Avoid This Mistakes When Tackling Your DIY Deck Project

If you’re planning on building your own deck it’s important to learn about the most common mistakes made during the process so that you can avoid making them. 

The Top Six DIY Deck-Building Mistakes

Let’s dive right into the top mistakes made by DIY deck builders.

Mistake #1: Choosing The Wrong Decking Board

Choosing the right material for your deck is perhaps the most important decision when planning a new deck.

The most common deck board materials are wood, composite, and plastic lumber. 

Wood: Wood is beautiful and traditional. It can be stained or painted to match any color scheme. The downside is that wood, even pressure-treated wood, doesn’t last. 

Wood absorbs water, causing it to warp, crack, peel, and splinter. It attracts insects that will burrow deep and cause damage. The maintenance required to keep a wood deck in good condition can be expensive and time-consuming.

Composite Decking: Composite is a combination of wood flour and plastics. It will last longer than wood and requires less maintenance but it has numerous downsides. 

Composite deck boards don’t have the strength of wood, which results in sagging. Composite absorbs a lot of heat and many homeowners complain that the decking is uncomfortable to walk on, to the point of burning, making it unsuitable for children and pets. 

Mold is another serious issue associated with composite decking. The wood flour interior is susceptible to mold and mildew since once liquid enters the inner portion, it can’t dry out. 

Plastic Lumber: Plastic lumber has all of the benefits of wood and composite lumber but none of the issues. 

Plastic lumber won’t crack, splinter, or warp because it doesn’t absorb water. Mold and mildew will never be an issue. Insects have no interest in plastic. 

Maintenance is simple – a quick wash when dirt and debris accumulate is all that is needed! 

Mistake #2: Not Getting A Permit

It doesn’t matter where you live in the United States, chances are that your town, city, township, county, or even HOA requires that you apply for a deck permit.

Deck permits ensure that the planned deck is structurally sound, is within property lines, and meets local guidelines. Although you can technically build without a permit, you risk fines. Without a permit, a deck is considered an unauthorized addition, making it difficult to sell a home.

Mistake #3: Installing Inadequate Post Deck Footers

The deck footers hold up the massive weight of the deck which is why it’s so important for the footers to be rock solid. 

In order to properly install deck footers, they must be installed below the frost line, otherwise, as the weather changes, the footers will move as the ground freezes and thaws.

Where is the frost line? The frost line varies from location to location and is impacted by the severity of winter in the area, the type of soil, and the moisture in the soil. Research where the frost line is in your area prior to installing the deck footers.

Mistake #4: Incorrectly Spacing Joists

When joists are incorrectly spaced, this can cause the deck boards to sag over time. The correct spacing depends on the type of boards being used and the direction the boards are being installed. Be sure to talk to the board manufacturer about how to correctly space the joists before installing. 

Mistake #5: Blocking Egress And Access To Services

Without proper planning, decks can block services that require access, like dryer vents, outlets, and water faucets. It can also hinder a window egress which will ensure that a permit will not be approved. 

Mistake #6: Failing To Install Deck Railing

Generally, decks that are less than 30’’ high do not require a railing but that doesn’t mean a railing shouldn’t be installed. 

Railing is an important safety feature, both on self contained decks and on deck stairs. Check out the large selection of vinyl railing in the Plastic Lumber Yard store to find the perfect match for your new deck! 

Get Help With Your Decking Project

If you have questions about which deck boards are best, which hardware to choose, or what the correct joist spacing is, contact our team. We are We are happy to help.