New 9 ft by 12 ft deck constructed out of pressure treated lumber.   (click to enlarge) Top of Deck.jpg (201290 bytes)
New 2" x 6" handrail with 2" x 2" ballisters;  4" x 4" corner posts; custom steps.   (Click to enlarge) Deck Steps.jpg (220903 bytes)

    The very first step of any deck project is to determine deck design, and deck materials.  Deck design is drawn on paper, and then transferred to the ground with string and "batter boards".  Such a deck layout allows you to align the frame, and establish the locations of all foundation piers.  Once the outline is established, the frame requirements can be determined.  

    If Douglas fir, Southern Pine, Western Hemlock, or similar strength rated materials are used, you can use a wider span.  Span is the distance between framing members. Posts and footings can be wider (up to six (6) feet), deck joists can be spaced wider, then if you use a softer material such as Western Cedar.  The load the deck must carry, the load bearing capacity of the soil under the deck, and the framing material, all determine the span, and the thickness of the framing members.  As an example, 2" x 12" deck joist on 16" centers will support more than twice the span, and more than three times the weight of a 2" x 6" deck joist on 16" centers.  Consult local building codes before finalizing the design of the deck.

    Once the pier and footing locations have been determined, the next step is determining interference with gas lines, underground power lines, building foundations, cable lines, and other utilities.  All utilities will mark their under ground lines for free if you notify them before you dig; but if you do not notify them, they will not hesitate to fine you, or bill you for damages after you dig.  It is always cheaper to notify everyone before you dig.

    Local building codes will determine the size and depth of the footings, and the spacing.  Piers should extend down below the frost line, and above the level of the soil.  Extending the piers 2 to 5 inches above grade, combined with metal post bases, will help prevent post rot and deterioration.  

    When the design is finalized, and the frame and finish material have been considered, a realistic estimate of cost to construct the deck can be put together on paper.  A list of materials can be assembled; a cost estimate for material can be priced, and labor, based on design can be computed.  The total of labor, material, and permit fees will give you an approximate cost to build the deck.

    Unfortunately, the cost to build a deck, is not the same as the cost of ownership.  All decks constructed from pressure treated lumber, redwood, or fir, have to be oiled or stained each year, to keep the deck looking like new.  It is a good idea to determine the cost to power wash, renail,  and restain each year, and consider that cost as part of your cost of ownership.  

    Don't like maintenance?  There is a new solution.  There are several composite materials on the market now.  These products are usually a combination of wood and plastic; They do not rot, warp, twist, or discolor.  Composites can not replace the framing, but they do replace the decking.  The color is all the way through, similar to plastic lawn furniture.  They will look just like new for years.  The initial cost of composite is slightly higher, but the reduction in maintenance costs more than off set the initial cost. 

    There is one last cost to owning a deck;  the value it adds to the resale of the home.  Typically, the increase in resale will cover more than half of the cost of the deck, and depending upon location of your home, could cover the entire cost.  An appraisal by a professional realtor would determine the increase in resale value.  If you have any questions, see the 'associated web sites' page.

  If you have any questions, call me (Larry)  at 303 949 7630 or email me at   I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.