Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Building a Wood Deck on Your Home

By: Danny Lipford

Watch this video to find out how to build a wood deck on your home, including:

  • Deck foundation
  • Deck framing
  • Laying deck boards
  • Deck stairs
  • Deck handrails
  • Deck seating
  • Covered grilling area
  • Wood lattice around the deck
  • Storage under the deck

Read episode article to find out more.

Further Information

Print   Video Transcript

Danny Lipford: These homeowners have done a great job landscaping their backyard. We’re going to add an element to help them enjoy it even more.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, the voice of home improvement, with projects tips, and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: David and Dianne Palmer have done a great job landscaping their backyard, especially if you see what it looked like a couple years ago when they bought the place. It was completely overgrown with head high shrubs and all of that had to be cleared up, and they built a retaining wall at the lower part of the wall using crossties. Then a lot of dirt to level out to create this nice little play area for the kids.

Of course the grass and all the shrubs, the water feature all kind of center around a concrete slab that’s been here for a number of years. Now they thought that this would be the perfect place for an outdoor living area and entertainment area but they found out real quickly that it’s just a little too far away from the house itself.

So the solution here is to build a large wood deck attached to the house and it’ll expand out to about 16 feet, lots of handrail, seating area, and a very important stairway that’ll provide transition from that level down to this level, tying everything together in this backyard. Also we hope we find a little place somewhere for a slightly larger grill.

We’re just about to get started on the building of a large wood deck in this area that’ll extend out about 16 feet. That’ll also be up about this high so there’ll be a lot of space that’ll be available underneath the deck for storage, and we’ll share with you later how we’re going to keep all that stuff dry.

Now, a wood deck or any type of deck is something that’s on a lot of people’s list in order to build that outdoor entertainment area and this one will certainly serve that purpose. But also it’ll have stairs on the other side that’ll provide a nice transition down to the original concrete slab, or patio as the homeowners were using it. Now we’ll take you through ever aspect of building a deck, including the posts, the layout, all of the framing, seats, as well as all the handrails that are really important that they be done right.

Now, our first step here is a little bit of demolition and the layout of the deck. These brick stairs will have to go because they’ll interfere with the joists that will support the deck. Fortunately we don’t have to take all of them out, just the top step or two. While that’s going on, we’ll make a rough layout of the deck so that we’ll know what’s inside the footprint and what needs to be moved.

For a more precise layout the crew sets up batter boards so they can pull strings at the exact height and dimension of the deck. As decks go, this is a fairly simple one but the homeowners are excited about it for a lot of reasons.

David Palmer: I’m definitely most excited about having my own space on the deck to where I can come outside and grill and enjoy the outside, and get out of her way in the kitchen.

Dianne Palmer: Well, that’s true. When David grills, he’s usually sitting out at the carport grilling if it’s raining, kind of separate from the house. And we’re not all around each other when we’re outside grilling and cooking out.

But I’m looking forward to having the kids outside more, to being able to sit outside with them, um just to have the space right off the den where we don’t have to have the steep steps coming down to get toward the patio and the backyard.

David Palmer: When we bought the house it had this patio out here, which is probably about 30 feet away from the house, and we completed the backyard. But there was a big separation, and we just never really came out to the patio and used the backyard as much. So we wanted an area where we could just walk straight off the back and enjoy and also just lead to down to the patio and have the kids more in the backyard when we’re watching.

Dianne Palmer: We did an awful lot of work to the backyard since we moved into the house. We had a completely wooded backyard with the exception of the patio area. And now that we a nice backyard—landscaped, our fountain—we want to be able to sit back here and enjoy it. When we have company over we just don’t tend to come out, I mean we’ll walk back here but I think because of the separation between the house and the patio, the distance, we just use this area as much.

David Palmer: Coming off the French doors off the den, being able to open up and basically add square footage or, living space to the house you know without having to add brick and mortar is going to be a big help.

Dianne Palmer: Just more entertaining space.

Danny Lipford: This layout should certainly provide that, since we’re creating about 400 square feet of deck here. To support that, these guys are sinking six by six posts into the ground, surrounded by concrete. Now a tool like this motorized auger takes some muscle to manage, but believe me it’s a lot quicker than digging all these holes by hand.

The notches that are being cut into the posts are for the outer band, or band joists, to rest in. This kind of joint is much stronger than just attaching the two by eights with screws or nails alone. Once the rest of the joists are added in between the outer band, blocking is added to stiffen and strengthen the whole structure. With that same goal in mind the band joists are doubled, but this time we make miters at the corners because this joint will be very visible when the deck is finished.

Now, speaking of visibility, the most visible part of the deck comes next, the deck boards themselves. By laying out several feet of boards, then prying them all tight together at one time, Mark can ensure a good snug fit. It also allows him to pull strings across the deck to act as a nailing guide, so that all of the fasteners line up in nice straight rows. And the way the boards tuck neatly under the brick ledge of the doorway is just another example of how planning for the little things really pays off.

Four carpenters, two days, some nice weather and a few air tools, and look how much work they’ve been able to complete! All of the framing all of the deck boards, but now here’s where things start slowing down on a deck project like this because you really start getting into a lot of the details.

Now, some of those details include a roof covering over this part of the deck, then we have handrails all the way around the deck, and another aspect of deck building that can be some of the most intimidating work for many homeowners is to build a set of stairs from this level down to the ground. We’ll check that out next right after this.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.

Joe Truini: If you’re an active do-it-yourselfer, chances are you own this tool. It’s a cordless drill driver. It’s a great tool for drilling holes and driving screws. But if you’re like me, and you always need an excuse to buy a new tool, this is it.

This compact tool, though it looks like a drill, it’s actually an impact driver. It’s made specifically for driving screws. This is a great tool for driving screws whether you’re deck building. Or even long, really long, screws or lag screws that you could never do with a cordless drill driver, or certainly not do very easily.

This tool has rotation and percussion power to drive the screw, listen to this. That sound you hear is this tool actually hammering and rotating the screw at the same time.

Now an impact driver such as this does cost a bit more than a cordless drill driver, but it has three to four times the power, so it’s a great tool for any of those long screws and jobs that you have to drive lots of screws quickly.

Danny Lipford: This deck project is going just about as good as any deck project I’ve ever seen. And what a perfect place for the deck, centered up on this bank of French doors here that lead into a family room, then another door on this side that leads out from the kitchen. What a perfect layout.

Now, originally the owners thought they wanted two sets of stairs—one on this side leading down to the little original concrete patio, and another set here leading up from the driveway. But after thinking about it they decided it would work better for them and their family to have a center landing here, and then have one set of the stairs here closer to the carport and the other set here leading down to the patio on this side. This should work great and really the symmetry of it will really add to the overall look of the deck.

Now, there’s an original set of stairs on this side—the brick stairs that have been here all along—and they’ve been left undisturbed. And yet just enough room between the tree and the deck that this works very nicely for the transition down to this part of the yard as well.

Now, when you’re building a set of stairs, it can be a little intimidating for some homeowners. But the basic thing you need to know is you need some nice, comfortable stairs to go from this level down to the lower lever. That starts with determining the height of the drop, in this case we’re right at 62 to 63 inches.

Now, for a safe set of stairs they don’t need to exceed seven or eight inches. If you divide seven inches into that 62 or 63, you’re talking about nine stair steps. Now, for a step being around a foot, that means we’re going to have to project out nine feet in order to get the type of steps that we’re looking for here. That’ll actually exceed the outside dimensions of the deck, which isn’t any problem at all.

Now, this is one set of stairs. Over here they’ve already started working on this part of it, with the foundation here. And this may even be an extra step on this one, because this is a little higher on this side. Now building a set of steps like this is really not that hard, let’s take you through the whole process a step at a time.

The stringers are created by making a series of cuts into a two by 12 at 90-degree angles to each other. The rise of each step, as I mentioned earlier, is determined by the height of the landing; but you’ll have a little more flexibility on the tread lengths. Now here we want them to accommodate two 5/4 by six-inch deck boards per step, so we’re cutting the treads around 10 inches to leave a little overhang or nosing. However the most important thing is that all of the risers are the same height, and that all of the treads are the same length.

Now, a little digging is necessary at the bottom of the stairway to create a level landing, so that we can test fit the first stringer before using it as a pattern to cut all the others. At the top the stringers rest on a two by two ledger board and are nailed to the decks band joist. At the bottom they’re nailed to a six by six inner leveled trench.

The riser faces are covered with a piece of one by eight, while several equal lengths of the 5/4-inch decking are cut to the treads. If the tread boards have any cup to them, it’s best to attach them with the curve facing down to avoid any possible tripping hazards.

Another important safety consideration is the deck rails, which are being made from two by four material. The top piece will be positioned horizontally while the bottom piece will sit vertically with a slight bevel cut at the top to shed water. Each of the spindles is cut with the same angle, so when they’re nailed in place, they won’t twist.

After the top rail is nailed, the whole unit can be put right in place between the post before a piece of the 5/4 material is attached to cap the whole thing off. Our stairs and handrails took just about as much time to build as this large deck, but they’re such an important part of any deck.

Make sure the stairs are nice and safe and handrails are sturdy, and that they comply with your local building codes. Now, your building codes will tell you just how high your handrail needs to be and exactly how much space you can tolerate between the spindles themselves. That’s very important when you have small children and pets that will be using the deck.

And another really important element when you’re talking about children, having the little kiddy blocks under what we call them, because they love to stand on the bottom handrails and this will protect that from bowing away. Also, will keep it a little more rigid, because wood has a tendency to warp a little bit, this will help to keep the handrail itself nice and straight.

Now, there’s a lot of ways to accessorize handrails that really can make a difference on your overall deck. One being little pediments like this and then putting copper caps on it makes a big difference.

You might consider lighting. I’ve even seen rope lighting under the handrail itself that kind of gives a nice glow around the perimeter of the deck, that’s not a bad idea. Another thing that a lot of homeowner request, having seating built into the handrail itself, we’ll look at that next.

Announcer: Let’s join Danny at the home center to check out this week’s Best New Product.

Danny Lipford: Painting is a project many homeowners are willing to take on themselves, but a good paintjob starts with selecting the right paint. So if you’re choosing for, say a kitchen or bathroom, you’ll want one that can really hold up to moisture, high traffic, or an occasional stain. To do that this kitchen and bath enamel from Behr uses nanoguard technology to protect itself and your walls.

The key ingredients in the paint are nano-sized particles that improve the performance of the paint and create a really hard durable finish that blocks all stains, soap scum, or food splatters, won’t penetrate the paint so they can easily be wiped right off.

The surface is also water resistant and because the tiny particles make it denser it’s harder for mildew to grow on it than on other paints. In addition this paint contains mildewcide that protect against a broader spectrum of mold and mildew and that means a lot less cleaning for you.

Announcer: For more information about the products featured in this segment visit our website at todayshomeowner.com

Danny Lipford: We’re back out on our deck project where we’re building a sizeable outdoor living area for homeowners David and Dianne.

Now the deck is being built in kind of a void in the yard between the house itself and an old concrete patio they’ve had for years. Now, the patio is just a little too far away from the house to really use it a lot but the deck adjoining the house, and having doorways leading right out on the deck will make it a lot more convenient, which means they’ll use it a lot more.

Now, one of the things that we’re doing now is to add a few little things to make it even nicer, including seating and something David’s really excited about, a covered area for his grill.

Our built-in seating is going on the driveway side of the deck in the outer corner, and it starts with a simple two by four frame attached to the post. To that we’ve added angle braces going down to the deck surface to support the bench and angled braces going up to the handrail to support the backrest. And the back and the seat surfaces are being covered by the same 5/4 material we used on the rest of the deck for consistency. It’s also a good choice because the rounded edges mean less chance of splinters.

For the roof of David’s grilling area, we’re creating a decorative cut on the end of the rafters because they’ll end up being exposed. Now these will span from the house out to a beam, which is attached to the posts that support the deck. This simple design works perfectly for the metal roof we’re installing here.

As soon as the roof was completed, our carpenter started on the custom grilling station built entirely out of treated wood and plenty of storage down below to tuck things away. And to finish us off, we’ll be installing granite countertops and then putting in place the new grill that was delivered out on the job just a few days ago.

Now, it’s important any time you have a grill, whether it’s gas or charcoal, to make sure it has some type of shield to prevent any fire hazard. This one has a shield built in. So as soon as the countertops are in, that can go right in place.

Now, the seating that we built earlier in this corner just works perfect the way it just blends right into the handrails. And it’s just enough seating for a deck this size, because they’ll probably want a little patio table with an umbrella on this end of the deck.

Now, because the deck is so far up off the ground, we were able to grab a little storage area underneath. Not big enough to really stand in but perfect for what these homeowners plan on using it for—to store lawnmowers and a few rakes, shovels, and a wheelbarrow.

Now, to keep everything dry, you can see the tin sheets, the corrugated tin, that we have underneath that we’ve attached with screws. But in order for the water to run where it needs to run, we had to install some little strips, some little furring strips that go from about a quarter of an inch up to about an inch and a half.

Now, our next step is a few finishing touches around, including latticework that’ll provide a visual screen so that you can’t see what’s stored underneath. Wood lattice is available in a variety of styles. But the thing that’s important when you’re selecting this stuff is the thickness of the material itself. The thicker it is, the better it holds up. It’s also important that you support the panels on all sides, including the bottom. Otherwise, the panel may break if it gets hit or simply warped, because it’s unsupported.

Behind the lattice we’re attaching landscape fabric to further conceal the space beneath the deck. While this fabric blocks the view of this here area, it won’t stop the air flow, which is very important for the longevity of the deck itself.

While the finishing touches go into David’s cook station, take a look at this week’s Around the Yard.

Announcer: Let’s head outside for Around the Yard with lawn and garden expert Tricia Craven Worley brought to you by TimberTech composite decking.

Tricia Craven Worley: Reseeding is a seasonal task that many of us choose to do. Now, some of us live in climates that either because of the snow or possibly even drought, our lawns have died out and so we choose to reseed.

Now, I have Bermuda grass, and every year it goes dormant. It gets really yellow and not very attractive, so I always like to over seed with rye. And this is all well and good, but the problem is grass seed is so small that sometimes it’s really difficult to see where you’ve been. So I have a little tip, a solution for you.

Now what I do is, I take about a handful of fine sawdust, and I add it to about a cup of grass seed. This way when you go to spread it in your garden you’re going to leave a little trail, just kind of on the Hansel and Gretel method with the breadcrumbs.

Now, not only can you mark your way then, you can see where you’ve been. And also don’t forget for proper coverage you want to go in a 90-degree angle to make sure that you’ve covered everything.

One more tip, make sure your saw dust doesn’t have any additives in it, make sure it’s not from treated wood.

Danny Lipford: Now that this deck is complete, David and Dianne, the homeowners, can’t even remember what the backyard looked like before the deck got started. Now, it wasn’t necessarily that unattractive, the area behind the house, but not very useful for any kind of entertaining or for providing a place for the kids to play.

Hey we don’t have a problem with that anymore, a nice corner bench perfect for a little conversation group. David loves his cornered grilling area over here, and I understand he’s already getting a lot of use out of that, and how convenient right by the back door that leads into the kitchen. And he can grill rain or shine with the covered area.

Also a lot of storage space underneath he’ll be able to use for storage of lawnmowers and wheelbarrows. And when you’re building a deck, a nice open space like this is a necessity, especially with comfortable seating.

Now, the main thing the homeowners wanted to accomplish with this deck is to provide a nice smooth transition from the house to their old concrete patio, and with a little flagstone walkway, makes that very inviting.

Hey, for more ideas on any thing to do with your deck and adding some of those special little amenities that makes it your own, check out our website at todayshomeowner.com.

Hey, I hope I see you next week, see you then.



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