Renovation & Design

Proper planning can speed up deck build

Entire project completed in two days

PHOTOS BY MARC LABOSSIERE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS/This brown pressure-treated deck with white aluminum picket railings offers a great outdoor space off the rear of the house. It took just two days to build.
MARK LABOSSIERE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS/The brown pressure-treated boards are placed perpendicular to the joists below, staggered in a random pattern along the length of the deck starting from the outer edge towards the backside of the house.
MARK LABOSSIERE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS/The five-foot wide staircase was positioned in line with both the existing back sidewalk and exterior back door, with matching white aluminum picket railings on either side of the staircase.

Sometimes, potential clients assume contractors can simply snap our fingers and have their new deck built instantly.

The reality is most contractors are generally booked well in advance, especially during the summer months. And secondly, co-ordinating the materials order, scheduling a timely delivery and allocating the required time for the build takes thought and planning.

That being said, this summer was quite chaotic and many custom items for my interior builds were on back order and components for a few of my outdoor projects were delivered much later than expected. This caused delays on existing job sites, creating unexpected voids in my schedule. In order to fill these gaps, my list of potential clients was reviewed and a few impromptu builds were squeezed into the mix.

Juggling job sites became this summer’s theme.

As luck would have it, one of the unforeseen delays on another job site provided two open days to build a relatively straightforward project.

The 28-by-10-foot rectangular deck was built with brown pressure-treated lumber and featured a five-foot-wide staircase and a white picket aluminum top-mounted railing along the perimeter of the deck on each side of the stairs.

The materials order was prepped and sent to Scott Schappert at Rona on Kenaston Boulevard. Once the desired delivery date was confirmed, the order was processed and the deck build was scheduled.

To complete the deck in just two days, the Thursday and Friday of the following week were set aside for the build. The lumber delivery was scheduled for early Wednesday morning. The following morning, the deck build began early. Typically, a good first day for a deck build of this size would result in finishing the main framework of the deck — including the posts, beams, joists and stair stringers. To guarantee a two-day completion of the entire deck, the top-decking also had to be installed that first day.

Could it be done?

The 2x8 ledger was first affixed to the backside of the house. Once the joist hangers were secured to the ledger, 2x8 joists were systematically placed one after another while setting the posts and laminated 2x8 beam into a level position. By midday, the framework was fully installed and the stair stringers had been placed in line with the existing back walkway and exterior door of the house. Tandem 2x6 boards were secured to the stringers at the tops of every stair, providing easy access to the top of the deck for the installation of the 2x6 top-decking surface. In a random pattern, the 16-foot top-decking boards were set along the top of the joists, starting from the outer edge. The entire top surface was eventually completed by late afternoon. With only a few fascia boards to install along the perimeter of the deck, the lumber portion of the build was achieved that first day.

Early the following morning, a quick stop at Rona allowed me to pick up the essential components to custom-build the white aluminum picket railings. The railing posts were first set into position as per the design layout and affixed to the top-decking using the lag screws provided. The top and bottom horizontal supports were then installed, one section at a time. Once the railing framework was in place, the pickets were placed along these sections, using the top and bottom picket spacers provided to ensure each picket was properly placed.

Sometime after noon, the railings were completely done. The entire deck had been completed in LESS than two days — and no one was more surprised than me. The client also seemed quite astonished his deck was ready, as promised, for the weekend.

Visualizing the steps to a build ahead of time can greatly minimize time wasted at the job site. I’ve often joked that once a project is seeded in my brain, it’s already done in my head — the physical work at the job site is merely the byproduct of familiarizing myself with the required steps — a process which greatly increases efficiency. Under these rare circumstances, everything fell perfectly into place.


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