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How to build a deck: Design & planning

June 25, 2024

Building a deck can transform an outdoor space, creating a perfect area for relaxation and entertainment. To ensure your deck project is successful, it’s essential to carefully plan and design every aspect, from size and shape to materials and fasteners. This guide will walk you through the key steps in building your dream deck, making the process easy to understand and enjoyable.  The first step in this process is designing and planning your deck.  

Size & shape

There’s a lot to consider when determining the size and shape of your deck – starting with the space available and how you’d like to use your deck. The simplest decks are low to the ground, small enough to run full-length decking boards without any joints, and don’t feature complex shapes. While you can always start by sketching your design on paper, our Deck Designer can help with this process. It offers existing designs for a quick start or inspiration, or you can start from scratch. 

Select decking colors & materials 

TimberTech offers Advanced PVC and Composite deck boards. Choosing decking colors and materials will help narrow down your options, and help determine framing requirements, including how to fasten the decking to the deck frame. Order free decking samples to compare options in your outdoor space and see how the color and texture will appear throughout the day. 

Select decking fasteners

At this phase, you also will want to decide which type of fastener you’ll use. TimberTech offers three types of proven, code compliant deck fasteners. TOPLoc Advanced PVC and TOPLoc for Composite are available in colors that match our decking to create a seamless finish. CONCEALoc, EDGELoc, and FUSIONLoc are concealed, clip-style fasteners that pair with our grooved decking boards. We also offer Cortex for Advanced PVC and Cortex for Composite – these hidden fasteners are concealed by plugs made from TimberTech Decking. 

Select fascia and riser colors & material

All TimberTech Decking colors are also offered in Fascia and Riser profiles. These are used to conceal the wood framing on the deck and the deck stairs, ensuring a finished look as nice as the deck surface. We offer two types of color-matched TOPLoc Fasteners for installing either Advanced PVC or Composite Fascia and Riser boards. These fasteners are specifically engineered to keep the Fascia and Riser install looking great for years to come.   

Select railing colors & materials  

We offer a wide assortment of railings in composite, aluminum and PVC to suit different styles and budgets. Each collection offers different top rail profiles and infill options. When choosing, give special consideration to the infill (the material between the top and bottom rails), as this is the most visible part of your railing. Explore free railing samples or visit a local showroom to see displays of TimberTech Rail and find the best one for your project.  

Select footing type, framing materials & structural hardware 

When building a new deck you will need to select substructure materials. Consider if and how your deck will be attached to your house and the footer depth and requirements for your area and soil (for instance, northern climates require deeper footers due to the frost line). Poured concrete footers, galvanized hardware, and pressure treated framing lumber are the most common substructure materials, but there are real advantages to upgrading to alternative footing options and higher performance framing, like TimberTech Aluminum Deck Framing. If you are using pressure treated wood framing, TimberTech Pro-Tac Flashing and Joist Tape can extend its life by preventing water penetration. 

Plan drawings & permitting

Most new decks require a permit to build – common exceptions include decks that are only being resurfaced and smaller decks that are close to the ground and not attached to the house. Check with your local building department to understand what will be needed for your build. In some areas, drawings from a licensed engineer or architect may be required.  If this is not required in your area, you can use computer aided design software or graph paper to create plan drawings to submit for permitting. 

Create a material & tool list

Once your plan drawings are complete, you can determine the complete material takeoff required and if you have all the tools to complete your deck. (Completing a takeoff is the process of determining the quantities of materials needed – like creating a shopping list for your project.) Refer to TimberTech Installation Guides to ensure you have all the tools you need.  

Order materials, tools, & supplies 

Find your local TimberTech Dealer or Retailer to order your materials. They can also help ensure you have everything you need.  

Once you have your plan and materials, you’re ready for Step Two: Framing your deck.

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