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Common Deck Building Mistakes and How to Avoid

Common Deck Building Mistakes and How to Avoid

Building a deck is a great way to add value and functionality to your home, but it's important to avoid common mistakes that can lead to costly repairs down the line. Whether you're a seasoned DIYer or a first-time builder, knowing what mistakes to avoid can help you build a beautiful and functional deck that will last for years to come. In this post, we'll discuss how you can avoid most common deck-building mistakes, including not following the manufacturer's installation instructions, using incorrect spacing, and ignoring local building codes. We'll also provide tips on how to build a deck that's safe, sturdy and built to last.

Contractor installing a Deckorators deck

Ignoring the understructure is a common deck-building mistake that can lead to serious problems such as sagging, collapsing or other structural issues. To avoid this mistake:

  • Choose high-quality pressure-treated wood and other materials that are appropriate for your local climate and building codes.
  • Consult with a professional deck builder or structural engineer to ensure that your deck's understructure is designed to support the weight and load of your deck.  
  • Ensure that the support posts are properly spaced and aligned to provide adequate support for the deck.
  • Perform regular inspections of the understructure to identify and address any signs of wear, rot, or damage. 

Ignoring local building codes is a common mistake that can lead to safety issues, legal problems, and extra expenses. Understanding and complying with your area's building codes is essential. To avoid this mistake:  

  • Check with your local building authority or municipality to learn about the building codes and regulations that apply to your area. 
  • Review and understand the requirements, including those related to safety, structural integrity, and zoning.
  • Obtain all necessary permits and inspections before starting construction and ensure that your plans and materials comply with the local building codes.
  • Seek advice from professional builders, engineers, and architects to ensure that your plans meet the local building codes and safety standards. 
  • Conduct regular inspections during construction to ensure that your work is compliant with the local building codes and regulations.

Underestimating the length of time required to build a deck is a common mistake that can lead to rushed work, mistakes, and frustration. To avoid this mistake:

  • Develop a detailed plan that includes all the steps involved in building your deck, such as permits, design, excavation, foundation, framing, decking, and finishing.
  • Allow extra time for unexpected delays, changes in plans, or bad weather.
  • Consider hiring a professional deck builder to help you with the project. They have the experience and skills to complete the work more quickly and efficiently.
  • Use pre-made components, such as railings and stairs, to save time and simplify the construction process.
  • Work systematically and avoid shortcuts. Rushing the work can lead to mistakes that may cost more time and money to correct later.
  • Be realistic about the time required to complete the project. Don't rush the work or try to complete everything in one day. Take breaks and pace yourself to avoid fatigue and mistakes.

Improperly attaching the ledger board (the board that is attached to the house that serves as the support for the deck) can lead to a number of problems, including deck collapse and damage to the house. To avoid this mistake:  

  • Make sure the ledger board is the correct size. The board should be the same width as the joists.
  • Use galvanized or stainless-steel lag screws or bolts to secure the ledger board to the house. These fasteners are resistant to corrosion and can handle the weight of the deck. 
  • Install a waterproof barrier, such as flashing, between the ledger board and the house to prevent water from seeping into the house and causing damage.
  • Make sure the ledger board is attached directly over a joist to provide adequate support for the deck.
  • Ensure the ledger board is securely attached to the house, with enough screws or bolts to provide a solid connection.


Using incorrect fasteners or hardware that isn't rated for outdoor use. To avoid this mistake:

  • Choose hardware and fasteners that are specifically designed for outdoor use and are rated for the type of wood you're using.
  • Use for stainless steel, galvanized or coated fasteners, which are more resistant to rust and corrosion.
  • Avoid using untreated or unpainted hardware, as they can quickly rust and deteriorate.
  • Don't reuse old or salvaged hardware, as they may not be rated for outdoor use or may have already been compromised by rust or corrosion.

Not following manufacturer's installation instructions. Composite decking materials are becoming increasingly popular due to their durability and low maintenance, but they do require specific installation procedures to ensure their longevity. To avoid this mistake:

  • Read and follow the manufacturer's installation instructions carefully and refer back to them frequently throughout the installation process.
  • Use the recommended tools and equipment, including saw blades, drill bits, and screws, specified by the manufacturer.
  • Use the recommended type of screws, nails, or fasteners, and ensure that they are installed at the recommended angles and depths.
  • Take steps to minimize any potential for moisture damage, such as using proper flashing, sealing the ends of boards, and ensuring proper ventilation.
  • Check the manufacturer's guidelines for cleaning and maintenance to help keep your deck looking its best.

By taking the time to carefully plan and execute your deck-building project, you can create a beautiful and functional outdoor space that you'll be able to enjoy for years to come. Remember, if you're unsure about any aspect of the project, it's always best to consult with a Deckorators Certified Pro to ensure that your deck is safe and structurally sound.

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