INGENUITY AT WORK
Resources for Special Tips, Tools, and Articles to Conquer Precision.
A deck can be a great addition to your home and yard. Not only can it increase the overall value of your home, but if you're like me and my family, it can end up being where you spend the most amount of time during the warmer months of the year. It can be uniquely satisfying to stand on a deck that you've built with your own two hands, and the money you'll save by doing it yourself is enough motivation for a cheapskate like me. Bragging rights aside, there are some things to consider and it does require some research. After all, you want it to be nice, functional, and above all safe.
Searching the web for a project like this can be a pretty daunting experience. Not only will you have to weed through all sorts of questionable sites providing dubious advice, but also pages that have nothing to do with building a deck for your home. Apparently "deck building" is a skill also required for certain online video games.
We've put together a list of sites to get you started on your way to enjoying the good weather the way you're supposed to: outside, on a deck. It may seem strange to be talking about decks and deck building when winter is coming, but fall is a great time for this project. You can get it done in two to three weekends and next spring the deck will be ready to enjoy.
There are thousands of ideas for decks. All sorts of colors, styles, types and tips. A site like Pinterest may not seem like the ideal place to start, but millions of people visit the site everyday and add their own ideas and pictures. Here's a page I used to spark some great ideas that led to me building a better deck than I had originally planned.
The cost to pay someone to build a deck alone can make doing it yourself worth it. The same deck that would have cost me between $6,000 and $8,000 to have someone else build it, cost me about $900 in wood, cement, screws and a few new tools.
There are several online calculators that can help you estimate the cost of your project based on your zip code, and that's a great idea, but many of them haven't been updated in a while, and most of them are available to try to sell you something or get you to hire a contractor. Since you're probably going to be getting your material from one of the big box stores, I'd suggest using their calculators. They're not accurate to the penny, but they are close and give you a pretty good idea of what kind of cash you'll be shelling out. Lowes has a nifty deck designer. Home Depot has an actual piece of software called "BigHammer" that you can install on your Windows computer. It will calculate your costs based on the store nearest to you. If you'd rather stick with a local hardware and lumber yard, I would suggest still using one of these calculators and then comparing prices.
While the calculators and estimators mentioned above will tell you how much wood and how many screws you're going to need, there's nothing worse than being in the middle of a project and having to run to the store because you don't have the right tool. I'm always surprised when I'm in the midst of a project and find myself using a tool that I would never have considered for that job. Build Direct has a comprehensive list of tools that are specific to building a deck.
Once you have read over the suggested tools, do an inventory of what you have and what you need. While we don't offer every tool needed to build a deck we do offer many that you probably don't already have in your tool box.
Tip and Tricks
Nobody wants to get halfway through a job and realize that there was an easier way to do something. Or worse yet, that they completely missed something crucial. The Family Handyman and DIY Network both offer several tips to make building your deck a little easier. The articles cover joist hanging, notching, spacing, and even straightening a bowed deck board.
If you've come across other sites that you like or want to share some of your tips, feel free to leave a comment. If you have already built a deck and want to show it off, share it on our Facebook page and we will include it in a future post. Good luck and get building.