With these 5 tips for deck building, you’ll have a solid understanding of what you need to do, and what you don’t. Our tips will help you build faster and more accurately. These are the deck building techniques of the pros, and the ones we employ on a daily basis. In this list, we’ll cover joist hanging, accurate notching, spacing balusters, straightening bowed deck boards, and trimming your deck boards for a perfect edge.
Tip #1 – Make joist hanging simple.
When you’re working alone, attaching your joist hangers to the ledger board is the easiest method to start. But you’ve got to make sure to set them at the correct height. By making a basic jig, you’ll be ready to go. Make sure your 2×4 is the average width of the joists, because of swelling and age your joists could vary by as much as ¼ inch. Nail the jig to the ledger board on the top edge, and use the 2×4 as a guide for the placement of your joist hangers. Leave about a 1/16” gap on one side, just in case you have a wet joist.
Deck Building Tip #2 – Notch accurately.
The best way to be the most accurate when fitting a board around a post is to capture the post dimensions directly onto your board. Start by tightly pressing the deck board against the post. Using our favorite tool, the combination square, note the post location on the board. Then measure the depth of the notch, and mark it on the board as well. Measure both sides of the post, because there can be a slight twist or swelling in the post that gives unequal measurements. Use a jigsaw when notching your board.
Tip #3 – The professional way to space balusters.
Use a jig! Just like in our first tip, a jig is the trick! They make everything go more quickly and simply. Keep your jig simple, it will help constructing rail sections. You want to keep the space between the rails 4 inches or less, for safety reasons. And another pro-tip is to start attaching balusters in the center of your rail, that way any leftover space will be on the ends, and they will be equal. Nothing looks worse than an inconsistent rail space. Before you begin though, take the measurement of the whole length. Then, either place a baluster at the exact center or center the space between balusters at the exact center. You want to do whichever will give the remaining space at the ends the closest gap to your rail spacing.
Deck Building Tip #4 – Fix that bowed deck board.
Having bowed deck boards is just a part of life. You can check and recheck your boards all you like but having much of your stock have a slight bow is inevitable. So, with this tip you can make sure to help all of your construction projects and keep straight boards. Set the board at one end as clean and flush as you can and nail it into place. As you work your way down the deck, pull the board straight, and nail it in. One little bit at a time. That’s it. That’s the trick.
Tip #5 – Keep your deck edge clean.
The trick to a clean and even deck edge is using a guide board. Having that guide will be cleaner than following a drawn line free-hand. When you set your guideboard in place, make sure that it is straight and isn’t bowing. Since we aren’t nailing it in place, you want to ensure a straight board. Mark your entire cut anyhow, because you will need to cut that last board or two freehand when the guide runs out. Just get your cut running, and take it through in a clean, straight, steady motion.