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Deck Construction Basics

Below you will find 3D diagrams and illustrations guiding you through the most important steps in deck building in Toronto.

Before you start construction, you need to have a plan showing the location and profile sizes of beams, joists, railing posts, stair stringers, blocking etc. You will also need a detailed footing layout plan showing where the footings need to go and what their diameter is. If you are building your deck in Toronto, you need to make sure that your design, structural member spacing and material selection complies with the Ontario Building Code.

 

Step 1

 

Step 1

Once you have your footing plan, you need to excavate proper diameter holes (specific to your deck plan and depend on the tributary load area to each footing) to a depth of 4’. To excavate the footing you can either use a hand clam shovel combined with a metal pry bar to loosen the soil and remove stones, rent a hydraulic auger (we do not recommend using a 2 man auger) or hire a company specializing in footing drilling. Once the excavation for your deck is complete, as an option you can put 6” of gravel at the bottom of the footing, then insert a sono tube (so that its top is 6” above grade) into the hole and fill the hole with concrete. You can use the regular concrete mix (cheapest mix available at any building store) and mix it in the wheel barrel. You then need to insert a galvanized metal deck post bracket into the concrete footing on top.

The bracket size needs to correspond to the beam size.Wait at least one day for the concrete to harden before you can carry on your construction. The next step is to attach a deck lag board to the house. If the house is made up of a solid brick or concrete, you need to use 6” long, ½” diameter masonry or concrete bolts. If your house wall is made of siding, veneer brick or stucco, you need to use 12” long ½” diameter lag bolts to attach the lag board to the ledger of your house frame (assuming the deck is roughly the same level as the floors inside the house).

Step 2

 

Step 1

Once the deck footings are in place and the lag is securely attached to the house, the next step is to install the beam(s). In the picture above, the joists sit on top of the beam therefore the top of the beam is level with the bottom of the lag. The beam sits on top of 4x4 posts. Use a long straight piece of lumber and a level, measure from the lag and find where the posts need to be cut in order the beam to be level with the lag. Once the posts are cut, the beam can be spliced up and installed on top of the posts.  Beam is attached to the posts with 2x4 or 2x6 blocks. The next step is to install all the joists, properly spaced and attach the joists to the lag (with joist hangers) and install one board at the front of the deck (rim board). All joists can be toe nailed from both sides into the beam.

Step 3

 

Step 1

After the posts, beams and joists are installed, the next step is to install railing posts, stair stringers, intermediate joist blocking (bridging) and frame for the skirt of the frame.

A block needs to be installed beside each railing post in order to securely attach it to the deck frame. Stair stringers are attached to railing posts at the bottom of the stairs. For the skirt frame, you will need a continuous 2x4 running along the bottom of the deck perimeter. This 2x4 can be attached in a manner shown on the diagrams.

Stair stringers for decks are normally cut from a 2x10 or a 2x12 stock. Use the carpenter’s square to mark out the stringer as shown on the diagram and cut thestringer with a circular saw.

Step 4

 

Step 4

The next step is to install al the decking boards. Use spacers to properly space the decking boards and attach them to joists with matching decking screws or a hidden fastener method. Have all the decking boards cantilevered on both sides pass the edges of the deck. After all the decking boards have been installed, you can chalk a straight line corresponding to the edge of the decking board and cut the edges of the deck boards with a circular saw.

Step 5

 

Step 5

The next step is to install 2x4 rails on the railing, install step risers and install the top rail that will tie all the railing posts together. 2x4 rails are toe screwed into the 4x4 deck railing posts. You can use 1x6 and 1x2 for the stair stringers or a 1x8. In the picture above you will also see a 2x4 fascia installed around the perimeter of the deck to hide all the deck board end grains.

Step 6

 

Step 6

The final step is to insert the railing panels. For this deck the railing panels are made up of 2x2 wood balusters spaced 4” apart and attached to 1x2 nailing strips. The railing panels are then screwed into the 2x4 rail frame. The skirt boards (normally 1x6) are attached with finishing nails and outdoor wood glue to the deck frame.

You now have a professionally finished deck built in accordance with the Ontario Building Code!

It will take a professional about 4-5 days to build this deck after the deck footings have been prepared.