Before you start

Things to Think About

  • Budget
  • Goal/purpose of your finished project - expanded living space, entertaining, private retreat
  • Size and shape
  • Location - terrain of area, slope grade, rain flow
  • Placement - accessibility (point of entry)


  • Call 811 for underground utilities (water, gas, sewer)
  • Check with homeowners' associations, insurance and municipal code officials on building, permits, inspections and existing requirements
  • Check the depth of the frost line in residential area

Tools Checklist

  • Circular Saw

  • Hammer, Nail gun/Screw Gun (rentable)

  • Posthole Digger / Power Auger (rentable)

  • Circular Saw / Mitre Saw (rentable)

  • Wheelbarrow

  • Framing Square

  • Mason Line with String and Plumb Bob

  • Tape Measure

  • Level or String Level

Material Checklist

  • Tube Forms
  • Treated Riser Boards (if needed)
  • Joist Hangers
  • Post Anchors
  • Gravel
  • Treated Stair Stringers (if needed)
  • Treated Stair Treads (if needed)
  • Post Caps
  • Treated Railing Boards
  • Treated Shims
  • Treated Posts
  • Treated Balusters
  • Ecolife Treated Deck Boards
  • Approved Deck Screws and Nails
Video Step-by-Step Instructions Available at Lowe's
Planning Your Residential Wood Deck
Building A Deck1

Sketch a plan

  • Consider deck features (lighting, heating – fireplace, built-in seats, awning/pergola etc.).
  • Allow room for obstacles (exterior AC units, windows).

Safety first

  • Gloves, goggles and mask
  • Work boots
  • Outdoor appropriate GFCI-protected power cords
Building Your Wood Deck
Building A Deck2

Prepare site and house (if deck is attached to house)

  1. Mark the deck area.
  2. Strip sod.
  3. Remove siding, add waterproof layer and mount ledger board (use flashing to reinforce waterproofing)
  4. Mark placement of joists on ledger board.
  5. Locate, dig (12” below frost line to avoid shifting due to cold weather) and pour footings (quantity depends on size, shape and weight of deck) after inspection is done.

Install deck

We recommend using Ecolife treated deck boards and Preserve treated wood substructure from 84 Lumber, Lowe's or independent lumberyards in your area.

  1. Treat cut ends of boards with a brush-on wood preservative, copper naphthenate formulations, available from home centers, lumberyards and hardware stores. Deck stains and sealers do not provide adequate protection.
  2. Set posts and install beams and joists.
  3. Lay down deck boards and trim edges.
  4. Build or install pre-made stairs (if needed).

Install railing

  1. Required for decks above 30” from grade in the US.
  2. Mount posts and attach top/bottom deck rails.
  3. Install balusters (maximum 4” space between each baluster for safety).
  4. Attach railing cap and post caps (optional).

Diagram courtesy of

Finish deck when wood is dry

  1. Stain
    1. i. Clear – allows grain to show
    2. ii. Semi-transparent (or opaque) – imparts some color tinting but keeps grain visible
    3. iii. Solid – covers the grain like paint, may chip and peel in time
  2. Paint – unlimited color options and covers the grain, may chip and peel in time
  3. Waterproof sealant - not needed for up to three years using Ecolife - Stabilized Weather-Resistant Wood
Tips for Proper Installation
Laying Decking 2 90
  1. Butt deck boards tightly as shrinkage will naturally occur as the wood dries out.
  2. Drill pilot holes to minimize splitting when nailing near the edge/end of the boards.
  3. Always use the best-looking side of a deck board, nailing thinner boards to thicker boards.
  4. Use building code-approved, hot-dipped galvanized stainless-steel fasteners to prevent corrosion of the fasteners.
  5. Use a brush-on wood preservative (copper naphthenate formulations) for cut ends; deck stains and sealers do not provide adequate protection.
Recommended Products
Ecolife and Preserve CA logos

Use Ecolife treated wood for above ground treated wood that is six inches or more of the ground. Ideal for decking, railing, joists and beams.

Use Preserve CA (copper azole) treated wood for ground contact applications, ideal for posts in or on the ground, stair stringers and any treated wood use that would be hard to repair or replace.

Find Ecolife and Preserve CA treated wood near you.

Tips for Proper Finishing

Allow wood to dry thoroughly before applying a finish (stain or paint) or sealer to prevent peeling, flaking or blistering from poor adhesion and/or mold development under the coating. Wood should be allowed to dry until it will absorb water, typically around 60 days (potentially longer for wetter climates). Left unstained, wood decking will eventually fade to a gray appearance and damage to wood fibers may occur from UV rays.

  1. Ensure surface is clean and dry to prevent poor bonding/penetration of finishing products.
  2. Use high-quality stains and paints that are specifically intended for your specific application to help minimize fading and reduce the likelihood of fabric / skin / footwear discoloration.

Safety Handling Practices

Pressure-treated wood has chemicals impregnated deep into the fibers. They should always be handled properly to ensure safety. Follow the safe practices listed below when working with pressure-treated wood. Specific work practices may vary depending on the environment and safety requirements of individual jobs.

  • Wear a dust mask and goggles when cutting or sanding wood.
  • Wear gloves when handling wood
  • Wash hands thoroughly with mild soap and water after working with treated wood.
  • Wash work clothes separately from other
  • Pressure-treated wood should not be used where it may come into direct or indirect contact with drinking water, except for uses involving incidental contact such as fresh-water docks and bridges.
  • Do not use pressure-treated wood in circumstances where the preservative may become a component of food, animal feed or beehives.
  • Do not use pressure-treated wood for mulch.
  • All sawdust and debris should be cleaned up and disposed of after construction.*
  • Do not burn pressure-treated wood.*

*Pressure-treated wood may be disposed of in landfills or burned in commercial or industrial incinerators or boilers in accordance with federal, state and local regulations.