Blog > How to build a deck : The First Steps

How to build a deck : The First Steps

How to build a deck : The First Steps
You plan to build your own deck. The success of this project will depend largely on applying proper methods during the first stages of construction. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Plotting a square angle

To begin, insert two pegs at the corners of your house to define the finished length of your deck. Then, repeat the same process, perpendicular this time, to get the width. For this article, and depending on your building requirements, we’ll follow the example of the standard "3-4-5" or "6-8-10" method, as illustrated.

Starting from point A, plot a 6' line parallel to the house and mark it point B. The second step is to tie an 8' rope at point A, and a 10' rope at point B. Next, connect these two ropes at point C to indicate the perpendicular corner. Once you’ve defined the layout of your four corners, you can visualize the dimensions and proceed to double-check your measurements making sure their positions correspond perfectly with what you want.

To ensure the accuracy of your perpendicular line, it’s preferable to have a second person help you carry out the task of measuring and line marking. Instead of using ropes, use two tape measures to check that your square is at a right angle.

Red line of 6’ from point A-B
Yellow line of 8’ from point A-C
Diagonal green line of 10' from point B-C

Determining the height of a pile

The finished height of your deck must be carefully considered as it relates to the thickness of your flooring. Keeping this in mind, you can calculate the height of your piles by subtracting the sum of the thickness of the materials resting above them; i.e., the flooring, the joists and the beams.

Example: First calculate the thickness of your materials: patio flooring (2x6) 1.5" thick, joists (2x8) 7.25" high, and beams (2x10) 9.25" high. The sum of these will give you a total thickness of 18 inches. Assuming that the floor surface rests 1 inch below the entrance door threshold; subtract 18" from this measurement to get the exact height of the piles. You’ll need to indicate this to the installer.

Before continuing any further, verify whether the abovementioned method and measurements are suitable for your project.

Preparing for pile installation

Prior to installation, verify that no power lines, pipes or other underground structures obstruct the location where you plan to drive the piles. Insert a stake, extending up to the calculated height, to mark the location of each pile. Use a laser level to project the desired height on to the house. Provide the installer with your plan, including the height of the piles, to convey a clear understanding of the result you’re looking for. They will adjust accordingly.

A FreE online app to assist you

Virtual Constructor is your best partner when it comes to DIY pile installation. We invite you to check out our video How to install screwed piles, it includes a detailed explanation of each and every step of the installation process. As you go along, the app calculates the building requirements for different types of piles, depending on your selection.

Use the Virtual Constructor online application to budget, estimate and calculate all the necessary building materials. You can evaluate the quantity of materials and order them online. Download the complete step by step guide to deck building.

In the next blog, we’ll discuss the how-to’s of beam installation.

It’s hammer time!!


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