Building a deck can be a fun and rewarding experience for a homeowner. Whether the deck is a residential or commercial property, the purpose can vary greatly. But the end result is typically the same – a place for enjoyment.
While it’s easy enough to just toss a couple of posts in the ground and call it a day, nothing can capture the character and true nature of wood like a well-built deck. A deck can be simple or ornate; elaborate or minimalist; functional or a place to relax.
One of the first things a homeowner should know before he begins to construct his deck is safety. Frost line is especially important, as sudden changes in temperature can cause large cracks in exterior wood materials. Even small amounts of water vapor can expand from freezing rain, causing pools of moisture behind the posts of a finished deck.
Frost line is the edge of the deck, beyond which moisture will slowly evaporate and refreeze into the atmosphere. While a frost line of two or three inches is safe, anything greater than that should be treated with caution. When considering deck construction, homeowners should always consider the type of deck they will have.
Many decks are built with a deck box consisting of a steel framework supported by posts embedded in the wood. Some deck box styles are built using low-pressure-treated wood (usually redwood) with plywood or composite underlayment below the surface.
In either case, when it comes time to select deck lumber, the homeowner should seek deck systems constructed using pressure-treated wood, rather than natural wood.
While it’s true that the biggest threat to deck surfaces comes not from falling snow, but rather from frost heave. As temperatures start to rise, air can begin to escape from between the gaps of the roof and the flashing of the decking.
This cold air, coupled with precipitation, can slowly expand into a full attic full of moisture if not controlled. Installing adequate flashings will help to prevent the expansion of moisture so that it doesn’t collect in the attic and cause structural damage. To learn more about important pointers, please hover over to Simple Deck Plans provided by dupontdecks.com.
In the winter months, when there is the greatest threat of frost heave, it is important to seal decks against this threat. The best option for frost heave prevention in deck construction is to use polyethylene lumber instead of the more expensive pressure-treated deck lumber.
Pressure-treated deck lumber is generally covered with an aqueous coating which is supposed to resist decay, however, in many cases, it is found that this coating deteriorates at an alarming rate. For this reason, pressure-treated lumber is often found in its pressurized form, which has a much lower level of chemical resistance.
It is also more difficult to work, which means that it may take more time to finish a project with it. For this reason, homeowners should always avoid using pressure-treated lumber when constructing a deck directly over existing concrete.
Another factor that homeowners should consider before deciding on the deck design is to know exactly what sort of climate conditions they will have in the area where they are building the deck. For example, a tropical climate will mean that drainage requirements will need to be more carefully planned.
A good rule of thumb is to assume that ten percent of the deck surface area will have to be excavated for drainage and that the deck design will have to be adjusted for this. If drainage is not built correctly, it can create damp areas that can encourage the growth of mold and rot.
On the subject of drainage, one thing that many people do not realize is that wood decks require drainage holes of one sort or another. This is because water collects at the edge of the decking material, which leads to damp spots that will quickly develop into rot and mold if left unchecked.
Therefore, it is advisable to carefully plan out the location of the drain hole in the ground. Pre-drilled drain holes are available from hardware stores, and pre-made wooden decking boards with these holes already drilled are very inexpensive.
Cedar and redwood are two of the most desirable woods for this purpose, but cedar has a distinct waxy element that can affect the durability of the finished deck. One of the final considerations for building a deck involves the choice of lumber. It is advisable to buy enough footings and ledger boards to complete the deck.
Buy enough of both to completely surround the floor joist. The footings, which are the vertical support posts of the decking, should be long enough so that they can withstand years of wear and tear, and the ledger boards should be thick enough to make them highly effective insulation.
By making sure that you get enough lumber for the total deck project, you will be greatly reducing the risk of having to rebuild the whole thing due to an inadequate or incorrect supply of materials.