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Building a Deck

Building a deck may not seem too difficult, but you should understand the basics of deck construction and be familiar with a few building codes before you start designing and building your own deck.

This 10 x 10 deck tutorial is a seven step process that walks you through the design, framing, footing, decking, railing, stair, and stair railing phases of deck building.  It will provide you with the information you need to design and build a safe and long-lasting deck.  Click on Deck Design (below) to get started.

I recently completed the construction of my own cedar deck - check out this article that describes the building process, from design to completion.

How to Build a Deck
Building a Deck

 Building a Deck - Seven Phases


Deck Design - The first, and probably the most important, phase of deck building.  It covers some important things to consider before you begin designing the size, location and style of your deck...

Deck Framing - It is very important to frame your deck so that it is perfectly level and square.  It is equally important to design the structure so that it will carry the weight of the people, plants, furniture, etc...

Deck Footings - The sizes of deck footings can vary considerably due to the building codes and soil conditions in your area.

Decking - When laying decking, it is a good idea to start at the outer edge of the deck and work towards the house.  It is also a good idea to let your decking run long and cut it off later...

Building Stairs - If the top level of a deck is more than 10 inches above the ground, you will probably be building stairs for your deck.  This page provides everything that you need to build deck stairs.

Railing - Deck railing (like deck footings) are also governed by local building codes.  This section provides information on the railing height, spacing of pickets, and general deck railing construction.

Stair Railing - If you have more than two steps on your deck stairs, you would probably benefit from stair railing.  Not only is it practical and safe, stair railing can make an attractive entrance to your deck.

Building a deck can be very simple to relatively complex, depending on the size, shape and number of levels involved. A simple rectangular deck, where the surface is below 16 inches above the ground, would be an example of a simple inexpensive deck that you could probably build in a day or two. If you add height to it, where railing and stairs are required, you will need to research deck railing designs and stair building..



Deck building should start with the construction of the deck frame, not the foundation. First, you assemble the frame supported by temporary uprights.  This is done so that you can shift the frame, once you have assembled it, to make sure that it is square and level.  This is a very important step before you start decking, cutting, attaching the posts, and pouring concrete.  By the time you read through each of the tutorials, you will have a good idea of how to build a deck.

Get started now!  Go to build your own deck for details on how to build a 10 x 10 deck.


For deck design and structural information, check out the Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide, by the American Wood Council.


What next?

Leave building a deck and return to the myCarpentry home page
How to cut and build stairs