Building a Basic Deck

Creating Outdoor Living Space

8 Easy Steps

  1. LAYOUT - Use string to layout deck area making sure it is square and level. Use the 3'-4'-5' method for determining "square".
  2. PREPARE SITE - Remove organic material.
  3. ATTACH LEDGER - Position the ledger level and 2-1/2 inches below threshold. If necessary, remove siding to provide a flat (square) surface. Plan location of fasteners (lags, etc.) so as not to interfere with proper placement of joist hangers.
  4. FOOTINGS / POSTS - Locate and dig footing holes. Check local building code for frost line depth. Precast pier blocks and metal post connectors simplify job.
  5. POSTS / BEAMS - Use line level on string from ledger to determine correct beam height on post. Double check height diagonally and trim post. Attach with metal post/beam connector.
  6. APPLY JOISTS - Sight down each joist for crown and place crown up. Attach to ledger using metal joist hanger and toe nail to beam with 16D galvanized box nails. Be sure to maintain 24" OC spacing. NOTE: Outside joists are placed inside 24" spacing to maintain multiple.
  7. LAY DECKING - Install bark side up whenever possible. Boards should be spaced a minimum of 1/8" on both 2x4 and 2x6. Use 3" deck screw when installing. Apply end cut solution to all field cuts.
  8. FINISHING TOUCH - When deck surface is clean and dry to the touch, apply protective RAINCOAT WATER REPELLENT SEALER by spray or roller. This step maintains the appearance of the project by providing long term protection against the effects of repetitive wetting and drying.


Helpful Thoughts for a Successful Project


  1. Mill ends may not be square - resquare and trim ends. Take this step into consideration when figuring lengths and finished deck size.
  2. Plan decking - lay out materials to assure best appearing face is exposed. When possible, place boards bark side up to minimize any potential cupping.
  3. Pressure treated wood possesses all the natural characteristics of untreated wood in addition to being long-lasting and low maintenance. Treating does not alter the normal dimensional changes due to environmental exposure. Use RAINCOAT WATER REPELLENT.
  4. Stairs: Measure the vertical rise and decide upon the best riser size for each step. This will determine the number of steps needed. See the suggested Step Ratios chart for recommended ratios of tread width and riser height. Multiply the number of steps by the tread width to find the overall run of the stairs. Stair kits are available.
  5. Remember, you are about to do finish work, not rough framing. The results will be visible for years to come. There is no substitute for good construction techniques and workmanship.

Have fun!

Additional Comments

  • ALL PURPOSE CONSTRUCTION LUMBER, ELITE DECKING and NATURAL SELECT WOOD have been pressure treated to resist damage caused by termites and decay-causing fungi.
  • ELITE DECKING decking and NATURAL SELECT WOOD have been selected for appearance as architecturally pleasing structural materials to provide years of service while exposed to the elements.




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Contact Us

Payless Lumber
80458 HWY 395 N.
Hermiston, OR 97838
Phone: (541) 567-2226
Fax: (541) 567-0713