Building a deck is the ultimate backyard DIY project. It takes some work, but this series of articles and videos shows you step-by-step instructions for each phase. The first step is to create a plan.
See the complete deck project from design to finishing touches at Lowes.com/BuildaDeck.
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Once you have a basic layout, bring it to Lowe's to have an associate put together professional deck plans and a materials list.
Pressure-treated lumber (top right) is the standard material to withstand weather. Most pressure-treated lumber is wet when delivered directly from the store, so you’ll need to let it dry before staining — typically for six months. As an alternative, consider upgrading the decking and railings with composite materials (bottom right). See our Deck Planning and Materials Buying Guide to get details on different options. This series of articles and videos shows you how to build a deck with each material.
The basic deck construction for this project consists of:
For larger decks, you can install parting boards — also called pattern boards — in the middle of the decking. These decking boards run perpendicular to the rest of the decking, creating an eye-catching design. They also allow you to use shorter deck boards and can eliminate the need to butt boards together to span the width of the deck.
You can eliminate some of the necessary posts by attaching a ledger board to your house, but it can cause problems later if not done right. It's a job usually best left for the pros. Our deck is freestanding, so it won't be attached to the house. A freestanding deck should be no more than one inch away from the house.
When you have a solid plan, you can mark the layout with strings and batter boards made from 2-foot furring strips and screws. See Making and Using Batter Boards assembly instructions.
Place the batter boards beyond the corners of your planned area. Tie strings to them marking the outer edges of your deck. Next to the house, drive stakes as close to the house as possible and tie strings to them.
Check that the strings are close to level. The layout is square when the diagonal measurements of the area are equal.
Adjust the strings as needed. Mark them in their final positions so you can take them off and put them back in the correct place.
Before marking for the posts, remove the sod if required by code. A sod cutter can make this job easier.
The post layout depends on the size of the beams, local building codes and your deck design. Measuring from the house, locate the post lines with additional batter boards and strings. Mark the post positions on the strings.
Mark the post hole locations on the ground with paint.
After you've laid out the posts, mark the height of the deck and posts on the house. The deck should be below the door threshold to keep water out of the house. Measure down the thickness of the decking plus the width of the joists and support beams. This notes the top of the posts. Mark a level line at this height along the house. Mark the width of the deck on the house as well to help you position the frame later.
Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for fasteners and structural hardware.
Read more about pressure-treated lumber and wood preservatives on the EPA website: