How to Build an Exterior Plywood Deck

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Most exterior decks have dimensional lumber as their flooring material, instead of plywood. Plywood does not usually have the kind of moisture resistance needed to function as a finished surface. For homeowners intent on building a plywood deck, however, marine plywood -- which has a much greater resistance to moisture than regular plywood -- makes a serviceable decking material. It comes in 4-by-8 panels, holds paint and stains well. Although more expensive, its increased durability makes up for the extra expense. Building a floating deck with a foundation of precast concrete makes construction much easier.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Nail
  • String
  • Wood stake
  • Tape measure
  • Concrete block
  • Carpenter's level
  • Boards, 2-by-6
  • String level
  • Drill
  • Deck screws
  • Gravel
  • Marine plywood
  • Circular saw

Layout

  • Measure out the deck width against the side of the house with a tape measure. Tack a nail to each mark and wrap a string around it.

  • Measure the length of the deck straight out from the nail, and place a wooden stake. Repeat for the other side.

  • Connect the strings on the nails to the stakes. Pull the string taut and wrap it around each stake.

  • Run another string line between the two wooden stakes.

  • Measure the two diagonals inside the string rectangle. Ensure that the measurements match.

Blocks

  • Set a concrete block on the ground 13 1/2 inches inside one of marks on the house. Repeat for the other mark. Place a 2-by-6 support board on the divot of each block. Ensure the board aligns with the marks on the house. Check the joist for level.

  • Place a concrete block at each wooden stake. Set a 2-by-6 support between the blocks. Check for level. Run a string line between the support boards next to the house and the ones you just installed. Check for level with a string level.

  • Have a helper position a 2-by-6 end joist against the ends of two support boards. Fasten the joists by drilling 2 1/2-inch deck screws through the joists and into each support board. Repeat for the other side.

  • Join the interior joists to the end boards. Space them 16 inches apart. Screw them in place with deck screws.

  • Set the interior concrete blocks under the joists. Space them in rows about 2 feet apart. Ensure the joists fit comfortably in the divot. Remove soil or add gravel to achieve this, if necessary.

  • Check for level. Remove soil or add gravel to obtain level.

Deck

  • Apply a plywood panel to the corner of the framing. Place it flush against the support board and the end joist. Fasten in place by drilling deck screws about 6 inches apart through the plywood and into the joists and support board.

  • Place the next panel in position. Fasten it to the deck with screws at every joist and the support board.

  • Continue fastening the deck panels as you did the first two. Cut end panels to length with a circular saw.

Tips & Warnings

  • Paint or stain your finished deck for a more attractive look.

References

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