Build a Raised Deck in 6 Steps

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  • 16-24 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 800-2,000
What You'll Need
Deck screws
Metal flashing
Power saw
Joist hangers, 90-degree and u-shape
Batter800-1-800 boards
Mason string
Chalk line
Portable power mixer
Bags of ready-mix concrete
Power auger or shovel

A raised deck is the best option if you have a home higher off the ground like a bi-level or raised bungalow. A basic raised deck can be built in a few weekends. Follow these steps and you'll be enjoying the fresh air on your new deck.

Step 1 - Determine the Amount of Wood You Need

Create a plan or design for the deck. Sometimes specialists at home hardware stores will do this for you for free if you buy your supplies from them. Otherwise, it's fairly simple to create your own raised deck design. Keep in mind that you will lose some length on the depth and height of each board, typically 1/4 inch.

Determine the length and the width, the number of rails you need, and the height of the steps. Take these numbers to your local home hardware store and someone will make sure you get all the supplies you need.

Depending on building codes in your jurisdiction, you may be required to get a permit to build a raised deck of a certain height. Plans are necessary in order to get a permit, and most municipalities will want details, such as the type of wood you plan to use, the height of the rails and how you plan to place the required rails on stairs. Do not buy all the materials until your plans have been approved and you have the permit.

Step 2 - Lay Out and Dig the Footings

Attach a ledger board to the house if you don't already have one. A 14 x 24-foot deck will need a 2x12 ledger. Use the batter boards and mason string to lay out the location of the footings. The usual basic single-level deck will need about four footings.

Dig 12-inch wide holes for the footings. Make sure the depth is deep enough to get below the frost line, which is typically 48 inches below the ground. Rent a power auger for this to make the job easier. You can also dig the holes manually. Premix the necessary amount of concrete. Insert the posts into the holes and make sure they're level. Pour concrete into the holes. Double-check to make sure the posts are aligned. Allow the concrete to cure for 48 hours.

Step 3 - Trim and Brace Posts

Trim the top of the posts once the concrete has cured. Reinforce them with wood and joist hangers. These are the temporary joists.

Step 4 - Install Permanent Joists

Use joist hangers to attach the permanent joists to the ledger. To prevent twisting the joists, make sure you fasten blocking pieces between them. Remove temporary joists.

Step 5 - Install the Decking

Center the seams of the decking boards over the joists and stagger them for the best looking deck possible. Fasten them with deck screws. The first row of decking is installed perpendicular to the joists, and the remaining rows are staggered.

Step 6 - Build the Stairs

Pour a concrete pad where the base of the stairs will be. The average pad is four inches thick. Dig posts and install the framing for the stairs. Screw the decking board into the joists or use a pre-made stair package available at any home hardware store. Install rails.