How to Build an Attached Deck

Plan and construct an attached deck with these step-by-step instructions.
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Elevate your outdoor-living experience with this raised-deck project. Just be sure to check your local building codes before you start, and call your local utilities before you do any digging (to avoid any underground lines).

Materials and Tools:

pressure-treated lumber
tape measure
sixteenpenny galvanized nails
hammer drill with mortar bit
bolts, nuts and washers
circular saw
chalk line
concrete (and wheelbarrow for mixing)
post anchors
socket wrench
joist hangers


1. Measure for the height of the ledger board. Use a scrap piece of decking to make marks about ¾-inch below the siding. Pop a chalk line between the marks. This will serve as the guide for the top of the board.

2. Temporarily tack the ledger board with sixteenpenny nails. Pre-drill 1¼-inch bolt holes into the ledger board and through the house framing. From underneath the house, drive in galvanized carriage bolts, and secure them on the outside with washers and nuts. Ensure that the ledger board is attached firmly-the majority of the deck framing will be anchored here.

3. Attach a 2-by-8-inch ledger board perpendicular to the house. Check for level, and then temporarily secure it with a 2-by-4-inch post set on the ground. Use a second 2-by-4 on the opposite side. Cut two 2-by-8-inch boards to span the length of the deck and attach them to the first 2-by-8.

4. To check the level and ensure that the deck frame is square, measure from one corner to the opposite corner. Then measure from the other corners to see that the measurements are the same. Tweak as you need to ensure that the frame is square.

5. To set the posts above the grade, use shovels to dig footings strategically around the deck frame. Holes should be 16 inches by 16 inches and 8 inches deep. Mix the concrete according to package directions, pour the concrete in the holes and fill to the top. Work with a hoe to remove any air bubbles.

6. Once the concrete has cured, start at a corner post and temporarily set the corner post on top of an anchor that's been positioned on the concrete. Mark around the anchor with a pencil, and then remove the post. Mark the location for a bolt.

7. Using the drill and mortar bit, drill a hole into the concrete footing. Attach a bolt to the footing, secure a post anchor and bolt it into place with a socket wrench.

8. Place the post into the anchor and nail it through the anchor. You'll be cutting notches in each post so that it rests against the frame and the two wood pieces are flush against each other.

9. The joists should be hung 16 inches on center, at least. If you're considering a weighty object such as a hot tub, the joists should be hung 12 inches on center. In this project, 12 inches is the mark.

10. Use a tape measure and pencil to mark every 12 inches on the outer rim. Nail the joists from the outside in, using sixteenpenny nails at each mark. Attach joist hangers for extra support and stability. With one side of the joists attached, install a second center beam and continue to install the joists and joist hangers until all are secure.

11. Attach decking boards with galvanized screws, butting them tight against each other. To ensure that the boards are snug, you can blind-nail a decking board against the joist by hammering the nail in at a downward 45-degree angle.

12. When all decking boards are in place, pop a chalk line and use a circular saw to cut off the excess board and obtain a straight edge. Add an outer band of wood trim along the entire perimeter, using a drill and sixteenpenny nails and screws.

13. For a staircase, add stringers to a ground-level concrete pad and attach both of them to the trim with screws. After the risers and treads are cut to length, attach the risers with galvanized screws. Attach the treads the same way, using two 5¼-inch decking boards for each tread. Treads are attached flush, or you can overhang them slightly past the riser. As an addition, a third stringer can be planned to add support to the steps.

14. To add the railing, mark the location of the balusters on the handrail, and then attach the balusters to the handrail with 2½-inch screws. Pop a chalk line across the balusters, and pre-drill holes in each where they will be attached to the deck trim. Add each railing section with 2½-inch screws, two screws for each baluster against the trim. Repeat this process around the entire perimeter.

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