Author Topic: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?  (Read 2064 times)

Online Jeff

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Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« on: June 16, 2004, 04:45 PM »
Hiya Guys Gals (I know there are 1-2 of you females out there),

Summer is here in full effect and we are ready to get rolling on our big summer project:
We are attempting to add a deck onto our house this summer.  

We started out in May (the five days it didn't rain) by preparing the ground/landscaping around the house:  moving trees/bushes/shrubs, building a new garden, pulling out some old hostas, etc.  Now that the area along the house and yard have been landscaped for the deck, it's time to actually start building the dang thing, and the more I learn about it, the more daunting a task it is appearing to be.

I've got my plans (thanks Home Depot!) and building permit in hand, and the raw materials will be delivered this weekend.  We've also rented up some power equipment this weekend to help us dig the 42" deep holes in my yard this weekend...

Anyone got some helpful tips for digging post holes?
Anyone out there in JD land ever built a deck before?  
Any helpful tips that you can offer up to a Novice Deck Craftsman such as myself?
(sarcastic "don't nail your hand to the deck" comments are not needed, but fully expected from you turkeys)  :P

I realize that we're all SW dorks, therefore the stereotype indicates that we aren't exactly outdoor-builder type craftsman, but I don't believe in stereotypes, so I'd like to think that SOMEONE else has gone through this before...

 ;)

Jeff
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Offline Rob

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2004, 05:00 PM »
I don't have tips for digging post holes, but I did help build a deck for two days once trying to make some extra cash for a Rome trip I was about to go on.

It was actually easier (in terms of technical difficulties) than I thought it would be...but it was a lot of hard work.

It came out nicely though.  :)

Good luck.

Offline Nicklab

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2004, 05:19 PM »
There are actually some manually operated drills/augers that you can use to dig post holes.  There are also some specialized shovels for doing that, too.  The tricky thing is this:  how deep does your town's building code require you to get your posts & concrete or cement?  The deeper you have to go, the tougher it's going to be.  Be sure you check the town's building code to get the proper depth.

As for the deck itself, I recommend nails over using screws for securing the planks to the joists.  Nails are a lot faster, whereas screws are more labor intensive.  You also might want to consider an adhesive coated nail for a more secure joint.  A pneumatic nail gun will speed this process up immensely.  If you don't have one and don't want to buy one, you can probably rent one.  You may be able to rent an auger as well.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2004, 05:20 PM by Nicklab »
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Offline Morgbug

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2004, 05:27 PM »
We built a deck on our house in 2001 after the previous one all but collapsed.  It was rather old (20+ years) and we could almost pull it apart by hand :o  It was also shaped inconveniently around the area where our pool is, so we rebuilt-reshaped everything to work better.  We also needed rails to prevent the kid from wandering out.  

As far as post holes go, decide if you want holes or you want concrete post pads first.  The pads are nifty, weigh a ton and keep the posts out of the ground so there is less likelihood of rot at the base.  We actually buried our cement pads after putting the posts in.  The pads are pretty cheap, probably $5-10 each and really help stabilize the deck.  If you're adamant about post holes, use a post hole digger.  Better yet, get a tube and sink it in the hole, pouring in concrete after.  The cement pads are the same concept, just easier.  

Use 2x10s for the frame of the deck, well worth the additional cost for the return in strength you get.  Probably won't add to the longevity, but won't detract from it either.  

Measure twice, cut once and use a level every single time you attach something.  Use screws, not nails.  Nails pop and tend to rust more easily.  Replacing rotting boards down the road is much easier with screws as well, just reverse the drill.  A whole lot better than using a crowbar to pry up a rotting board, damaging the surrounding boards at the same time.  I think we used 3 1/2 or 2 3/4 inch screws for putting it together.  I'll try and find the spares at home to answer your question.  

Inspect the wood, don't let some home depot give you a bunch.  If you get a warped piece, take it back.  It's defective and a pain to them, but you are paying a premium for flat wood.  Also use pressure treated wood if you are still able.  Copper chromated arsenic is an evil thing, if you listen to the environmental working group, but your kid would have to ingest 2.5 ounces per day for life to get the chronic dose that might, just might lead to cancer in about 50 years (never mind the confounding factors they'll face in the interim).  I know Minnesota is not exactly the hotbed for termites, but carpenter ants can do their fair share of damage too.

Dork my ass :-*
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2004, 11:30 PM »
I've put up 2 decks...  They're a pain to do from scratch/design yourself.  

No real helpful hints unless you really don't know much abut woodworking.

Digging of the posts for us was the easiest part (even with this Western PA dirt, which is filled with Shale and Coal).  We had the proper tools to start that though, and cement them into place....

Wear some sunblock, but get a nice bronze...  That's my advice while you're out there.  

And mind your patience because if you're like me you'll wind up doing it by yourself if you don't control your temper.   ;D
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Offline Mikey D

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2004, 08:08 AM »
Have lots of beer on hand.  Trust me, you'll be sore afterwards, especially if you're not used to physical labor.  Beer will ease the pain.

I'd also go with screws.  Nails suck and you will definitely feel it in your shoulder after swinging a hammer all day.  Buy a nice drill / screw gun (I recommend Dewalt).  Trust me, for $129 at Home Depot, you'll get your money's worth.

And I'm proud to say I'm not part of that stereotype ;)
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Online Jeff

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2004, 09:51 AM »
how deep does your town's building code require you to get your posts & concrete or cement?  

City Code is at least 42" deep for concrete, posts can be attached to the top of the concrete footing.


Better yet, get a tube and sink it in the hole, pouring in concrete after.  The cement pads are the same concept, just easier.  

Use 2x10s for the frame of the deck, well worth the additional cost for the return in strength you get.  Probably won't add to the longevity, but won't detract from it either.  

[snip]
Use screws, not nails.  Nails pop and tend to rust more easily.  Replacing rotting boards down the road is much easier with screws as well, just reverse the drill.  

[snip]
Inspect the wood, don't let some home depot give you a bunch.  If you get a warped piece, take it back.  It's defective and a pain to them, but you are paying a premium for flat wood.  Also use pressure treated wood if you are still able.  Copper chromated arsenic is an evil thing, if you listen to the environmental working group, but your kid would have to ingest 2.5 ounces per day for life to get the chronic dose that might, just might lead to cancer in about 50 years (never mind the confounding factors they'll face in the interim).  I know Minnesota is not exactly the hotbed for termites, but carpenter ants can do their fair share of damage too.

The "dig a hole, add cardboard tube, then add concrete" method is the one the city told us to use.  We also plan on using 2x10's (another recommendation from the City Inspector's Office).  We also plan on using treated wood, but it is somehting different as the CCA stuff has been banned I think...


And mind your patience because if you're like me you'll wind up doing it by yourself if you don't control your temper.   ;D

The wife has also already warned me about this one :)


Have lots of beer on hand.  Trust me, you'll be sore afterwards, especially if you're not used to physical labor.  Beer will ease the pain.

I'd also go with screws.  Nails suck and you will definitely feel it in your shoulder after swinging a hammer all day.  Buy a nice drill / screw gun (I recommend Dewalt).  Trust me, for $129 at Home Depot, you'll get your money's worth.


I'll have to check into the DeWalt drill screw gun, thanks for the tip.  I was pretty sure my wimpy little Craftsman cordless drill wasn't going to be up to the challenge since the battery charge only lasts about 2-3 hours (I definately need a new battery), but maybe I should lookinto a new drill/screw gun.

And we're planning on having plenty of cold beer around along with some brats on the grill... that's how we're bribing most of our helpers!

Thanks for the tips fellas!  Maybe I'll post a few pictures along the way to keep you updated on the progress...

Jeff
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Offline Famine

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2004, 10:01 AM »
Nataku, you sound like me with my Pizza bribe working on my haunted house last Halloween!


I worked on building a complete new railing system on my front porch, if that counts for anything.

Kevin
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Offline Mikey D

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2004, 10:02 AM »
Jeff, I know from first hand experience that your Craftsman isn't going to cut it.  Along with the short battery time, it doesn't have the horsepower.

I've bought four Dewalt tools in the last month and a half - drill, circular saw, jigsaw and palm sander.  No complaints whatsoever.  Plus, they're all a kick ass yellow color.
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Online Jeff

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2004, 10:26 AM »
Yeah, that's kinda what I figures.  The cordless Craftsman rocks at putting furniture together, doing small house projects (hanging shelves, etc), but I figured it wasn't gonna cut it under heavy use.

I've got a DeWalt Mitre Saw that I bought last year to help with installation of hardwood floors and the new trim we put in all of our bedrooms.  It's been a great saw so far, so it's nice to hear another testimony that they are good tools.

Might just have to hit Menards and Home Depot this weekend for a little shopping...

Jeff
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Offline Morgbug

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2004, 12:27 PM »
Jeff, I know from first hand experience that your Craftsman isn't going to cut it.  Along with the short battery time, it doesn't have the horsepower.

I've bought four Dewalt tools in the last month and a half - drill, circular saw, jigsaw and palm sander.  No complaints whatsoever.  Plus, they're all a kick ass yellow color.

Not that it's a necessary seconding, but I'll definitely vouch for the DeWalt quality.  We were using a 30 year old corded drill and a cordless DeWalt when we put our deck together, both did fine.  Our little black and decker cordless almost went for a swim.  Pile of crap.  Not that all Black & Decker stuff is bad, just this one was sadly underpowered.  We currently own the drill, reciprocating saw and a palm sander from DeWalt.  Any future purchases are likely to be the same.  Gotta love yellow.  

I wasn't aware that CCA was already gone in the US.  Oh well, as long as it is treated with something as a preservative.  Again, I don't agree with getting rid of it once you examine the real exposure levels, but then again I'm not in the US regulatory system.  

Sounds like you're in good shape.  We did ours over the span of several days so it wasn't so bad, but we did the work mostly ourselves.  Tearing up the old one was much more work and part of the recommendation for going with screws.  They can likely be re-used and nobody was willing to haul away wood loaded with nails.  So I ended up pulling them all out by hand before the old take was removed from our property.  By far the most work I had to do.  I guess it depends on how long you plan on living there.  I would guess the deck should last somewhere between 20-30 years.  

Beer good. :)
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Offline Jedi Idej

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2004, 08:29 PM »
Forty-two inches... Yikes! I'm guessing that's because of the freeze level(?). When you're digging, be careful about underground wiring or pipes. These should be on file in your appropriate county office, and in my area, it's recommended that they be checked if digging more than 36".

If you can't rent a motorized -- or even manual -- auger, well... have fun.  :-*  If the ground is really hard, tools that'll help include those big metal spear-like spikes, a water hose with a jet nozzle (a pressure washer is even better), and dynomite.  :P




Online Jeff

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2004, 10:22 AM »
Well,

It's been about a month so I thought I'd post a little update.  We've worked about 5 weekends on the deck so far and things are coming along nicely.  

Here's a shot of the largest (14x14) portion of the deck:



Due to our schedules, we really only get to put in about 10-12 hours of work each weekend, and maybe 4-6 hours of work during the week, so we are a little behind the original schedule we had planned.  I'd guess we are about 33% done with the back deck and about 25% done with the side deck (it's a wrap-around).

Summer is so hectic (in MN you have to enjoy the weather while you have it), but things are calming down now so we should be able to really hit it hard in August!  

Jeff
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Offline Mikey D

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2004, 11:56 AM »
I wouldn't keep that downspout where it is, it might cause some problems later on down the line.  If you do decide to replace your gutters, getting that piece out and putting it back is going to be a bitch.  It wouldn't be so bad if it was a higher deck where you could get under it, but being so low to the ground is going to make it difficult.  Just a suggestion.

Edit to add:
Deck looks great so far, Jeff.  Definitely interested in seeing the final product.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2004, 11:57 AM by Mikey D »
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Offline Morgbug

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Re: Has Anyone Built a Deck Before?
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2004, 12:11 PM »
Gotta love those hangers for the boards, some brilliant mind thought those up.  Are you 12" or 16" spacing?  Too late to change now, but I think we went 12".  More expensive, but the deck is as solid as concrete, no bouncing at all.  

It looks good, but Mikey's point is a good one.  Move that spout or you'll end up with a lot of moisture under your deck.  

Can't tell, but I presume you poured the concrete for the posts?  

Also surprised to see how low to the ground the house is.  Up here, you see very, very few houses that you can just step out of.  Most have steps, 3-4 and the elevation of the floor is about 3-3.5 feet off the ground, presumably to allow for windows in the basement.  Do you guys have a basement?

Know what you mean about enjoying the weather while you have it. ;)
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