How to Build a Tree-Encompassing Deck
Bring nature into your outdoor entertaining area with a deck built around existing trees.
- measuring tape
- spool of nylon string
- speed square
- rubber mallet
- hand saw
- chop saw
- line level
- post digger
- L bracket
- safety goggles
- 1/8" drill bit
- wood stakes
- floor joists
- joist hangers
- 2x6x16 pressure-treated boards
- 4x4x8 pressure-treated boards
- 3" outdoor wood screws
- 1 5/8" outdoor wood screws
- 2 1/2" deck screws
- 50-lb. bags of fast-dry cement
- 5 gallon bucket or a cement mixing tub
- 5 1/4" decking boards
- 1 gallon of deck stain
- damp cloth or towel
- paint roller handle
- roller sleeve
- extender pole
Choose a level area of the yard where trees provide plenty of shade. Use measuring tape to get dimensions of the area where the deck will sit. Once the proper location is determined, use wood stakes to mark where each corner of the deck will be. Stick the stakes in by hand for soft ground, and use a hammer or rubber mallet for harder ground.
Create an outline for the length, width and shape of the deck by unfurling nylon string from the spool and wrapping it around each post until a solid outline is created.
Determine Ground's Highest Point
Find the highest point of the ground where the deck will sit. This will determine the overall top surface height for the deck.
Refer to the string outline, and use a post digger to dig holes approximately 8 feet apart around the perimeter of the deck. For the center support posts, dig postholes 5 1/2 feet apart. All holes should be 2 feet deep.
Measure, Cut and Place Posts
Use measuring tape and a pencil to mark 4 feet on a 4x4 post (Image 1). Cut each post to size using a chop saw (Image 2). Place the boards in the holes (Image 3).
Configure Outside Frame
Place 2x6 pressure-treated boards along each side of the deck outline. Pre-drill holes for securing boards to 4x4 posts using a drill and a 1/8-inch wood drill bit.
Assemble Deck Frame
Use a drill and 3-inch outdoor wood screws to attach 2x6 pressure-treated boards to 4x4 posts.
Add Center Supports
Use two 2x6 pieces of pressure-treated wood for the center supports, sandwiching them around the center 4x4 posts. Pre-drill holes using a 1/8-inch drill bit, and fasten directly with 3-inch outdoor wood screws.
Once the frame is level and assembled, use a shovel to mix cement in a 5-gallon bucket or cement mixing tub, and shovel cement into each hole (Images 1 and 2). Tip: You'll need approximately two 50-pound bags of cement for each posthole.
Level Tops of Posts
Using a hand saw, cut off any excess from each 4x4 post so each one sits flush with the top of the deck frame.
Measure for Floor Joists
Starting from the corner posts, measure and mark every 18-inch increment of space around the frame to properly place the floor joists.
Attach Joist Hangers
Use a chop saw or hand saw to cut a small piece of 2x6 to use as a guide for the joist hangers (Image 1). Use a drill and 1 5/8-inch outdoor wood screws to attach each joist hanger to the deck frame (Image 2). Tip: It's okay if some joists vary in distance due to tree placement. Overall, the distance between each can be less than 18 inches, but should never be more than that due to weight distribution needs.
Measure for Trees
Measure the circumference of each tree at the point where the tree will meet the surface of the deck (Image 1). Using these measurements as a guide, cut pieces of 2x6 pressure-treated wood with a chop saw to frame each tree protrusion (Image 2).
Attach Wood Frame
Attach the wood frame using outdoor wood screws and a drill, leaving approximately 2-4 inches for growth of the tree. Use a speed square to ensure a square fit.
Lay Decking Boards
Use 5 1/4-inch decking boards and 2 1/2-inch decking screws to lay decking surface. Use an L bracket to space boards evenly. Note: Depending on the length of the deck, boards may or may not need to be cut to size. Decking boards are available in precut sizes ranging from 8 to 16 feet. For decks requiring cutting boards to size, install in a staggered manner to cut down on waste and to create a uniform look.
Mark for Tree Cuts
When decking boards approach each tree, use a jigsaw to cut them to the shape of the tree (Images 1 and 2). Secure and attach the boards with a drill and 2 1/2-inch decking screws (Image 3).
Clean and Stain Deck
Sweep and lightly wipe boards with a damp cloth or towel. Apply deck stain evenly with a roller handle, roller sleeve and extender pole. Allow approximately 1 hour between each coat for proper drying.
Add Finishing Touches
Add furniture to the deck once the stain is dry.