Planning your little piece of heaven outdoors means bringing to life your visions of barbeques, get-togethers with friends and family, plus having outdoor space to relax in a comfy lounge chair. However, nothing shatters your hard-won vision like deck building mistakes.

Hang in there with us while we detail a few all-too-common deck building mistakes and how to avoid them. 

Then, call us at Dupont Decks for a free estimate. Our quality construction, experience, and customer service mean you can have the deck you’ve always wanted to enjoy.

Typical Deck-Building Mistakes

Building a deck is no run-of-the-mill weekend project. Careful planning and design comprise the foundation of a deck you can enjoy carefree for many seasons. 

Getting the help and expertise of a professional builder specializing in deck construction and repair can mean the difference between a safe deck you can count on and a disastrous collapse.

From using proper materials to failing to adhere to building codes, beware of the following construction errors in building your deck:

  • Choosing materials that don’t measure up
  • Failing to meet construction codes
  • Not ensuring stable footers
  • Improperly spacing your joists
  • Fastening your beams improperly to your support posts
  • Poor deck positioning or design

Read on for all the dos and don’ts in safe deck construction.

New deck patio with modern wooden deck installing wood floor for patio

Choose the right materials

Whether it’s your deck boards or hardware, consider your budget, maintenance commitment, and desired durability in your deck design. Choose the materials that fit your style as well as the way you’ll use your deck. Many people are leaning towards composite decks.

Higher-end exotic woods look amazing but can increase your deck budget considerably. Pressure-treated woods and PVC boards may cost less and require less maintenance in the long run. 

You’ll need to factor in the position of the deck (sun-facing, potential weather exposure) as you choose your materials. Selecting a deck board type that compliments your exterior and stands up to Mother Nature remains the most crucial decisions you’ll make in the deck-building process.

Don’t skimp on hardware, either. It’s essential to build with corrosion-resistant fasteners to ensure the safety and longevity of such a large home investment. Stainless steel, galvanized, and polymer-coated fasteners give you the most durable deck construction options.

Pull permits and meet all codes

You’ll need to read up on the home improvement permit requirements and building codes in your area to make sure you have a “law-abiding” and safe deck. Building codes exist for a reason: to keep you safe and to ensure you’re not wasting your money on faulty building practices. 

The money you spend NOW on permitting and inspections will pay off in the life and safety of your deck. Not to mention, your diligence today will keep you away from fines or penalties later as well! 

It’s smart to contact your local city hall well before the height of deck season to begin the permitting process. Getting a jump permitting can save you time and headaches when you’re ready to begin construction.

Start with proper footers

Part of your deck will attach to your house with boards and fasteners. No matter how high off the ground your deck is, you’ll need sound footers in the ground on which to place your support posts. 

Footers are concrete blocks sunk into the ground that hold the bottom of your support posts. Each footer must reach below the freeze depth into the ground to avoid destructive heaving in the winter months. 

Usually, the freeze line is a minimum of 12 inches below the grade, though if your soil has been disturbed in any way, the footer should extend at least 48 inches below grade. Further, be sure to build your footer up at least an inch above grade to ensure a dry contact point with your support posts.

man drilling and measuring wood for deck

Joist spacing for a variety of designs

In addition to support poles, joists provide the framework and support for your deck boards. Your deck boards attach directly to the joists, which means your boards absorb all the force on your deck from people, furniture, and activity.

Different deck boards require different joist spacing.Composite woods and PVC boards require tighter joist distancing because the boards have less inherent strength. 

Hardwoods can tolerate more impact with joists spaced further apart. Be sure to check manufacturer recommendations for joist distance on the deck board material of your choice.

Fasten your beams correctly

Some builders make the mistake of fastening the deck beams to the sides of the support posts. This method is unsafe and usually breaks building codes. Decks can collapse because of improperly attached girders with poor shear strength. 

Instead, fasten the horizontal beams to the support posts by notching out the top of the post so the beam can fit in the notch. You’ll further reinforce the attachment with galvanized washers, nuts, and bolts.

You may also choose to use a metal bracket on the top of the support posts to hold the girders. Your builder can help you decide which method is safest.

Position your deck carefully

Even the most beautiful decks can create inconveniences for homeowners. When you’re designing your outdoor space, be sure your deck is clear of all vents, outlets, and fire exits (like basement egress windows or other exit points.)

When your deck impedes access to exterior necessities like utility gauges, faucets, or storage areas, it’s a mistake you’ll regret for as long as you own your home. If you create impediments to the house with your deck design, you might even bring down your home value. 

Before setting your deck footers, carefully walk the exterior of your home to discover any exterior access points you may have overlooked in your initial planning.

Installing deck patio construction. boards with above ground deck

Call the Deck-building Experts at Dupont Decks

To avoid all the previous deck-building mistakes, schedule a free estimate with Dupont Decks. Our experienced, reliable construction team will build a beautiful, solid deck you can trust for years to come. 

We ensure a safe and relaxing deck your friends and family can enjoy with confidence. Call us today to schedule a quote, and add value and function to your home while you enjoy the outdoors in style.