Lee Roy Jordan Lumber

Deck-Building Mistakes to Avoid

You know what would look fantastic behind your house?  A  deck! You’ve got the perfect backyard for it, and perhaps you’ve always wanted to try your hand at some woodworking.

These things themselves are already a great reason to look into this valuable addition to your backyard space.

In this article, we will discuss how to avoid the most costly and time-consuming deck-building mistakes by making sure you get the job done right.

We will also unpack a few caveats any savvy home owner wants to bear in mind before embarking on this project. Adding a quality deck, as we said, will increase that property value.

There’s almost no reason not to do it! But there are certainly a few ways to do it wrong.


One of the first steps in any sort of endeavor should be gathering information. Don’t jump in half-cocked just because your neighbor said it was easy and you watched one YouTube video!

Call a contractor and have them come by for a consultation or take pictures and diagrams to them or a code enforcement office and get a pair of professional eyes on your plan.

If someone is good at what they do, they really enjoy helping others find success. The contractor or code enforcement office can, at the very least, line you out on what you should not do. Sometimes that’s just as good as knowing exactly what to do.

Plus, odds are you’re going to be required to purchase a permit or two. Don’t try to sneak around that one. The last thing you want is to be out hammering and drilling and cutting all day, only to have code enforcement come and shut you down for not having the right permits,

A professional is able to help you think about things you didn’t know to consider. There’s only going to be about a million of those. To. pay the consultation fee, listen to his advice, and do what he says, you’ll save yourself a whole lotta trouble. When you are ready to start cutting and hammering, you’ll be swinging that hammer and cutting that wood with some professional knowledge.

When you talk to the code guy, prioritize finding out the safety features that you’re required to implement,. Then ask about going beyond your scope, to see if you can afford the safety features of a bigger, higher-risk project.

You’ll be wise to at least consider this.

If you’re gonna spend your time building it, how sick would it make you if that deck was the reason someone got hurt, or worse yet, sued you because they’re clumsy? Consider the railing, even if you’re only a few feet off the ground. Safety features of a deck can actually present as distinguishable, unique, and stylish if they’re planned and implemented the proper way.


Don’t skimp on your material! The wrong material can have you doing repairs more often than you get to relax on your deck in three to five years.

If we’re gonna take the time to do the rest of this the right way, why not go in for the more expensive hardwood instead of the bench seat no one sits on…ever. -Or the lights that cost extra because they match the door knob on the back door?

Get some quality material. The longer that deck lasts, the more family moments you’ll have to cherish, and the more accomplished you will feel.

This “little project” can be a huge morale boost or a huge headache!

Don’t stop at the wood. Do yourself a favor and double-check to make sure you’ve got the best fasteners for the project, as well as other important decking accessories that take it from good to great. By doing this, you’ll save yourself from having to take all your side rails off to reattach 3 floor boards every other year, trust me.

gazebo detached deckCONSTRUCTION

There are some critical components of this deck that need to be properly constructed to protect its structural integrity, other structures and property, and your wallet!

Hopefully your consult will cover these critical points:

  • Importance and factors of having the proper footers,
  • The do’s and don’ts of the girder,
  • How to determine joist spacing and why that matters,
  • How to secure the deck to your house, on the opposite end of those proper footers.

The thing is, these components can create costly  goof-ups without the proper know-how. This is a place to relax, not a place to resent. Hey, we already sprung for that Tigerwood – why not build with the attention to detail that matches your distinct deck?

With your footers, make sure you dig down to undisturbed soil, somewhere between 24 and 48 inches. you don’t want these cement pillars to shift on you and let half your supporting components fail.

And no, cement is not just cement. Watch the contractors, get the cement they get and mix it properly. Make sure your footers are at least an inch above the ground to keep them high and dry. And make sure you’re thinking of winter time: get those footers 12 inches below the frost line.

Now, remember that ledger board, if you anchor the deck to your house- you know, that thing on the end of your deck.  Most people don’t think about this, and simply throw in some lag bolts and think,“ They screwed in,  so we’re good….”

Not so fast my friend. Cut away the siding, insulation, and house wrapping or tar paper. Fasten that ledger board directly on the rim joist. You’ll thank me when your deck stays where it’s supposed to be for the next 25 years.

Read more about How to Build a Detached Deck if that is your preference.


Don’t get lazy just because the project is nearly complete! Make sure your joist spacing is where it’s supposed to be. Hardwood and composite wood have different requirements and for good reason. When building your deck, you don’t have the luxury of a sub-floor like they did when they built your house.

And another thing, don’t get sloppy with your  girder! Notch out your support posts or get some metal column caps, and make sure you get galvanized fasteners. It’s details like this, just like the stripping of that Tigerwood, that sets your deck apart.


Do some research as to when the proper time to apply that weather seal. Depending on the wood you chose and depending on the style of treatment you’re wanting to use, you might want to bust out that weather seal as soon as all the saw dust settles. Or you might want to wait a couple weeks.

Don’t guess, don’t trust some “know it all”, that showed up at the same time as the blister on your impact trigger finger. Know your decision, and why you made it.

Deck building needs to be done correctly to avoid costly errors. Things that last, they’re put together a certain way. The right way is rarely the easy way, but the right way sure looks good under your feet.



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