It is often said there is beauty in simplicity. This idea applies to many aspects of life, including decks. When deciding on a new deck, it can be tempting to aim for the largest and most ornate designs. However, because of budget, space constraints, or other limitations, a large, multi-tiered deck might not work for you. But don't let that discourage you. Even a simple deck can be a great platform for creating your own private paradise. Here are some easy decking tips to help you build a simple, yet elegant escape.
1. Set a budget
The first step of any project is to set a budget. This lays the groundwork for what kind of deck you can afford, so make sure you take the time to prepare one. A healthy budget should include material and labor costs (if you plan on hiring an installer), and both short- and long-term maintenance costs associated with deck ownership.
2. Find an easy deck design
The design you pick for your project has a significant impact on how much work goes into the construction of your deck. Find some simple deck ideas for inspiration from an online list like this one from The Spruce, or design your own using an online deck design tool.
3. Know your codes
For your safety, you should always ensure your deck design meets local building codes. Even simple decks need to comply. For a full list of your local codes, stop by your building department where they will review your plans and issue a building permit.
4. Choose the right material
One of the best ways to ensure you have an easy deck build, is to choose a decking material that is easy to work with and maintain. For the ultimate easy deck, you might want to consider composite decking. Some composites can be used like real wood, but require less maintenance. A simple periodic cleaning with soap, hot water and a soft bristle brush should suffice for most composite decks.
5. Have the right tools on hand
Before you get to work, make sure you have the tools you need to get the job done to install your deck correctly. For working with boards like ChoiceDek, you need the following tools:
Chalk line – TIP! Manufacturer recommends blue chalk. DO NOT USE RED or other colored chalk because it may temporarily stain the deck.
Circular saw with carbide-tipped blade (fewer than 20 teeth is recommended)
Most composite decking require these same basic tools, however be sure to check the manufacturer's instructions to be certain.
6. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines
Manufacturers usually provide deck installation guidelines so you can ensure you don’t void the product warranty during construction. For example, ChoiceDek provides our guideline for installing composite decking here, which walks deck contractors and homeowners through the deck building process.
7. Waterproof your joists
Even if you build your deck with waterproof composite decking materials, it is still wise to protect the wood joists from water damage. Many shield barrier products are available to protect your deck framing, most of which are sold as rolls of self adhesive peel and stick flashing tape. We recommend using black tape, as white, or gray tape can sometimes be visible through the gaps between boards.
8. Use a simple fastener system
Don't feel like you are stuck using standard screws and nails to hold your deck boards in place. There are plenty of options for fastening deck boards. Composite deck boards with side grooves like ChoiceDek are compatible with most hidden fastener systems, which hold your deck boards in place without disrupting the visual flow of the deck. Be sure to check with the fastener instructions manual or your decking manufacturer to see if the two products are compatible.
9. Add the finishing touches with a trim
Adding a fascia board is an easy deck addition that helps to hide the supporting joists, and provides a finished look to the edge of your deck. For ChoiceDek, we recommend installing four 2 ¼-inch #7 stainless steel trim head screws in a vertical line every 10-12 inches through the length of the board. The top screw will go through the end or side of the decking and three screws into the rim joist vertically. This results in a secure and neatly wrapped deck with a consistent looking surface from end to end.
10. Consult an expert
If you’re a DIYer in need of additional help, take advantage of the experience and knowledge of the deck building professionals in your community. Deck professionals provide helpful tips and insights into increasing the efficiency and quality of your decking installation.
Don’t know where to look? Lowe’s offers a wide-range of professional deck installers across the U.S. and Canada. Locate a deck contractor here, or call ChoiceDek’s customer service line to get your composite deck installation questions answered: 1.800.951.5117.