This deck design was custom tailored to this backyard. We wanted the deck to be very sturdy (some would say this is over-built) In my opinion, it is the best way to build a deck. The strength is unmatched and it truly feels like you are standing on a concrete floor. Solid and strong.
Pro tip: When installing these posts, allow an hour to pass prior to any handling of the posts. Do Not Touch them. Set your level on the posts and leave them alone. Once an hour has passed, take some of your longboards and screw them to the bases of the posts. This ensures the posts will not shift as the concrete cures around them. Be careful when navigating around them, they make an excellent trip board so watch your step.
The longboards you see in this photo are only placed to hold the posts in place while the concrete is curing. These will be removed later in the build.
Pro Tip: Make sure the holes of your posts are at least 3′ into the ground. This ensures a good grip and attachment of the concrete.
In this phase, we added the big 2″x8″x8′ header boards. These boards will act as the roof structural framing and provide an even look when the baseboards go on. We initially set these boards with screws to make everything clean, level and aligned. We went back and added galvanized thru-bolts. The tops of the posts will eventually be trimmed flush with the header boards.
Pro tip: Use washers and lock-washers on both sides of the thru-bolts. These bolts are very expensive but make the difference in your project. The bolts are made by Hillman and can be found in any big-box store.
With the header boards installed. We added 2″x4″x8′ joists set at 24″ on center to allow for the lattice roof. We used simpson joist hangers to establish a connection.
Pro Tip: Only use lattice if you want an open-air deck. We chose to completely roof the deck after this version was built. We like the roofed version a lot better but this all comes down to personal taste. Both versions are awesome.
We installed 2″x6″x8′ floor joists. These were all pressure-treated for ground contact. I had to get creative with the framing as we did not want to remove the existing concrete slab that served as a door landing.
On each of the long 16′ boards that run from one side to the other (perpendicular to the joists), I added two 6″x6″x2′ posts per run, and concreted them into the ground. These serve as additional center support so the deck has absolutely ZERO flex when walking on it.
Use the support posts added evenly through the project (noted with yellow arrows) These are the keyo to having a deck that does not flex.
A 2″x10″x16′ ledger joist was added between each of the support posts to allow for connection of each group of floor joists. 2 extra 6″x6″ posts were added and lag bolted to each of these ledger joists for added center support. This is critical to avoid deck flex.
For the decking material. we used 2″x6″x16′ boards. We decided to run with 2×6 boards instead of traditional deck boards. They are not much more money and they allow for a much stronger deck. Preventing deck flex is easy when you use strong boards.
Because these boards were 16-foot long, some of them were a little curved from end to end. We used a push bar to push them into place. We used 3″ exterior deck screws to attach the boards and we used a speed square to measure each screw prior to installation. This makes for a nice symmetrical look when complete.
The joists are set at 16″ on center. Do not space them 24″ on center. The 16 OC really helps you avoid deck flex.
The 2×6 boards really give the deck a commercial look. When you stand on this deck you can really feel how sturdy it is.
I wanted to custom build the railing system. I didn’t want to build it in the traditional way. I like the stacked 2×6 / 2×4 look and I like when it looks like the railings disappear into the top and bottom supports. Plus, I wanted the top rail to be wide enough to put a beer on 😉
I measured out every 4″ and marked the 2×4. I inserted a screw at each center line. These will attach the banisters to the top and bottom rails.
I used some 2×4 cut-offs as spacers to set the desired height of the base rail.
Once you have a section of banisters attached to a 2×4, use a Kreg Jig to make pocket holes in a section of 2×6. Attach the 2×6 base rail between two support posts. After, set your completed banister to 2×4 section atop the 2×6 and attach using 3″ deck screws every 10″. Next, lay a 2×4 atop the banisters and use a level on each banister and add a 3″ deck screw thru the top of each banister. Once all are set, attach a 2×6 top rail to complete the symmetrical look of the deck railing system. See photos for reference.
Summary: This was a large-scale project. The total build time was 10 very full weekend days. You will need a couple helpers when the job gets heavy. You will need to stay hydrated if you are working in the summer and wear sunscreen! The total build cost on this project was approximately $8,000 if you are doing the labor yourself. A lot of the added cost was the galvenized hardware and oversized boards at 16′ length.