DIY Deck Building 101: 7 Mistakes To Avoid


Having a deck on your property can help improve its curb appeal and extend your living space. If it’s something you eagerly want, but you have a tight budget, you might want to consider building your own deck instead. 

DIY deck building helps you achieve what you want for your property and saves you money. Since you won’t have professional help, you need to be extra careful with how you get things done.

Apart from choosing between PVC vs composite decking, there are more things you need to worry about. To avoid inconveniences and a possible do-over, listed below are some mistakes to avoid with DIY deck building:

1. Not Getting Local Approval

One of the first things you need to worry about when building a deck is securing council approval for your property. This helps make everything legal and well-coordinated, as you’ll be advised about what kind of decking your property can have. 

While skipping the permit is possible, it can lead to bigger issues once your local government finds out and decides how your deck should look, putting every effort to waste. The worst-case scenario is they might be forced to tear your deck apart, as you’re not following the city codes, along with getting a permit for your deck. To avoid such inconveniences, you should get council approval first.

2. Choosing The Wrong Plank Material 

Just like with any other material, different plank types have various purposes for your home. Apart from worrying about building the foundation of your deck, you also need to consider what kind of plank you’ll be using. That’ll help to complete the aesthetics of your house. You need to choose the perfect type that’s durable while also complementing your exterior’s appearance. 

There are two main types of planks you can choose from: wood and composite decking boards. While there are many pros and cons of each, going with composite has been proven to be a better option as they’re more durable and greater for long-term use. 

However, they can be quite expensive, which might defeat the purpose of why you’re DIY-ing. But if it’s something you’d like to splurge on, go ahead. Alternatively, going with wood is still a good option as long as you maintain the planks well to keep them in their best shape. 

Moreover, you also need to consider the environment you’re living in and see which material would best suit your temperature.

3. Not Giving Your Deck Enough Support

Your deck’s main support would come directly from the side of your house. The best way to make it happen is by using a ledger board that you’ll directly screw to your home and give enough support and foundation for your deck.

However, you need to consider it as just your main support and not your only support, as you’ll still need to add post footers to accommodate the size of your deck and its edges. 

Since you’re relying on your house for maximum support, you need to attach them well to avoid inconveniences and possible accidents. Attaching it directly to the siding can cause chaos as there’s a high chance it’ll fall off, especially since it only has minimal support from your home. 

To guarantee secureness, you should first remove all siding, house wrap, and foam insulation on the side of the wall. Then, allow your ledger board to attach directly to the rim joist. 

4. Building Few Deck Post Footers

Since your deck would be elevated from the ground, it needs to get as much support as it needs to ensure everyone’s safety. Apart from the support you’ll get from ledger boards, you’ll also need to use deck post footers to support and hold the weight of the rest of the deck. This helps guarantee stability and everyone’s safety on the deck. 

Ideally, your deck post footers should be sitting on top of a stable surface to ensure their security. The footers should be in undisturbed soil. Otherwise, it might run deep—up to 48 inches—which can cause the deck to collapse. Moreover, you also need to be aware of your area’s frost line and attach your footers just below it. 

5. Using The Wrong Fasteners

You’ll need to use fasteners to keep your deck in place. They hold all of the support together and ensure that it won’t fall off, providing stability to your deck. With that, you can imagine the horror you’ll have to deal with when using the wrong fasteners for your deck. They’ll just bring major problems to your property. 

To guarantee the safety and stability of your deck, you should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines about what kind of fasteners you should use for your wood. You should also know how to install them properly on your deck, as there’s no point in using the right materials when they’re incorrectly installed. 

6. Skipping The Handrails

If you’re extending the deck to your backyard, you’ll need to add steps to allow for a smooth transition. However, if your deck isn’t high enough and you’ll only need to add a few steps to it, it might be tempting to skip the handrails. 

Even if they feel like something you won’t need, it’s still best to add handrails to your deck, no matter how low your steps are. Skipping the handrail can still cause an accident in case of unfortunate scenarios. Even if they’re just three or four steps, missing out one step can cause a person to tumble over without any support to stop them from falling. 

To prevent this from happening, adding handrails would be a better and safer option. You can match them with your railing to complete the home’s aesthetics. 

7. Delaying Waterproofing

While it might be tempting to wait until you’re finished with building your deck before you waterproof, this can cause more damage to your property than save time and money. As soon as you lay your wooden planks on your deck, you must provide a waterproofing solution immediately. 

Since your wood is now exposed to environmental factors, it can be more prone to damage even during the hottest summer night. To ensure the quality and longevity of your deck, you should waterproof all materials immediately. 


Building your own deck isn’t a walk in the park. Luckily, knowing the seven common mistakes above will help you identify the things you should prioritize and never do to build your deck. While some might require more hard work, it’s a part of building your deck, which will benefit you in the long run. When everything is complete, you’ll be elated with how your deck turned out.


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