I used 1”x2” laid across the sides of the hole and screwed to the outside of the tube to keep them from shifting. Wooden wedges between the tube and the hole will work too.

Pro Tip:  To cut sonotubes make a template – tape together two or three pages of newspaper, wrap the sheet around sonotube. Keep the sheet snug. Tape the end of the sheet to itself. To mark the cut line just slide the sheet to the cut point.

Before filling the tubes with concrete, I cut 3 ft

Before filling the tubes with concrete, I cut 3 ft. lengths of ½” rebar. The plan is to push two pieces into each hole after they’re filled with concrete.

The rebar provides additional strength to the concrete and a better foundation for your deck. I used an angle grinder to cut the rebar, it was easier. I also prepared my favorite 6×6 adjustable deck supports so they were ready to insert into the concrete.

With everything ready, it was concrete time! I knew the 6 holes would take approximately 24 cubic feet of concrete, plus 2 extra for the part above ground level.

A cubic yard is 27 cubic feet (a cubic meter is 35.3 cubic feet), so having concrete delivered was going to be too expensive; there’s often a surcharge on small loads too. Bags of ready to mix it would be.

A bag usually does ½ a cubic foot, so I’d need approximately 52 bags. I chose the high strength which cures to 4000 psi in a month. The minimum for a footing is 2500 psi, but 4000 psi is recommended.

The instructions for mixing concrete are on the bag. You don’t want it too soupy or wet as it reduces the compression strength. If it’s too dry it can create fracture lines and air pockets which over time cause the concrete to crumble. It needs to be wet enough to slowly slump, but dry enough to stay mounded in the shovel.

I decided to rent a portable gas powered mixer ($50 for day) from my local equipment rental company. I could have mixed the concrete by shovel or with Lightning Pro concrete mixer in a wheelbarrow, 2 or 3 bags at a time, but it would take longer.

Each footing would require a bit more than 8 bags,

Each footing would require a bit more than 8 bags, by mixing 4 at a time I could fill half a sonotube in two wheelbarrow moves. Don’t mix and move more than you’re comfortable handling.

I began with the two closest to the house and then the single one. After filling half a sonotube, I pushed the shovel up and down in the tube a couple of times to remove air pockets.

Once I had the tube full, I again used the shovel to remove any air pockets in the upper half, and then inserted the two rebar lengths.

After filling the first 3, I reset the mason line

After filling the first 3, I reset the mason line on the two closest to the house and inserted my favorite adjustable deck supports aligned with the string and centered in the tube.

I did the same process with the last three footing

I did the same process with the last three footings. I then cleaned everything up with the garden hose so the tools were as clean as before I started.

To help slow the surface drying time and prevent flaking or cracking, I covered each tube with damp fabric. I kept them damp for about 24 hours. The forecast was good so I didn’t have to cover with plastic, but was prepared if the weatherman was wrong.

After everything had dried, I removed the batter boards and cleaned up the site. I made sure the ground sloped away from the house; I didn’t want water backing into the basement.

I filled in around the sonotubes with dirt and covered with gravel.

I rolled out landscape fabric over the whole are t

I rolled out landscape fabric over the whole are the deck would cover, and spread a 2 – 3 inch layer of gravel over it.

My foundation for the deck was done.

My foundation for the deck was done.

Step 7: Install Blocking Between the Joists

Joist blocking, or bridging, should occur every eight feet, or less. It reduces joist wobble and bounce, and helps prevent the joists twisting. The blocking should be attached flushed with the top of the joists.

I used the end scraps from my joists to reduce waste. I treated all cuts with copper naphthenate–based preservative to prevent rot.

Use a string line and snap a line perpendicular to the joists half way between the beams. Attach the blocking in an alternating pattern on either side of the string line mark to make nailing easier.

The spacing between joists should be the same, so you should be able to cut the blocks the same length. Rim joists however may be spaced differently and need blocks of a different length.

I also used blocking around the perimeter, or rim, of the deck to stiffen the outside joists and provide attachment points for the railing posts. A 3 point attachment makes a stronger and more stable railing than a 1 or 2 point attachment.

I did a lot of cutting (kudos to my DeWALT 12” Sliding Compound Miter Saw DWS780) to make all the blocks and used pounds of screws to attach them in place. The stable deck frame made it worth the extra effort.

Curve framing

Curve framing

I spent a lot of time laying out the joists for the curved deck. I tried to keep the maximum distance between joist ends 12” at center.

To provide the maximum support I narrowed the distance by angling the short joists and attached them to the rim joist using metal angle brackets. That was the tricky part as some short joists were cut with an angle. I did a lot of blocking between the rim and neighbor joist to stiffen up the rim joist.

I found the center of the circle and attached a 1×4 board to the framing with a screw to mark the center. The drawing of the circle was really easy then.

To draw the circle I attached a string to the screw with a pencil at the end, and marked the circle on the joists. I used tape to make the circle more visible.

I cut the joists with a 7 ¼ circular saw. Some joists were cut at an angle. I then added more blocking to frame the outside of the circle and provide attachments for railing posts.

What you need

Tools
Materials

Step 1: Attach the Ledger

Photo by David Carmack

Remove the building’s trim and siding to 1 foot above the top of where the ledger will sit. Cover the exposed sheathing with self-adhering waterproof membrane.

Mark the exact location of the top of the ledger. (By code, any step down to the finish decking, which sits atop the ledger, must be 4 to 7¾ inches below the door sill.) Snap a level chalk line.

Cut a 2-inch-wide, 1½-inch-thick treated wood spacer for every 2 feet of ledger length. Align the top of each spacer with the chalk line and fasten with a 6d nail.

Align the ledger with the tops of the spacers and nail it to the wall at each spacer with a 16d nail. (Joints between ledger boards should fall on a spacer.)

Drill a 3⅜-inch pilot hole through the ledger and into the house’s rim joist at each spacer, following a zigzag pattern. In each hole insert a ½-inch lag screw and tighten it against a washer using an impact wrench or socket wrench.

Conclusion

We hope that we helped you figure out how to build better MTG decks. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. If you’re planning on building a new deck, you might want to get some new sleeves or a deck box. You can find the best MTG sleeves here, and best deck boxes here.

Have you just started with Magic the Gathering? You might want to take a look at best buys for beginners, including a way to get a free sample deck.

If you don’t want to miss the next article, folllow us on Instagram or Facebook. We post plenty of awesome stuff there, including MTG memes. 🙂

Safety Considerations

Safety should always be top priority when doing any project. Observe all safety recommendations that come with the power tools. Some of the building materials such as the four-by-fours are heavy, so have an assistant help you carry them.

If you choose to use a composite or synthetic PVC deck board, be aware that these materials have shorter joist spans than the specified pressure-treated two-by-sixes. In fact, the joist spans can be as short as 16 inches.

Tools

  • Circular saw
  • Electric miter saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Marking paint
  • Post-hole digger
  • Narrow shovel
  • Twine and stakes
  • Hammer
  • Wrench
  • Laser level or string line level

Materials

  • 3 four-by-fours, each 12 feet long
  • 25 two-by-sixes
  • 12 concrete pier blocks with adjustable metal brackets
  • 8 to 12 bags of drainage gravel
  • #9 x 1-1/2-inch external flange hex-head screw
  • #9 x 3-inch deck screws
  • Deck stain and protectant
  • Roller frame, cover and extension pole

ABOUT OUR WEBSITE

Welcome to the Deck Cost Guide, your source for deck ideas and information that will help you select the right deck material and deck brand to complete your deck.

7. Find New Cards for Deck Building

When you’re working on your MTG deck buildin

When you’re working on your MTG deck building, you probably won’t remember every single card in existence. But sometimes you need to know if there is a certain effect available in your colors. Or if there is another playable one drop for your aggro deck. That’s where Scryfall can help you.

Scryfall

What Google is for websites – Scryfall is for Magic the Gathering cards. Their advanced search is great.

You can search based on any criteria you can imagine – such as:

  • Mana cost
  • Creature type
  • Color
  • Rules text
  • Format legality
  • etc.

Deck Building Materials

Plans in hand and barbecues on your mind, you’re ready to hit the home supply store to pick up the goods necessary to make your deck dream a reality.

First of all, you’ll need the boards. Pressure-treated lumber is probably your best bet because it’ll sustain the trials of weathering, although cedar is commonly used for decks as well. You may want to consider composite materials made from wood leftovers or plastics — these products mimic the look of wood and require about the same amount of time to install and maintain.

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No matter the wood you choose, you’ll also need 4×4 posts, cement, joists (for framing), brackets, stain or paint and waterproof finishes. To secure these materials into your finished product, you’re going to need a drill, a saw, a measuring tape, a level, a ladder and a pair of safety glasses.

Once you’ve assembled all of these essentials, which will vary in number and amount depending on the size and design of your deck, you’re also going to need the nuts and bolts of the operation — literally. J bolts, post anchors, various sizes of carriage bolts and lag screws all meet certain specifications needed to bear the weight and size of your deck. In addition, 16d nails and galvanized deck screws (usually 2 inches (5.08 cm) or more in length) are also essential to this project [source: Lowe’s].

Problems with Pesticides­

Wood is the most common building material for decks. But many woods are treated with chemicals, like CCA (chromated copper arsenate), which repels water, pests and sun. CCA has been listed as a pesticide by the EPA, so you should look into alternatives, like ACQ (alkaline copper quaternary). This protectant is made without arsenic or chromium, key components in CCA. One key thing to be aware of is that pressure-treated wood is weakened by these chemicals, which means that you shouldn’t mix old and new woods. When in doubt, ask your home supply store staff or a construction professional about which wood is best for you. ­

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What to Do

Step 1: Choose and prepare your site

Start with a site inspection. For most houses, the most practical spot for a deck is along the back wall next to a door. This provides easy access to the house. Convenience isn’t the only matter to consider, factor in natural elements such as winds in your area and how the sun will hit the deck, with north facing decks to try and be avoided. Pay special attention to the location of drains and any external plumbing, because once your deck has been built, it will be hard to access the area under it.

After you have selected your preferred deck site, prepare the ground by making sure the area has adequate ventilation and drainage, you may have to lay some Agi-Pipe before you start building to avoid any surface water lying about underneath. Rake the area clear and undertake any weed control that might be necessary (weed killer or weed mat).

Step 2: Mark out the site

*This stage requires you to be very accurate, so take your time and don’t rush, it will save you a lot of time and money further down the track.

Mark out the width and length of the deck where it will connect to the house using stakes and string line. As you proceed, make sure the marked area is square, you can check this be measuring the diagonals and making sure they are equal lengths.

Figure 1: How to get a square area
Figure 1: How to get a square area

Step 3: Set out the posts

Set up the bearer spacings at a minimum of 1800mm centres with stump holes no more than 1500mm apart. The outside run of stumps will need to align with the outside edge of the deck.

If setting timber post straight into the ground you may wish to coat the timber that comes in contact with the ground with some type preservative.

If using stirrups allow for at least a 75mm clearance between the ground and the bottom of the post.

Fill the hole with a mixture of approximately 2 bags of concrete or rapid set mix following the guidelines on the bag.

Use a spirit level to make sure posts are vertical, then temporarily brace the posts and allow for concrete to set.

Figure 2: Decking Terminology
Figure 2: Decking Terminology

Step 4: Add the framing

Measure the decking, joist and bearer thickness.

Against the house wall measure this thickness down from the intended floor height of the deck.

If your house is brick then connect a 140 x 45mm F.7. timber ledger to the brickwork using dyna bolts at 450mm intervals. If you have a weatherboard house, ideally bearers should be joined to the existing bearers of your house; however you may use a timber ledger in a similar fashion as a brick house, using coach screws instead of dyna bolts.

Once the plate has been fixed and therefore the bearer height determined, the posts can be marked for cutting to height. Make sure that allowance is made for the method of fixing the bearer before determining the cutting height of the posts, then using a square, string line and level mark all the remaining posts and cut them to the correct height.

Fix remaining bearers to posts, using either a framing anchor or housing joint.

Check all levels and angles once again.

Set joists on top of bearers every 450 – 600mm for hardwood decking using framing anchors.

Step 5: Lay the decking

Beginning next to the house wall, lay decking across the joists, screwing to each joist with two stainless or galvanised screws, pre-drilling to avoid the timber splitting. Ensure this is done carefully as this is the most visible part of the deck.

Use spacers approximately 5mm thick for small boards and up to 8mm thick for larger boards to ensure a neat finish. By checking the intended finishing width of the deck minor adjustment can be made to this spacing to ensure the outside decking board finishes in the correct location. This may include allowance for any barge boards fitted to the stumps below the deck.

Make sure all decking board joins are over a joist, and these should be randomly positioned on different joists so they blend into the finished deck and are not noticed.

A string line should be run or chalk line flicked alongside every 4th or 5th board as they are being laid to check and adjust for straightness.

To get a straight, even edge to the finished deck, let the ends overhang about 50mm, then trim them all together with a circular saw when you’ve completed laying all boards.

Step 6: Finish the Deck

If you have chosen a hard durable decking surface such as spotted gum or ironbark, a decking finish is optional. Remember, most timbers left to age naturally will turn to a silver grey colour over a year or so after completion. We do advise you to use an oil or sealer to help maintain the beauty and life of your deck. Finishes come in a range of colours and types so feel free to call or come into our store to ask us on some advice or collect some free samples.

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