How to Properly Install a Deck

deck installation

If you are building a deck, the first step is to secure a permit. Next, install the footings. These are concrete columns below grade that support the posts and deck. Ask your local building department at for footing requirements in your area.

Dig holes for the post anchor bolts, then use mason string lines and a level to center concrete tubing forms. Let the concrete cure before installing and connecting the post bases with post brackets.


Decks add a nice outdoor living space to any home, and they come in many different styles. Most are built with pressure-treated wood, which is economical and durable against rot and insects. But some are also made of composite materials that offer low-maintenance and natural good looks. Whatever you choose, the first step in a successful installation is laying out the layout. This means clearing the area around the deck and removing any obstructions that could interfere with the construction process. Before starting, you should check with local government to make sure that a permit will be needed for the project and that there are no restrictions or regulations that would inhibit its completion.

Once the permit and restrictions have been cleared, you can start to dig holes for the footings, which are the supports that will anchor the deck to the ground. Piers will transfer the load to the soil, while footings will spread it out more evenly. The contractor will need to determine the location and depth of each footing before digging.

Next, the contractor will install the ledger board and fasten it to the joists using hidden-flange joist hangers (Photo 12). The ledger must be notched around each post and mitered at the corners for a neat appearance. The 1×6 lower rail cap fits between the posts and is notched and mitered as well. Be careful not to over-tighten the screws or you will weaken the cap.

Begin laying the deck boards, starting at the end that is opposite the house. The deck board on this side must have a full-width overhang, and you can practice your trim cut here before installing the rest of the boards. A gap is required between the deck boards and joists to allow for expansion and contraction of the wood fibers. This gap is determined by the species of wood used, its initial moisture content and the dry and wet extremes that it must be able to withstand.

Be careful to place a gap on the long ends of the boards, too. Wood decking expands and contracts in a length-wise direction, so any gaps placed on the short end of a board will result in unsightly butt joints.


The posts provide the foundation for your deck’s frame, and they hold up the beams and joists that will create its structural integrity. It’s essential that your posts be properly installed to ensure that the deck will be safe and sturdy, so that you and your family can enjoy it for years to come.

A post is a vertical support in the frame of a building that acts as a column or pillar, and it may be made of wood or metal. It is also known as a stud or strut in wooden construction.

Generally, the posts of a freestanding deck are larger than those of an attached build. Depending on the size of the deck, you will need from two to six posts.

To begin your post installation, dig the footings for each post. The amount of concrete needed to build a footing depends on the size of your deck and the load that it will bear.

Once the footing is poured, it should be left to cure for at least 48 hours. You should not attempt to install a post in the footing until it is completely cured. Otherwise, the post could crack during installation.

Some contractors choose to use a pre-fabricated deck post anchor, which can be driven into the ground to support the posts. This is usually more convenient than digging a new footing, and it may be less expensive. However, it is important to check with your local building department to see if this method is allowed for your area.

When putting up the deck posts, it is important to make sure that they are correctly spaced. This is not only important for structural reasons, but it will help prevent the posts from becoming too close together. Once the posts are set, it’s a good idea to use a water level to determine their height and mark them. This will prevent you from making any mistakes when cutting the posts later.

Cut pressure-treated 2x stock for the deck’s front rim joists. Fasten a concealed-flange double joist hanger to the ends of each front rim joist’s inner 2xs. Using the mason’s line as a guide, fit and fasten each 2x to the deck post anchor.


A deck must have strong, properly installed beams to support the weight of the structure and everything that goes on it. A carrying beam is especially important, and it must be built, leveled and protected from moisture and rot. A joist must be fastened to this support, and it must bear the load of the decking, rails and balusters. A deck must also be braced in all directions to resist movement or swaying, and this may involve adding or removing joist hangers, adding blocks or tightening fasteners.

Footings are concrete columns below grade that support posts and, in turn, the deck. These are required on all residential decks and may be a requirement for commercial construction in some areas. The depth of these footings depends on soil conditions and local building codes.

The ledger is a horizontal plank on the outer perimeter of the deck that connects posts to the house and supports joists that support subflooring. The best material for a ledger is pressure-treated wood, which resists rotting better than untreated lumber. A professional must install the ledger, which is a critical part of the deck’s frame.

After installing the ledger, a builder cuts pressure-treated 2x stock for the deck’s front and side rim joists. To reduce the amount of cutting, builders may use a jigsaw with a straight blade and a guide to ensure consistent cuts.

Before setting the joists, builders should mark the support post locations. Typical spacing is 4 to 8 feet between posts, but check your local building codes. Then, using stakes or spray paint, the builder marks the positions of each post in relation to the other support posts. The marks are used to help the builder achieve a square and level layout.

When building a deck, the rim joists define its edges and include end joists and headers. Angle brackets fasten the end joists to the ledger, and a header ties the ends of the joists together. A shim is usually placed between the end of the joist and the edge of the ledger to prevent the deck from being too close to the house.


Before beginning any construction work, check with your local government to see if you require a permit or if there are any homeowners association rules that need to be followed. These rules can range from the color of your deck to whether it is built on a slope. You should also be aware that some cities have restrictions on the size and number of decks you can build.

Start by clearing the area where you will be working. This will include removing any rocks, trees, shrubs and other debris that could interfere with your project. It is also a good idea to call your local utility company to have them mark any underground pipes, wires and cables that might be in the area.

Set up batter boards and mason’s strings to locate the footing locations at your deck’s outside corners and at 8-foot intervals along the front rim joists. Dig holes large enough to hold your footing form, and make sure that they extend below the frost line.

Footings are the vertical supports that attach to and support your deck’s framing. They should be installed securely and accurately to ensure that your deck is stable and structurally sound.

Once your footings are in place, you can install the beams that will be used to support the deck framing. Beams can be either on-grade or above-grade, depending on your preference and the location of your deck. On-grade beams sit directly on top of the footings, while above-grade beams are placed on a raised platform and attached to the posts with metal brackets or hangers.

Before you install the decking, be sure that your deck is well-ventilated. You need a space of about four inches to ensure that air can flow underneath the decking, which will help prevent the absorption of too much water. This will keep the wood from swelling and can reduce the amount of maintenance needed to maintain your decking over time.

Once you have the proper ventilation, you can begin installing the decking. Begin by squaring up the first board parallel to your deck’s entryway. This will ensure that any small errors in the first board won’t be compounded by the next one.