What are some mistakes to avoid when building a residential deck?


Quick Answer

Generally the most common mistakes encountered when building a residential deck include using improper structural materials or hardware, using undersized supports, incorrect fastening methods, failing to address water management, and failing to acquire a permit from a local authority. Most of these common mistakes are structural, turning the deck into a safety hazard.

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What are some mistakes to avoid when building a residential deck?
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Full Answer

Failing to follow manufacturer's recommendations when determining the size and type of fasteners and hangers used in the project proves a common error. Some examples of installation errors include using half of a two-part post-to-beam connector, and installing under-size bolts in a 6-by-6 post base.

In order to prevent rot and deterioration in an exterior deck, it is necessary to use weather-resistant materials. There are special fasteners designed for use in exterior conditions. Fasteners without a sufficient corrosion-resistance rating quickly rust and fail when installed in treated lumber. Lumber should be treated to withstand the weather, and wood should be sealed to prevent water damage.

Incorrect fastening of structural components is a common mistake that comes in many forms. Improperly fastening between the deck and the house structure is quite dangerous and very common. Bolting beams to the sides of posts, splicing beams away from joints, improperly fastening handrails, and using narrow feet or piers in unstable soil are all common mistakes that make a deck unsafe.

Acquiring a permit is the most-overlooked step in building a deck, and obtaining a permit prevents most of the other common building mistakes.

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