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Design and Build a Deck

Two images of furnished decks, including an all-wood deck and a composite deck.

Updated March 25, 2021

Marc M.

By Marc M.

Create a place to entertain or simply relax. Learn how to create deck designs and how to build a deck. We’ll also give you deck ideas for furnishing and decorating your outdoor space. This series of videos and step-by-step instructions breaks building a deck into manageable parts.

How to Build a Wood Deck

Building a deck with pressure treated wood is a common way to make sure your new outdoor space withstands the elements. Wood gives the deck a natural appeal, and you can tailor the look with a wide range of exterior stains. Watch our wood deck construction project from start to finish or see step-by-step instructions for each part of the project below.

How to Build a Composite Deck

A deck constructed with composite decking gives you a low-maintenance outdoor space. With a variety of wood looks, you can build the deck to complement your home or create a standout space for relaxation. Take a look at the full project video or see each part of the project below.

Tip

Before you start any deck project, check with your homeowners association and local building department about permits, building codes, inspections and any other requirements that might apply to your project.

Constructing a Deck Step by Step

Building a deck is the ultimate backyard project. It takes some work, but this series of articles and videos shows you step-by-step instructions for each phase, gives you a list of tools and materials, and provides you with an overview of basic deck-building techniques.

Caution

Before beginning any excavation, call 811 to check for underground utilities.

How to Build a Deck: Design and Layout

A man using mason line and yellow marking paint to indicate the location of post holes for a deck.

The first step in building your dream deck is to create a plan. This includes deciding on size and materials and laying out the deck in your yard.

How to Build a Deck: Post Holes and Deck Framing

A man using an impact driver to attach a rim joist to a deck frame.

A safe, long-lasting deck needs proper footings and solid framing. Here’s what you need to know to frame your deck, including setting the deck posts and installing joists.

How to Build a Deck: Wood Decking and Deck Railings

A man using an Irwin circular saw to cut installed wood decking to the right length.

Now that the frame for your deck is complete, you can install the decking. This part of the deck project shows you how to install wood decking and deck railings.

How to Build a Deck: Wood Stairs and Stair Railings

A man using a Kobalt cordless drill to install wood stair treads for deck stairs.

The final part of the project is the stairs. Building stairs requires some math and a little know-how. Follow these steps to install a set of wood stairs.

How to Build a Deck: Composite Decking and Deck Railings

A man installing a composite decking board using hidden deck clips.

Composite deck materials add sophistication and durability to any deck. Here’s how to install composite decking and vinyl deck railings.

How to Build a Deck: Composite Stairs and Stair Railings

A man measuring and marking stair railings for a composite deck.

With the composite decking and the deck railings installed, complete the look by building stairs with composite stair treads and vinyl railings.

Upgrade Your Deck and Add Finishing Touches

Railing lights shining down on a wood bench and red throw pillows on a wood deck.

In this final video of our deck series, we’ll show you how to add accessories and give your deck a custom look with a lot of personality.

How to Build a Floating Deck

Many of the deck-building principles in the projects above also apply to building a floating or detached deck, but this type of deck doesn’t attach to your house. Watch our full floating deck build or see each part of the do-it-yourself floating deck project below.

Planning a Floating Deck

 A man using batter boards and yellow mason line to mark the layout for a floating deck.

Learn how to get started building a platform or detached deck by laying out and building the floating deck foundation.

Framing a Floating Deck

A man positioning a concrete deck block to align a joist for a floating deck foundation.

With your deck laid out and your foundation in place, it’s time to build the frame. See how to cut and assemble the frame for your floating deck.

Installing Decking for a Floating Deck

A floating deck in a yard with brown deck boards installed.

The frame is complete, and it’s time to add the decking. This final part of the floating deck project shows you how to install composite decking and gives you ideas for some finishing touches to make your deck inviting and comfortable.

Building Terms and Techniques

Building a deck requires knowledge of various terms and techniques, which are also useful in other projects. Make sure you know how to use and read a tape measure properly. Learn what level and plumb mean so you can make sure your deck is level and stable. Know what on center means so you install the floor joists correctly. Learn how to use a chalk line and create guidelines across large areas. Finally, make sure you know how to drill a pilot hole to keep your decking from splitting when you install it.

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