How to Build a Deck

how to build a deck and what to expect from a deck contractor. cartoon image of deck contractor holding a saw.

How to Build a Deck & What to Expect During a Professional Installation

If you’re ready to get your brand new deck installed, you’re probably wondering how to build a deck. The process will vary depending on how much prep work you need to do, the size of your deck, and the materials used. Regardless of the specifics, you can expect it to be a multi-day project with several steps. If you want to know what to expect during your deck installation, keep reading and feel prepared for your next big project!

Table of Contents

How to Build a Deck

Obtain Permits

The first step on this list is a not so fun one – getting all your planning and permits in accordance. There are certain rules, laws, and restrictions that you need to follow. These ensure that your deck is built up to code and you avoid any trouble down the line. This is especially true if you live in a subdivision or area that has specific rules and regulations.

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The first thing that you need to do is check your local building codes. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that local building codes may not be the same as national building codes, so you will want to check both. Secondly, local building codes may require you to hire a professional to perform an inspection of the job. One of the costs that you need to consider when planning to build your deck is the cost of hiring an inspector.


Some of these requirements may seem very costly, but they are the rules.  You’ll have to abide by them if you want to get a permit to build your deck.


*Shameless self promotion: hiring a professional deck installation contractor like Clear Choice Contractors will streamline all this for you.

Site Preparation

The first step to getting your backyard ready for contractors is clearing out any obstacles so they can get started as soon as they arrive. This includes taking any furniture or debris out of the area, and raking up leaves and sticks if necessary. You also need to make sure the soil is level, prepped, and there are no underground obstructions.

A good deck installation contractor will do all the heavy lifting, but clearing out your personal items from the area will help speed your deck installation along.

Footings & Postings

The next step in the deck installation process is crucial – installing the footings and postings.

First, the deck contractor will place the footings to spread the deck’s weight out over the ground. Footings are usually made of pressure treated wood, or some sort of concrete, and they’ll be placed in a specific technique known as a post and beam method. The deck installation contractor must level everything out so that the footings go in “plumb and level”, so that the deck will be, well, level and plumb.

Then, your deck installation contractor will install the piers so that the weight is transferred into the soil. After that, holes will be dug for the wood posts and concrete will be poured in to anchor it all together.

Joists & Beams

After installing footings and postings, the deck will be framed and the deck contractor will install the joists to support the deck. The framing will be covered with wood or composite material. For example, when installing a composite deck, the deck builder will begin by laying out the joists and they will be attached to the beams. Then, they will put down the decking fasteners and the deck boards.

Railings, Steps, Lights, & Finishing Touches

This is the home stretch, but it’s not time to put down your tools yet!  Once you’ve got the the deck itself installed, the deck contractor will put in the railings, stairs, and posts to finish it off. It’s the small things like this that take your new deck from “meh” to “wow”!

The last big step is to add a layer of finishing material. A composite decking material like Trex or PVC won’t need much of anything. However, if you are building a wood deck, stain is applied over the wood of the deck to add beauty and durability. You’ll have a couple options for finishing materials and your installer will be able to guide you in the right direction.

deck lighting

Does building your own deck sound like a lot?

It is!  A poorly installed DIY deck can be a safety hazard and never-ending money pit.  If you’re not 100% confident in your deck building skills, give us a call.  We’d love to hear from you!

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Plymouth, MI 48170

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