Here's How: Redwood Is a Good, Insect-Resistant Material for Decks
Dear James: My kids are getting older, and a backyard deck would be great. I am on a limited budget and want to build it myself but have no idea where to start. Any tips? -- Maria S.
Dear Maria: The addition of a deck, usually adjacent to a sliding glass door, is one of the most common home improvement projects. It can add much resale value to your house even if you pay to have someone build it. If you build it yourself and have only material costs, the return on the investment is tremendous.
Building a deck yourself is not a highly technical project, so most people can handle it. The most difficult part will be carrying and handling the heavy and bulky materials. Before you do anything, first plan your deck. This includes the size, material choices, built-in benches and tables, etc.
Most deck designs are straightforward and allow you to make it as complicated or simple as you wish. This project doesn't require a master carpenter; as long as you can handle a hammer and a level, your deck will be ready in no time.
By using pressure-treated lumber for all the structural members -- ledger boards, beams, joists, etc. -- you are ensuring your deck will last for a long time. You don't even have to paint or stain the wood unless you are going for a color match to your house. Most lumber will age nicely to a gray coloring.
Using a unique wood for the railings and deck area is a good idea. It is actually easier to build using a wood like redwood than with pressure-treated pine. Using redwood can make your deck look spectacular. Redwood is lighter and easier to handle than pressure-treated lumber. It is also easier to saw.
One drawback to redwood is it is more expensive, but you can lower the cost by selecting the proper grade. There are many grades of redwood that cost less than clear all-heart redwood. Buying one of these lesser heartwood grades will still provide resistance to decay and insects.
Try to save room in your budget for stainless-steel nails, especially when using redwood. Stainless-steel nails will eliminate future stains. A less expensive option is hot-dipped galvanized nails, but you still may get some rust and staining from these.
The location of your deck will play an important part in the planning process. Many factors including what the deck will be used for, air currents, compatibility with your existing house, amount of sunlight desired, privacy and view will affect the optimum location.
How your deck is going to be used will determine what type of accessories you should add onto your deck. Elements you should consider are how many people will typically be on the deck and whether you will be sunbathing on it or using it primarily for entertaining. Benches, tables and even a built-in barbecue can be great additions you may want to consider during the planning stages.
Build your deck off the ground surface, just a few inches or many feet above it. Your deck can be freestanding or connected to your house. Check your local building requirements before you make any lumber or hardware purchases. There may be certain restrictions in your neighborhood you are not aware of.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, Ohio, 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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