Hit the deck
WITH THE SUMMER SEASON right around the corner, we’re all getting ready to open our windows, step outside and soak up every last second of the warm-weather months. And what better way to make the most of the great outdoors than with a deck? But before putting shovel to soil, you’ll need to do some thorough planning to ensure you’ll build a deck that you and your family will love and use frequently.
Function. Most people use their deck for dining outside, so think about positioning your deck in a way that allows for an entrance into your home’s kitchen. To accommodate eating outdoors, many homeowners incorporate an octagon or bump-out space on their deck to separate the table and chairs into their own designated dining area. A screened-in area, such as a gazebo, would also work for this type of setting.
Layout. Take a walk around your yard — or construction site — and map out your potential deck using rope or a garden hose. Use 2-foot increments when deciding on the size of your deck since lumber is typically cut to 8-foot, 10-foot, 12-foot and 16-foot lengths. Picking a standard size deck that adheres to these measurements will save on scrap materials and, in turn, money.
Square footage. When thinking about the depth of your deck, consider how far your deck’s joists can span before you’ll need to add another beam. (This can be costly if you have to add another complete set of piers to hold up your deck.) Just short of 12 feet is the maximum span common for 2-by-8-inch joists under most conditions, but with an added cantilever, a 14foot deck can be built from one set of piers and beams.
Railing spacing. Typically, deck railings are required for any deck more than 30 inches above the ground, and for stairs with fve or more steps. The height of a deck railing often needs to be between 36 and 42 inches. The regulations for spacing between balusters usually calls for 4 to 6 inches, and the space between your deck foor and the bottom of the railing should be 2 to 4 inches.
Once your deck is complete, you’ll need to protect your investment. Stains like the new SuperDeck product from Sherwin-Williams (sherwin-williams. com) will coat your wood, repel water and protect your deck from mildew and algae.