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Midwest Deck Build Pt.2

Part 1|

This is part three of our deck build series, where we will be installing deck boards. This step comes after we have set our footings and framed the deck. Now, we will lay down our decking and complete the rim board. We'd like to mention that we design and build post frame barndominiums all over the country. If you're interested in designing your own barndominium, garage, shop, or any other structure, you can check out our website and we'll be happy to assist you. As a self-builder, another option to consider is joining our Patreon group. By becoming a patron, you gain access to a community of fellow self-builders. We discuss various building topics every month and often feature special guests. It's a great resource for learning the dos and don'ts of building your own barndominium.


Deck tape

Starting this project can be challenging, and it's essential to ensure you begin with a square layout. The manufacturer of our composite decking recommends starting from the outside edge and working your way in. This approach is suitable if you're using treated lumber decking boards because it allows you to rip the last piece. However, we chose to have a full piece along the house. We plan to incorporate three picture frames on the deck. A picture frame is essentially a box. We'll begin at the house and work our way toward the edge.


To accommodate the design we have in mind, we've left the joists long. This will allow us to determine precisely where we need to cut to install the outside rim board. This approach ensures that we have the correct overhang for our composite decking. We prefer a slight overhang for aesthetic reasons.


Installing deck boards DIY

Our plan is to start by squaring up the middle section and then work our way out to figure out where we need to cut the joists. We'll snap a line, cut them, and install the end rim board. Then we'll proceed to the other outside section. It's crucial to maintain alignment as we go along. Additionally, we'll have a double picture frame on the two inside portions to accommodate the length of the deck, which comes in 12-foot lengths. This way, we gain an extra foot.


There are two outlet boxes that weren't raised high enough, so we notched the deck board to accommodate them. We can use matching caulk if the cuts aren't perfect. Avoiding exposing the bottom is essential, as the outlet boxes are made of OSB, which can rot when exposed to moisture. We've also applied deck tape on top of all the boards to prevent moisture from accumulating on the floor joists. This rubber barrier is self-sealing, ensuring that water won't damage the boards when it gets underneath.


To maintain a straight line, we've used a Stabila layout laser. We'll use this as our guide to lay the first course and build from there. The screws we've used are color-matched and placed in the middle of each board. We've utilized the Versaclip FastenMaster system to connect the boards. For the first board without a groove, we've used starter clips that need to be screwed in, and for the rest with grooves on both sides, we've employed double-sided clips.


When placing the boards in the middle section, we've used a 2x4 on one side where the picture frames will be, ensuring a straight line. On the other side, we'll have to cut a straight line.


We've marked the lines on top and down the sides of the boards at the ends so we can cut off the excess. After cutting, two more boards will fit perfectly with a half-inch overhang, and then we'll install the rim board.


Here's a handy tip for decking: use joist runners. They not only help with board installation but are particularly useful when installing the decking.


How to install deck boards

After completing the first section, we've measured from the edge groove to the next, marked the measurements with our laser, and ensured straight lines. For the side sections, we've used a 2x4 on the outside for alignment. On the side with the picture frame, we'll leave them long, snap a line, and cut them with our saw.


We've cut the two picture frame boards to fit and still need to run boards across the bottom and sides. For the framing boards, we've chosen to screw them every 16 inches.


To summarize this deck project, it's 12 feet wide and almost 40 feet long, divided into 12-foot sections with a double linear break or picture frame. We've used composite decking from Lowe's with a hidden fastener system. The framing consists of 6x6 posts and beams with spacing just under eight feet and 2x10 joists at 16 inches on center, including blocking down the middle of the joists.



Part 2|


This marks the final part of our deck construction project, where we will be focusing on installing the deck railing and building the stairs leading from the deck. But before we dive into that, we'd like to mention that we specialize in designing and constructing custom barndominiums. If you have any plans for designing your own barndominium, shop, garage, or any other structure, feel free to reach out to us. We have experience in designing buildings across the country. Additionally, we have a self-build Patreon group that serves as a community of self-builders. In this group, we discuss various building topics, answer questions, conduct live sessions, and invite special guests to touch on various subjects related to self-building.


DIY deck stairs

Let's begin with the construction of the stairs. We've placed two deck perma columns to support the base of our stair stringers. The first step is to determine the rise and run for the stairs. If you don't have a laser, you can use a level that overhangs, or simply acquire a laser. We used a couple of 2x10s to attach our stair stringers. Initially, we set the outside stair stringers and followed up by setting at least one or two in the middle.


We've laid out our project details on a piece of wood, indicating a 28-inch overall rise and a 34.5-inch run, which provides us with a seven-inch rise for each step and an 11.5-inch run—both comfortable dimensions for stairs. After mapping it out, we marked our stair stringers and proceeded to cut them.


Barndominium deck

For this project, I forgot my stair gauges, so I had to go the old-fashioned route. I created a template from a piece of wood and used it to mark my stair stringers. You can use plywood, 2x2, or any available material. On the board, we marked our rise and run, struck the angle, and left an inch and a half for attaching a block that holds it on the edge of the stringer, facilitating tracing.


Keep in mind that adding a tread to the stairs raises the rise, as our treads are one inch thick. To keep the bottom step consistent, we had to subtract the thickness of the tread. The maximum permitted variation for stairs is ⅜ inch, so it's crucial to ensure your stairs remain within this limit. After preparing everything, we added a ledger board for the stringers to sit on, providing extra strength. Notching the tops of the stringer boards is also important so they can rest on the ledger board. We attached and screwed in those stringers and then added four more in the middle. Using a circular saw, we hand-cut the boards and laid them in place.


Deck railing install

Moving on to the aluminum deck railings, we marked a line for our screw holes to align with the ledger board. These screws anchor into the ledger board, and we added a block for the other screws to secure to. The railing we used is the Williams Aluminum Railing, which comes in pre-assembled railing panels. You'll need to purchase the posts, trim kit, and other necessary components. We opted for eight-foot sections, although six-foot sections are also available.


Small brackets were screwed into the edges of the posts, with dimensions provided on the packaging. We slid the railing on first, followed by sliding the post onto the railing and securing them. When using the screws, a block is needed for the inside screws. It's important to ensure that your trim pieces fit, and you can use washers or shims under the posts to ensure they are plumb and not leaning in any direction.


Next, we added the top and bottom trim pieces, attached the center supports, and the post bases, which serve as covers. Finally, we placed the caps on top of the posts. We used a Kreg Jig to create screw holes on both sides of the block so that it could be attached and screwed to the joists.


DIY deck build- barndominium

For the stair railings, we had about a half-inch gap between the corner of the stairs and the bottom of the railing. We ran a 2x4 along the stair noses to ensure they were perfectly aligned. When the posts are plumb, we clamped the rail and marked them before cutting and attaching them. To add a finishing touch, we picture-framed the stairs, a small detail that made a significant difference.


The railing for this project was purchased at Menards, and the overall installation process was relatively simple, with the only challenging part being the angle cuts.


Thanks for joining this journey,

MR Post Frame






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