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Deck Building Tips from the Experts for First-Time Builders

When it comes to any deck building project, knowledge is power. It can save hassle, time, and money. This is why the team at Deck Expressions believes in educating and empowering our customers as part of our dedication to providing the best customer service.

We’ve asked some of our favorite leading experts in the field for deck building tips. See what one piece of advice they’d give to someone building a deck for the first time.

Make It Large Enough

  • “Do not make your deck too small, 12′ x 18′ is minimum.”—Tara Dillard, landscape blogger
  • “Build it larger than you think you need.”—David Betz, BETZ Homes

Your deck needs to fit people and furniture comfortably. Making it a little larger than originally planned will make everybody more at ease and you’ll get more use out of it. Plus, going with a larger deck can be more frugal, as bigger decks tend to be less expensive per square foot.

Plan Ahead

  • “Have a scale drawing done of the proposed deck and include any furniture, grill, plants etc. you plan to put on the new deck. Planning on paper is much less expensive than building. A good plan is key to getting the end result you now have in your imagination.”—Steve Godwin, Godwin Inc.
  • “Most people regret going small when they see that a table with chairs and grill take up most or all of the deck. If you are going to go to the expense of creating an outdoor living area make sure you have enough room to enjoy it.”—Tom Raymer, Raymer & Son Exteriors

Similarly, many professional builders know that drawing and mapping a deck ahead of time can guarantee that you get the right sized deck. This planning ensures that you, your family, and your guests will use the space. It also can prevent unexpected, expensive changes that can happen during the build itself.

Obtain the Proper Building Permits

  • “Make sure that they get a building permit.” John Gauntlett, Gauntlett Construction
  • “Verify if a building permit is needed. It varies from city to city. Most often, a permit is required for hillside decks, unfavorable soils conditions, or a deck being of a certain height.”—Michael Kavin, Kavin Construction
  • “There are so many laws in townships with the ways decks need to be built, from the way the load of the deck is supported to the size of the railing spacing and the way the posts are attached. Hurricanes brackets are required everywhere today.”—Andrew Gardner, Gardner Landscapes

You will most likely need a permit when building your deck. Check all local and statewide regulations before building. What’s the risk if you don’t? “If you bid without a permit and are caught, you may have to start over,” adds Michael Kavin. For help with finding the right permits, read on to our next deck building tips.

Hire a Professional

  • “Have the right team or crew.”—Anytime Assembly Pros
  • “Hire a professional. Years ago homeowners would build their own deck. Today almost no one builds their own deck. It's too much work, too much time, and most people lack the knowledge.”—Andrew Gardner, Gardner Landscapes
  • “Making sure you have experienced labor and that hazard and fire codes are met properly.”—Mikayel Aslanyan, All Furniture Services

Reputable and experienced contractors know the local laws and will be more than happy to help you out. Working with a professional is not just helpful for meeting regulations; it can save your life. Andrew Gardner tossed in this fact: “Did you know that 76% of the decks built in the USA are not correctly built? That is why there are so many decks that collapse every year.”

Choose Better Materials that Reduce Maintenance Costs

  • “Think about the future. It's always tempting to look at the cheapest alternatives when doing home additions and renovations, but with deck work there can be a considerable amount of annual maintenance involved depending on the materials chosen.”—Samantha Joy, Cornerstone Landscape & Construction Group
  • “Don't cheat yourself by installing an inferior product. The cost is long forgotten if you are happy with the products. Not so if the product you settled on fails in a short time.”—Jacob Ensminger, Ensminger Builder

These experts know that a deck is an investment that will require some maintenance over time. They want you to be happy with all aspects of your deck, from cost to end result. Most professionals will have ideas for how to save money, but you should heed their deck building tips on where to not cut corners. These products were especially recommended:

  • “Choose the best deck screws.”—Anytime Assembly Pros
  • For the deck itself, “go with a composite type product; these products cost more initially, but have a much longer lifespan than real wood or vinyl and require very little maintenance.”—Samantha Joy, Cornerstone Landscape & Construction Group

Wood and other cheaper products for decks require a lot of maintenance in the form of power washing, sanding, staining, and repainting. Little details like deck screws prevent large repairs later down the line.