planning a deck

Old 06-22-06, 06:10 PM
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planning a deck

I am planning to replace a deck with a slightly larger, slightly different shaped deck. I am not real skilled, but I think I can handle it. My question is where do I begin... Where or how do I get plans or how do I measure to get an accurate materials list, Any other info you think I should consider would be greatly appreciated.

Old 06-23-06, 05:45 AM
jcs is offline
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I won't offer you the expert opinion, as I'm not qualified to do that. But I was exactly in your position last year when I built my deck. Here's what I did. Your mileage may vary.

I went to the library and checked out a number of books on carpentry and specifically on deck building. I read them and made sure I understood the techniques, the whys and the hows.

Then I went to our village and read up on the codes and chatted with the building inspector, who was very helpful. For example, you'll want to know what your soil load bearing capacity is, since that will be important in choosing the diameter and number of concrete piers you'll need, and he's the guy to tell you. And you'll want to know how deep the piers need to be.

At that point I began designing the deck. It's actually not too hard. If you've decided how your piers are laid out and you've got your span tables to tell you what lumber to use, it's pretty straightforward from there. I drew up the plans using a CAD program (neat hand drawings are sufficient, but I'm an engineering nerd and used the CAD instead) and submitted them. The inspector then requested some changes, which I made and then I resubmitted them and they were approved.

For a materials list, that's not too hard. Using the basic dimensions of your deck and the span tables, you can add up the lumber costs pretty easily. Don't forget the cost of the lumber for the railing, the joist hangers, pier-post and post-beam connections, nails and screws.

I don't know if any of the above was helpful, but if I can do it with no carpentry experience, then I would think most people with mechanical aptitude and good attention to detail can as well.

Last edited by jcs; 06-23-06 at 05:48 AM. Reason: typos
Old 06-23-06, 03:27 PM
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they have a really good design tool at

they will give you a material list, i found it to be a good reference but wouldnt trust it 100% since they had a lot of extra things in there that you really dont need.

Like the other poster said....get a book or ten and dont forget to support your local lumberyard
Old 07-01-06, 03:21 PM
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Deck Design Tool

There is an online deck design tool that you can use at I used it to do my initial deck design and it worked great. it will give you a complete report including materials needed. After you have completed the design and submitted it, it will be saved as a pdf file and you can save it to your computer and/or print it.

Good luck

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