How To Build A Deck

May 6th 2015
How To Build A Deck

Before you build a deck, consider location. This isn't a problem if you have all four sides of the home available. If not, you'll need to decide what location is best. The preferred space would be southeast exposure to take advantage of the all-day sun.

Every deck requires a solid base and a step away from or down from the main building. What is a step away from? Some people may call this a level entry or exit deck surface, with no obstructions when manoeuvring in or out. I like to build this type of deck without attaching a ledger to the existing building. (A ledger is a structural member fastened to the main building that the joists rest on and project out to the grade beam locations.) This would not be my preference, since this could affect the level of the deck if the building settled.

I prefer to locate treated posts or concrete pilings to the level of the grade beams and the deck joists to the required level for level entry at door locations. This will allow the main structure to move up or down and not interfere with the deck level.

This application can be used to accommodate a step down to the appropriate grade beam level if level entry is not feasible. This procedure will not interfere with the main structure in the event of frost heave or unstable ground settling.

For a wood-structured deck, the main structural component normally is wood (grade beams, joists, steps, etc.). Choose pressure-treated to protect against fungal rot deterioration and bug infestation.

For drip-through decks, planks are applied to joists with an opening between the planks to allow water to drip through. You may use western red cedar planks, pressure-treated (certified) or composite materials. All drip-through deck planks must be applied with concealed fasteners to enable future finishing if required.

Western red cedar comes with a major decision: do you finish it with stain or paint, or do you leave it raw? How do you fasten it to the joists? When you stain or paint, you must do all four sides and ends to protect the wood fibres from water penetration. The wood must be no more than 10-per-cent moisture content.

If water is locked or sealed into the wood fibres under the stain or paint, it will cause blistering or peeling when the heat or the direct sun draws out the moisture. If a clear, semitransparent stain is used, select which face will be up in order to have the best cosmetic look.

Selecting a finish stain or paint is your decision, but the lowest price is not the way to go for long-lasting quality. Always read the instructions thoroughly.

Western red cedar has Mother Nature's protection against the elements, leaving it to turn a natural grey colour. You should clean this type of patio twice a year with a wood wash. If you must apply a finish, consider a clear penetrating finish. Major Canadian paint manufacturers formulate these finishes for our harsh environment.

If you need a professional to build a deck for you, we have qualified builders as a part of Shell Busey's Housesmart Home Service Referral Network, you can call our office at 604 542 2236.