Recently I spent some time at a job site with pro contractor Steve Wartman and his crew as they built a new deck using composite materials. Adding a deck to your home is an awesome home improvement project, and if it’s done right you’ll be able to enjoy that deck for many years to come. Here’s an overview of the work they did. If you’d like to see more, check out the full How to Build a Deck article available at that link.
Ethan Hagan is the primary editor at One Project Closer. He spends most of his days shadowing real contractors on actual job sites and most of his nights writing about the experience. To see what I mean, check out their latest “Pro-Follows” or finished, expert guides like this How to Build A Shed article. If learning and interacting with pro contractors sounds like something you’d enjoy, sign up for OPC email updates.
This deck is a freestanding structure (ledger board is not load bearing) with a double row of posts set 8′ apart. In Maryland, footers need to be at least 30″ deep X 9 posts = a lot of digging. After inspection, they poured about 8″ of concrete before setting their posts and backfilling with dirt.
Here’s a quick mockup of the deck. They used PT 4×4 posts and the ledger and support beams were 2×10′s. The joists were 2×8′s set 12″ oc because they’re using composite deck boards that require less span. They also “picture framed” the perimeter to conceal all the ugly, cut ends of the deck boards.
The guys staggered Red Heads to attach the ledger board, putting one in each bay. You can see they’ve already marked the joist locations.
Steve setup a string to make it easier to set the joists, working to keep everything square and consistent. They also made sure to introduce a 3/8″ slope to direct water away from the house.
A palm nailer made short work of fastening the hanger ties.
Here’s a shot of the progress after they had all the joists in place. Next, they added the band board, and got started on the stair stringers.
The crew poured a small concrete pad for the base of the stairs. Otherwise, the ground would have slowly eroded underneath.
Next, the guys started laying deck boards at a 45° and used 8d nails to act as spacers to account for expansion / contraction. They used composite decking fasteners, and each one needed to be pre-drilled. Yeah- it was slow going.
The stair stringers, band board and stair risers were trimmed out in white PVC that provided a nice color contrast.
Steve’s crew installed a white, vinyl rail system that included 4×4 sleeves, post caps, base trim and plugs for screw holes. The rails went up fast and they feel (mostly) solid.
Here are some shots showing the finished product.
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