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10 tips for building a deck

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1. Parallel or perpendicular

When planning your deck, decide if you want the deck boards to lay parallel or perpendicular to your house. Whichever way you decide will determine which way your joists run. Parallel boards will have perpendicular joists, and vice-versa.

2. Check your grading

Even if the ground where you will be building looks flat, check the grading so you know ahead of time if allowances need to be made in your deck design.

3. Slope it

Remember to slope your deck away from your house and other structures in order to drain water in the right direction. Design a slope of 1/8 to 1/4 inch for every foot of decking. Build your slope into the structure under your deck and the top decking will simply follow the same angle.

4. Ledger board

Before you fasten a ledger board to a structure, attach the joist hangers to the ledger board first. Be sure to double check your measurements so they are set at the correct height.

5. Deck board spacers

Every wood deck needs space between the boards to allow for air circulation. The easiest thing to use as a spacer is a nail. Hammer the nail into a plastic jar lid to keep it from falling through the cracks between the boards. The lid will make your spacer easy to see and easy to move.

6. Cut deck boards straight

Don’t cut your deck boards to the exact length. Cut them a little longer so the ends hang over the outside edge of your deck. Then cut all the ends at once with a circular saw. Attach a straight edge board to your deck to use as a guide for your circular saw.

7. Screw depth

Don’t sink screws too far into the decking material or you will create tiny pockets where water will collect. It’s better to sink screws flush with the deck surface.

8. Hide board ends

For a clean and professional looking finish, hide the cut ends of your deck boards. The easiest way is to raise the skirting board so the top is flush with the deck surface. Another way is to install a perimeter board around the outside edges of your deck.

9. Railing balusters

When you attach the balusters, always start in the centre so the leftover space on each end is equal. You can start with a space in the middle or a baluster in the middle to allow the most even spacing.

10. Don’t give critters a home

The space under your deck, even if its small, can become a home for unwanted wildlife. Dig a one foot deep trench around the outside perimeter of your deck. Secure a piece of quarter inch wire mesh along the bottom of the deck, then fill in the trench.

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