Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Own Deck
It's not typically recommended that a homeowner build their own deck, as this job is often more complicated and difficult than many homeowners realise, and you can easily wind up with a deck that sags or even shifts out of place. A professional deck builder has the tools and know-how needed to ensure a deck is level and secure and will know how to properly seal the wood once the deck is built to reduce the risk of mould and mildew forming. If you do want to tackle this project on your own, however, note some common mistakes to avoid along the way.
Never skimp on the footings you dig for your deck; if you try to rush the project by digging a shallow footing, this can lead to the shifting and sinking of the deck. You also need to understand the soil composition in your yard, as overly moist or soft soil can also increase the risk of the deck sinking and shifting. In these cases, you may need a wider footing that can hold enough concrete to keep the deck level and secure.
Never assume that all wood species are alike; some, like teak and bamboo, are very dense. This makes them an excellent choice for a solid and sturdy deck, but also makes them very difficult, if not impossible, to cut with standard tools. Softer woods like pine are easier to fabricate, but you also need to consider how often these will need to be sealed and stained over the years to keep the wood from absorbing moisture and dirt and to keep them from holding mildew and mould. Balance the ease of installation against the overall, long-term costs of maintaining a type of timber decking when you're ready to choose the wood.
Over-spanning refers to installing very long slats for the deck without needed support in the middle. If you install long slats without proper middle support, they tend to sag and shift out of place or even outright crack, especially if you add heavy furniture, cooking equipment and other such items to the deck. You may also need added supports under deck beams that are cut and installed diagonally, as these tend to shift and sag where the beams are connected. Always err on the side of caution and avoid over-spanning the deck by adding supports in the middle of its area, and especially where two smaller slats are connected, to keep those beams solid and secure.