Step-By-Step Guide

Building a Deck Isn't Something You Do Every Day

So we wanted to help you out. Here's a step-by-step guide to getting the deck of your dreams.

  1. Decide your budget

  2. Get quotes from a few deck builders

  3. Choose your deck builder

  4. Choose your design

  5. Choose your materials

Decide Your Budget

This is a logical and important step. Tell your deck builder your budget before he begins the design process. He’ll work within your parameters. However, given the private nature of this decision, it is not necessary to share your budget with anyone else.

Get Quotes From A Few Deck Builders

Each builder will approach the project from a different perspective. This will be helpful in gathering ideas for shapes and designs.
Read the written estimates and compare the value and quality for: 
  • Built-ins
  • Height
  • Levels
  • Material
  • Railing
  • Shape
  • Steps
Builders may use:
  • Treated 6x6 posts buried in the ground
  • 2x12 for all beams
  • #1-grade pressure treated lumber framing
Or:
  • 4x4 posts
  • 2x10s for all beams
  • Low quality lumber for framing
The quality of the materials impacts the price and longevity of your project.
 
Some deck builders will include the following in their quote; but some charge extra for: 
  • Deck screws with hidden fasteners
  • Covering wood framing with fascia trim
  • Obtaining permits
  • Picture framing the deck door
The bottom line: Look for hidden charges. Do research and ask questions. Inquisitive customers become well-informed customers. Well-informed customers are less likely to have regrets after the project is complete.

Choose Your Deck Builder

This is tricky. You can pick the one with the cheapest price, the one with the best design, or the company that offers the best incentives.

Our advice: Go with your gut. Choose a licensed, and insured professional that makes you comfortable. Then, ask for references. 

Choose Your Design

This decision always comes down to a combination of practicality, looks, and cost. The design you pick will be decided by what you value most. Your deck builder should be willing to work with you to tweak the design until it is perfect.

Wait until you have a final design that you love before committing to a deck builder and giving a deposit. Most will ask you for an upfront deposit, usually around 30% of the total construction costs. Depending on the size of your project, the contractor may ask for another 30% before beginning work.

Be careful of any contractor that asks for a larger deposit up front or wants to be paid in full before completing the work and having it approved by the inspector.

Choose Your Decking Materials

The overwhelming amount of different types and brands of decking and railing can make this step a daunting task.

Compare the Maintenance Options

  • Wood decking requires pressure washing and staining and will rot and decay over time.
  • Composite decking at best requires a lot of maintenance, and at worst can fail completely. 
  • Capped composite decking is new and questions remain about long-term durability and moisture absorption. All composite decking, like Trex and capped composite, has wood in it. Over time as moisture absorbs into the decking, that wood will rot away, compromising the integrity of the decking or railing. 
  • Vinyl decking tends to expand and contract with the changing temperatures and has some issues with oxidization or chalking from exposure to UV rays.

Compare the Materials 

Wood options include:
  • Pressure treated decking in Southern Pine can save you some money. It’s proven, natural option that has been used to build decks for decades. 
  • Ipe (Brazilian Walnut)
  • Cumuru (Brazilian Teak)
  • Cedar
  • Mahogany 
Wood has a shorter lifespan than composite or vinyl decking.

Pro's Recommendation for Materials

  • Vinyl decking
  •  Railing 
We have been using both for over 10 years, with great results. We have had some cosmetic issues with vinyl decking and railing over the years, almost all of which we have been able to fix without replacing the materials. We’ve never seen vinyl of any kind lose structural integrity or need to be replaced for safety reasons. In contrast, wood and composite decks fail completely, making them unsafe.
 
Again, ask your deck builder lots of questions as you make these decisions. Hopefully, you have chosen a deck builder that you trust, and his expert advice will help make this process easier.

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