How-To - Home Improvement

How to: Build a deck

Home improvement expert Jon Eakes provides essential deck-building tips.

With such a sliver of time to enjoy the outdoors, building a deck to sit outside is an attractive option for most Canadian homeowners. But like any home renovation project, the design and construction of a deck requires a skilled hand -- or at the very least a well-researched one.

With the help of Jon Eakes, Canada's home improvement expert for 30 years and author of Do it Yourself (DK publishers, 2007), the following is everything you need to know to build a safe, enjoyable and durable deck for your home.

Before you begin: Have a plan
The last thing any homeowner wants is an accident, so make sure your deck design plan eliminates any and all safety hazards that may arise. Ask yourself the following:

1 What are the rules and regulations of my municipality?
Municipal rules and regulations are unique to each community, so be sure you understand what restrictions apply to you.

2 Will my deck block municipal access to hydro?
If your deck or fence is blocking access to hydro, the city won't think twice about bulldozing through in an emergency!

3 If a swimming pool is involved, think about neighbourhood kids
Will your new deck provide free access to a swimming pool? Could a child fall into the pool from the deck? Do you need an alarm or special latch for the entrance onto your deck? Run through every scenario and to avoid the worst from happening.

4 Get the proper permits
Avoid headaches before they start with the proper permits for your deck's dimensions.

Essential deck-building tools
Eakes suggests collecting the following tools before you begin:

  • Circ (Circular) saw
  • Hand saw for finishing
  • Impact wrench -- these really drive the screws into the wood. Most hardware stores have impact wrenches for rent or sale.
  • Electric screwdriver
  • Pneumatic (air-powered) nailer -- essential for fixing up your fence or railing.
  • Gloves, safety goggles, dust mask.
  • Wear a mask especially if you're working with cedar -- the natural insect repellent in cedar can cause violent reactions in some people.
This article is featured on Our best summer how-to projects

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