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The 4 Biggest Mistakes Made by Deck Builders

deckWhether you’re building a simple square deck or a custom gazebo, it’s important to get it right the first time around. Any new addition is a serious investment that demands careful planning and flawless execution. Significant mistakes, whether in the design or construction phase, can leave you with a skyrocketing bill and a serious headache.

In order to maximize your chances of a trouble-free build, it helps to examine the most common mistakes made by professional deck builders. A highly experienced and reputable contractor is unlikely to commit these errors (much less saddle you with the bill), but if you’re working with a less-experienced contractor—or going the DIY route—you and your wallet may be at risk!

1. Using the wrong screws or fasteners

Decks are assembled using a number of different fasteners and hangers—and it’s extremely important to use the right hardware in the right place! Fixing pieces together with fasteners that are too weak, or nails that are too short, is a surefire way to cause structural problems in your deck. You may not notice at first, but these mistakes will make themselves known before long.

Unless you’re a pro, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of fasteners and hangers should be used at what time. Your best bet is to find an experienced and reputable contractor who refuses to cut corners. If you’re building the deck yourself, carefully following the instructions of the hardware manufacturer will minimize your chance of making this type of mistake.

2. Crooked floorboards

The benefit of a new deck is not just the functionality it adds to your home—it’s also the aesthetic value. A deck with crooked floorboards may not compromise the structural integrity of the deck in all cases, but it will make your deck (and your home) that much less attractive.

Here again, choosing your deck builder carefully makes a world of difference. Look for contractors with proven results, happy customers, and written guarantees that any flaw in workmanship will be rectified at no additional cost. DIYers should get familiar with the process of installing grid boards to make sure the correct angles and dimensions are applied.

3. Drilling or grinding metals near the deck

This is a mistake than can occur during construction or anytime after. When fragments off metal land on the timber and later become wet, you’ll often see black stains developing on the surface of the deck. This is caused by a chemical reaction between the sap in the wood and the fragments of metal. The solution, of course, is to avoid drilling or grinding around the deck. Routine sweeping is also a good preventive measure.

4. Failing to secure permits

Even you avoid the structural and technical mistakes listed above, you could be in for a rude surprise if you (or your contractor) fail to secure the necessary building permits from local and state authorities. Most home renovation projects and add-ons, including the construction of new decks, are subject to building regulations. So the first order of business, before laying a single board, is securing the necessary paperwork to make sure your project is legal. Otherwise you could face financial penalties, enforced changes to your design, or even be ordered to remove the new deck completely.

Building your deck the right way

These are only a few of the common mistakes people make when building decks; there are many others. Keep in mind that a quality deck, built to last, is not a casual proposition. Look for a qualified professional in your area, and if you’re doing the work yourself, spend ample time in the planning and design phase to avoid problems down the road.

We hope you’ve found this information insightful, and welcome your feedback in the space below.