Deck 1: Raised Backyard Wood Deck

Most houses today come with a raised backyard wood deck or balcony built off the kitchen or main floor level, raised 6' or 8' off the ground. This is the best place for the family barbeque, close to the kitchen. If you own an older home and always wanted to build a raised backyard wood deck, let's get started.

I designed a raised backyard wood deck 12'x12' to use as an example.

Attaching the Raised Backyard Wood Deck to Your House

On the house side of the backyard wood deck you have the option of using a ledger board as a box joist. This board is bolted to the box joist of the house with 3/8" x 4" lag bolts with two rows every 16" apart, or using a beam with two posts right up against the house. If the ledger board is your option, the stucco or siding should be removed and the 2x8 ledger attached directly over the sheathing into the studs or existing box joist. I prefer the ledger board, myself, since it ties the raised backyard wood deck into the house preventing any movement of the deck. It is easier to prevent leaking through when the raised backyard wood deck is attached, as well. The 2x8 ledger should be kept 2" lower than the top of the existing box joist on the house. The joists are then attached to this ledger with joist hangers. Layout the joist hangers, first before drilling the lags, so they won't be in the way of the hangers.

Diagram of the elevated deck or balcony floor plan showing box joist, optional beam, floor joists, 6x6 post with measurements.

The Footings of Your Raised Backyard Wood Deck

After installing the ledger, layout the position of the footings and concrete columns of your raised backyard wood deck, keeping in mind the depth of frost. A stake in the ground or erecting batter boards are good ideas to help get the excavation square and accurate. For more info about batter boards see my article How to Build a House 2: The Concrete Foundation

Form and pour the concrete, insert the post saddle into the wet concrete, ensuring it is level. Strip the forms in a day or two and start building the posts and beams of the raised backyard wood deck. A triple beam made up of 2x10s gets pretty heavy after a few feet long. I usually build a beam like this in place, especially when working by myself.

The Posts of Your Raised Backyard Wood Deck

Get the height of the floor of your raised backyard wood deck from the ledger board on the house. The height of the posts can be calculated by leveling over from the house to the post saddle less the thickness of the beam.

Usually a raised backyard wood deck such as this has a slight drain, unless covered with a roof. Figure about 1/4" per foot, so that is 3" in 12 feet. Cut the post off another 3" for runoff.

Temporarily brace up the posts of your raised backyard wood deck to stakes driven into the ground. Nail the beam together using 3" common galvanized nails, two rows every 16" apart. Toe-nail the beam into the post, as well, according to the drawing of the raised backyard wood deck. Use a 2x4 or 2x6 cleat or scab over the joint of the beam and post, with a 45° bottom cut, nailed with 3" galvanized nails, too. Square up the beam with the house by carefully measuring the width of floor on each end and then the diagonals, making them the same length. Add further braces, if necsessary.

The Floor of Your Raised Backyard Wood Deck

Install the 2x8 floor joists of the raised backyard wood deck laying them into the hangers on the house end and 16" on centers on the beam. Toe-nail them into position on the beam from each side of the joist. Nail the outer box joist into position, tying the floor of the raised backyard wood deck together.

Use a sheathing of either 5/8" tongue and groove select plywood, if finishing your raised backyard wood deck with a vinyl decking, my choice, or with 2" decking lumber, (5/4" is acceptable, too). When nailing the sheathing to the floor of your raised backyard wood deck, place nails at 6" along the edges and 12" in the center of the sheet, using a construction adhesive, as well.

If vinyl decking is chosen for your raised backyard wood deck, to be able to make use of storage underneath, talk to your decking person. Some require a cant strip along the house, on top of the sheathing. This enables the vinyl to wrap up the vertical face of the house without an extreme bend. Other vinyl installers just bend it up the wall without a worry. My vinyl decking was installed on my raised backyard wood deck without the cant strip, to my surprise, but without a problem for 13 years. I live on the South West Coast of Canada, where the weather temperatures are not that extreme.

Diagram of two side views of a deck support with 6x6 wooden post scabbed to the deck beam on a post saddle on a concrete column and concrete footing buried to at least the depth of frost in the area.

I'll continue with how to build a deck railing for your raised backyard wood deck in my next article.

Check out these drawings and get back with me for any other questions.


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