How To Build An Elevated Deck

How To Build An Elevated Deck

How to build the joist sub-frame The sub-frame forms the deck’s outer skeleton. Joists run in the opposite direction to the deck boards, so it’s important to have settled on a decking design. For more on the different deck board arrangements, head back to our planning article.Read How to plan your deckingAnd don’t worry if there are any existing features (such as trees or posts) that you can’t, or don’t want to remove – just work around them. Include a bit more sub-structure to frame the obstacle and support the deck boards, block off the area around it by positioning joist off-cuts between the inner joists (secured either end with two coach screws) and cut and fix the deck boards to fit around it.If it is a tree, leave enough space for its trunk to thicken and for it to sway in the wind. And be sure to swot up on what species it is, as some can be very fast growing. Step 1 Cut the outer joists of the sub-frame to length, remembering to allow for overlapping corner joints. Coat the cut ends with an end grain preserver using a brush. Attach the sub-frame joists to the wall joist with metal joist hangers and 50mm galvanised nails. To avoid splitting, pre-drill the holes for the galvanised nails.If you’re not fixing to a wall, fix the joists to all the corner posts as per the following steps. Step 2 Fix the side joists to the off-set corner posts, first checking that they are level. They need to protrude by the width of a deck post to allow for a balustrade (or railing posts) to be fixed into place within the frame.Drill holes through the joist into the post and countersink the heads using a flat wood drill bit to create the recess to house the screw heads. Attach with two coach screws using a socket set with ratchet handle. Recess and drive in two more coach screws at the corner to join the outer joists together (as shown). Step 3 Continue round the deck fixing the joists to each post with two countersunk coach screws. Step 4 To give extra strength to the sub-frame, screw two support beams onto every second post along the length of the deck. Position them immediately beneath the joists of the sub-frame. Step 5 Cut the inner joists to length and attach to the joist sub-frame with two countersunk coach screws at either end, or to the wall joist using joist hangers. If you plan to lay timber deck boards in a horizontal pattern, the distance between the centre of one joist and the centre of the next should be a maximum of 450mm; for diagonally laid timber boards, the centres should measure 300mm. Top tip: Bowed joists If you find that any of your joists bow slightly, fix them with the bow projecting upwards. Even if you don’t notice an obvious bowing, check the joists are level with the sub-frame using a straightedge and if necessary plane any excess to ensure the deck boards will lie flat.
how to build an elevated deck 1

How To Build An Elevated Deck

The sub-frame forms the deck’s outer skeleton. Joists run in the opposite direction to the deck boards, so it’s important to have settled on a decking design. For more on the different deck board arrangements, head back to our planning article.Read How to plan your deckingAnd don’t worry if there are any existing features (such as trees or posts) that you can’t, or don’t want to remove – just work around them. Include a bit more sub-structure to frame the obstacle and support the deck boards, block off the area around it by positioning joist off-cuts between the inner joists (secured either end with two coach screws) and cut and fix the deck boards to fit around it.If it is a tree, leave enough space for its trunk to thicken and for it to sway in the wind. And be sure to swot up on what species it is, as some can be very fast growing. Step 1 Cut the outer joists of the sub-frame to length, remembering to allow for overlapping corner joints. Coat the cut ends with an end grain preserver using a brush. Attach the sub-frame joists to the wall joist with metal joist hangers and 50mm galvanised nails. To avoid splitting, pre-drill the holes for the galvanised nails.If you’re not fixing to a wall, fix the joists to all the corner posts as per the following steps. Step 2 Fix the side joists to the off-set corner posts, first checking that they are level. They need to protrude by the width of a deck post to allow for a balustrade (or railing posts) to be fixed into place within the frame.Drill holes through the joist into the post and countersink the heads using a flat wood drill bit to create the recess to house the screw heads. Attach with two coach screws using a socket set with ratchet handle. Recess and drive in two more coach screws at the corner to join the outer joists together (as shown). Step 3 Continue round the deck fixing the joists to each post with two countersunk coach screws. Step 4 To give extra strength to the sub-frame, screw two support beams onto every second post along the length of the deck. Position them immediately beneath the joists of the sub-frame. Step 5 Cut the inner joists to length and attach to the joist sub-frame with two countersunk coach screws at either end, or to the wall joist using joist hangers. If you plan to lay timber deck boards in a horizontal pattern, the distance between the centre of one joist and the centre of the next should be a maximum of 450mm; for diagonally laid timber boards, the centres should measure 300mm. Top tip: Bowed joists If you find that any of your joists bow slightly, fix them with the bow projecting upwards. Even if you don’t notice an obvious bowing, check the joists are level with the sub-frame using a straightedge and if necessary plane any excess to ensure the deck boards will lie flat.
how to build an elevated deck 2

How To Build An Elevated Deck

Zoom: Step 3 Slot the cut deck board into position. If necessary, plane or saw down its outer length to ensure that the inner edge is flush with the inside edge of the deck post. This will give you a straight edge from which to lay the rest of your deck boards. To lay the rest of your deck head to our ‘How to build a basic, ground-level deck’ article. The section titled ‘How to lay timber deck boards’ provides step-by-step help for timber boards. Whereas for composite boards, read the section ‘How to fit composite deck boards’.Read How to build a basic, ground-level deck
how to build an elevated deck 3

How To Build An Elevated Deck

Slot the cut deck board into position. If necessary, plane or saw down its outer length to ensure that the inner edge is flush with the inside edge of the deck post. This will give you a straight edge from which to lay the rest of your deck boards. To lay the rest of your deck head to our ‘How to build a basic, ground-level deck’ article. The section titled ‘How to lay timber deck boards’ provides step-by-step help for timber boards. Whereas for composite boards, read the section ‘How to fit composite deck boards’.Read How to build a basic, ground-level deck
how to build an elevated deck 4

How To Build An Elevated Deck

Stairs are an integral part of an elevated-deck design. If stairs will be connecting the upper and lower levels, I like to place them outside and at the ends of the deck to conserve floor space. I find that constructing the stairs perpendicular to the deck out to a landing and then back to the lower deck often works best. To minimize the length of the stair, I try to land it near the house, where the ground should be at its highest grade. If there is no lower deck, you may need to work a series of landings into the design for the stairs to reach the ground (Figure 2).
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How To Build An Elevated Deck

When the railings are in place, you’re ready to lay your deck boards. Remember that they need to run in the opposite direction to the joists. For help on cutting deck boards, head to the ‘How to cut deck boards’ section of our article ‘How to build a basic, ground-level deck’.Read How to build a basic, ground-level deck
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How To Build An Elevated Deck

The importance of consulting both a geotechnical and a structural engineer before beginning an elevated deck is worth repeating. The structural engineer details the plans, but the geotechnical engineer comes on site. Even though the local building inspector checks the footing holes, I ask the geotechnical engineer to determine the soil’s bearing capability. With an elevated deck, the last thing you want to deal with is a settling footing. It’s much better to spend the time and money up front to cover yourself.
how to build an elevated deck 7

How To Build An Elevated Deck

It’s likely that typical-size footings won’t be adequate for a single elevated deck — and it’s certain that they won’t support a stacked deck. To handle the increased loads, the footings need to be wider and deeper than usual, and reinforced with additional rebar. (For more on footing design, see the January/February 2007 issue of Professional Deck Builder.)

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