Avoid These Common Mistakes When Adding a Deck to Your Home

Building a deck, however, may be a difficult procedure full of dangers. You can avoid wasting time, and money, or experiencing needless stress by being aware of these typical blunders.

A deck may be a great addition to your home, providing a space for outside gatherings, dining, and relaxation. However, building a deck may be a challenging and dangerous process. By being aware of these common mistakes, you can prevent losing time and money or unnecessarily adding stress to your life.

Avoid several of the mistakes that deck-building homeowners frequently encounter.

Mistake 1: Attaching the Ledger Board to the House Incorrectly

Half of a deck’s weight is sometimes transmitted to a ledger board attached to the side of a home. The ledger board transforms into a beam capable of supporting thousands of pounds of weight. Not the superficial siding or exterior skin of the house, but the structural elements of the building must bear this weight. A catastrophic failure and collapse could result from the ledger board pulling away from the house; hence, it must be fastened. Several of the most typical deck-ledger attachment errors are listed below:

  • Nailing the ledger board to the house
  • Using lag bolts to anchor the ledger board
  • Using fasteners that don’t offer decades of corrosion resistance

Bolts are the best way to fasten a ledger board to a home. The ledger board, the exterior skin of the home and the horizontal joist or band board inside the house are both entirely penetrated by these fasteners. On the machine threads of the through bolt’s end, a washer and nut are attached. Only if it drags the interior structural joist or band board with it may the ledger board separate and fall to the ground. Using specialized hold-down anchors that fasten to the sides of the deck joists is the ideal method for securing a ledger board. These anchors connect to a corresponding anchor connected to the interior sides of the house’s joists. The two anchors are joined together by a galvanized threaded rod that is threaded through the ledger board. This approach is strongly advised by structural engineers to guarantee that the ledger board never collapses or separates from the house.

Mistake 2: Being Inattentive to Local Deck Building Code

It is always necessary to construct decks according to regulations and in a structurally sound manner. Building codes are frequently based on the International Residential Code (IRC), with local modifications. Although you must be aware of IRC rules, do-it-yourself builders frequently overlook local modifications. The climate and other demands of the area are reflected in local adjustments. You can only learn about your region’s specific deck-building code from your permits department.

Mistake 3: Skipping the Planning Phase

One of the biggest errors that homeowners make is not doing adequate planning. It takes more than just purchasing lumber and hammering in a few nails to build a deck. It necessitates careful consideration of the available space, personal needs, and regional building regulations. Establish the dimensions, location, and function of your deck first. Your deck’s size and shape should be appropriate for its intended use as well as the style of your house and surrounding area. It’s essential to carefully plan the right size, form, stair position, and material selection because today’s decking materials are made to last 25–50 years. Keep in mind that you should be happy with these aspects each time you use your deck. That fulfillment results from careful planning, wise decisions, and superb execution.

Mistake 4: Blocking Access or Egress

When you stop and consider it, your deck is an outdoor room. You need simple deck access, just as you do for entry to each room in your house. There shouldn’t be anything in your path, so you may safely enter and exit the deck. Egress from a deck is equally crucial. You don’t want anything in the way if you ever need to escape your house in an emergency and go outside onto your deck. When you add a deck to the side of the house, it may wind up obscuring or obstructing a variety of utilities, including outside outlets, dryer vents, water taps and air conditioning units. Any services that the new deck might disrupt should be relocated. Your local permitting office might not approve your deck permit in some situations if it prevents egress from a basement window. The steps leading from a deck should never be blocked, and a walkway on the deck should always be clear. Use common sense, as you always should.

Mistake 5: Improperly Installing Handrails (or Failing to Install Them At All!)

Guardrails and handrails on decks are required safety equipment. Handrail installation requirements and strength requirements are clearly outlined in the building code. Normal ground-level decks don’t require handrails, but if the deck surface is two feet or higher above the ground, installing handrails is a smart idea. Additionally, from a design perspective, it is a fault in and of itself when railings are neglected during the planning stage of a deck build. It’s crucial to carefully analyze your options and to do so early on in the process because the railing is sometimes one of an outdoor space’s most expensive and noticeable features. Like shutters, railings are an architectural component that should complement your home and showcase your unique style in addition to being practical.

Deck railing installation calls for a high level of expertise. Use lag bolts sparingly. Keep in mind that when someone pushes or leans on the top of a railing, the handrail and handrail posts are transformed into levers. Lag bolts will come out more quickly than a crowbar can remove a regular nail from lumber if many people push against a handrail at once. The recommended fasteners to use to attach handrails and handrail posts to the deck undercarriage are through bolts. Even better, use specialized hold-down anchors that are attached to the post and bolted to the sides of the deck joists. These establish incredibly solid relationships.

In the installation of a railing, nails should be avoided. Nails frequently lose their gripping power over time. If the nails rust or lose their hold, portions of a handrail may come apart from the posts abruptly or without warning. Pay special attention to all of the deck handrail standards in the building code. Remember that the building code is a list of minimal requirements. Better builds can always be made than code. Take a long view. Imagine a person twenty years from now resting against the handrail that you intend to construct this weekend. Will the railing still be as sturdy as it was when it was first built?

Mistake 6: Selecting the Wrong Decking Material

You must do a thorough comparison of decking materials early in the planning process. The type of decking you use will determine how your deck is framed. Make no assumption that decking is built uniformly. 

Decking comes in two major categories:

  • Natural wood
  • Composite decking

Both materials have advantages and disadvantages. When evaluating the differences between wood and composite, be sincere with yourself. Making an actual written list to guide your decision-making may be helpful. It is usually simpler to cut and fasten natural wood. However, some goods made from rainforest wood are so difficult to work with that you need to drill a hole for every fastener! Every type of wood decking needs regular cleaning and sealing. Cleaning wood decking is best done with certified organic oxygen bleach. Never use chlorine bleach because it will eliminate the lignin that keeps the wood fibers together. The natural hue of wood will also be removed by chlorine bleach. A wooden deck requires a lot of work to clean and seal. The top sealer will be lucky to last three years. Natural wood also has splinters as a problem. If you or someone you care about has sensitive feet, keep that in mind. Low upkeep is required for composite decking. It might only need a mild scrub with standard liquid dish soap once a year to get rid of airborne dirt and a thin layer of algae. A composite deck never needs to be sealed.

Working with wood and composite decking is fairly comparable. The boards are constant, which is helpful because you don’t have to work around knots, warps, or splits. The best composite decking materials feature unique fastener systems that guarantee the decking is properly spaced and maintains its excellent appearance for many years. Although these fasteners take longer to install than nails driven with a nail gun, the results are worthwhile. No matter what kind of decking material you decide to use, make sure to safeguard the substructure’s wooden beams and joists by covering them with protection tape. Around the holes made by the fasteners, these tapes stop water from penetrating the boards. Over time, water can cause cracks to form in the wood and fasteners, causing them to come loose.

Mistake 7: Not Finding the Right Contractor

Many homeowners start their deck-building project with good intentions and the conviction that they are capable of doing it themselves. After several months, the project has come to an end. Consider whether you are up to the task by becoming familiar with all the nuances involved in deck construction before taking on this project alone. If not, look for a certified deck builder or general contractor in your area.

You can assure a smooth construction process and provide a long-lasting, secure, and entertaining outdoor environment by staying away from these typical blunders. To build the deck of your dreams, make the necessary investments in thorough planning and the proper contractor. It’s not only about constructing an outside structure; it’s about making a place that will make you happy every time you enter it. Remember that the level of craftsmanship used throughout the construction process has a significant impact on the deck’s structural integrity, aesthetic appeal, compliance with building codes and fulfillment of the warranty’s requirements. This makes it essential to work with a contractor who specializes in deck construction, has the necessary credentials, keeps up with the newest building codes, and is familiar with the manufacturer’s specifications. 

In essence, creating a deck is a long-term investment that demands study and caution rather than simply being a home repair project. This is something that deck construction specialists are aware of and will bring to your project, ensuring that every detail is handled correctly and to your satisfaction. As a result, give your project plenty of thought as you plan, investigate, and choose the ideal contractor. In addition to being a beautiful addition to your house, a well-built deck may serve as a place for family get-togethers, a tranquil retreat or a fashion statement. If you do it well, it will bring you years of pleasure and fulfillment. Build a deck that will last the distance by making informed decisions and diligent planning.

If you’re looking to update or repair your deck, Valor Home Services can help. For more information, book your appointment with our skilled experts by giving our office team a call