Tip 1: Decide Where to Build the Deck

Think about how you intend to use your outdoor living space and the features you want to include on your deck – seating and entertaining areas, cooking spaces, water features, etc. Determine exactly where the deck is going to be built. Use, location, design and materials are the most important things to think about. Should it be directly in the sun, or shade or should it be near the pool? What type of access should it have to the house and yard and how does it relate to your neighbors' house?

Tip 2: Choose your Material

When it comes to decks, the choices are far more varied than plain wood. There are a wide variety of both synthetic and natural materials. When it comes to the railing, there are just as many selections options from synthetic to wood to iron. The key is to select building materials that work well for your lifestyle, your style of your home, and your environment.

Tip 3: Get a Permit

A new deck in El Paso County requires a permit from the Regional Building Department. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money and an entire month of our limited summer building a beautiful deck, only to find out it must be ripped up because there was no building permit and your outdoor living space doesn’t meet the current building code for height, square footage, etc.

Tip 4: Dig Deep

It’s important to start your deck off right. The first thing to do is dig and build the pier footings. These are going to support the weight of the deck. Check the building codes to determine how deep you have to dig for the footing. This will depend on the frost line in your area.

Tip 5: Balance the Ledger Properly

When installing the ledger board, it's very important that it is level and flat. A ledger board is typically a 2x8 or 2x10 put up against the home. It has to be cut to the correct length. To try and move a ledger board once it's bolted on is an incredible waste of time and money.

Tip 6: Protection is Elementary

The sun does incredible damage to wood decks. Paint or stain are the most desirable finishes to put on deck to protect if from the harsh Colorado elements. It keeps the sunrays from breaking down the material. Always apply a clear coat of oil or water-based sealant.

Tip 7: Use a Triangle to Make a Square

Once the ledger boards are attached to the house, typically there will be a girder, which is going to run parallel to the ledger board. Make it square by using a 3-4-5 triangle. This is critical as it impacts the rest of the materials installation.

Tip 8: Right Side Up

The level of the deck floor is determined by the joists, but since boards aren't always perfectly straight, you could still end up with a wavy floor. If a board has a curve or cup to it, the raised side or outer curve is known as the crown. When installing the joists, make sure the crown side faces up. This way the board will tend to flatten out, rather than sag, over time.

Tip 9: Hidden Preference

There are fasteners for mounting deck boards so that screws aren't visible. The fasteners are easily used and come in a variety of styles. Certain woods can only be used with certain fasteners. Do a little research to find out the preferred style and make sure it fits with the materials being used.

Tip 10: Move on the Groove

Wood will expand and contract depending in our climate. When installing a wooden deck, make sure the boards have at least 1/8 inch between them so there is room for expansion. If not, the boards will start pressing against each other and the fasteners will snap.

Designing and building your own deck is a big investment of time and finances but one that is sure to pay in lifestyle and when you go to sell your home. Planning a livable and stylish outdoor living space will be hard work, but experts and homeowners agree the rewards are well worth the time and effort.
If the job seems overwhelming, consider hiring a professional. But, don’t trust your outdoor living area to just anyone. Make sure to select an experienced licensed general contractor. An experienced design build team will work hand-in-hand with you to insure that you new deck is functional, stylish, and a good financial investment. At Sikora Creations (in conjunction with Speas Interior Design to assist with the selection of your furniture and accessories), we’re experts at creating decks and outdoor living areas that will make you love entertaining your friends and family.