Do-it-yourself wood decks and balconies are some of the most popular home projects throughout the United States. With a little preparation, the average do-it-yourself homeowner can tackle simple and elaborate deck and balcony project. If you are planning on installing your own deck or balcony, know about the tools, materials and techniques available for a successful project completion.
Rent or purchase the following tools if you don't already have them: a circular saw with a 7 1/2-inch blade, tape measure, framing square, reciprocating saw, tool belt, hammer, 1-inch wood chisel, razor knife, drill, 4-foot carpenter's level and a 12-inch compound miter saw. You may need additional tools for your project, as these tools are general recommendations of basic necessities.
Use treated, cedar or cypress wood for your deck or balcony project. These woods will resist rot and decay and will hold up against the elements --sun, rain and snow -- longer. Always use galvanized or stainless-steel nails or screws when building you project. These nails will resist rust and corrosion -- although you should use only stainless steel on cedar to prevent staining of the wood. You will also need galvanized anchor bolts to attach the deck or balcony to your existing house rim joist. You will need five-quarter boards for the decking, 2-by-4s, 2-by-6s, 2-by-8s or 2-by-10s for framing and 4-by-4 posts.
Level the ground before you begin constructing your deck -- balconies are self-supporting and need only a solid wall onto which to attach. The ground should be within 2 foot of being level. Set your corner posts on deck blocks and square them to each other. Attach the floor framing using 3- inch screws. Space the floor framing members 12 to 16 inches apart. Double-check the frame of the deck for squareness before you attach the decking boards. After the decking boards have been attached, you will have a hard time squaring the deck. Use a 4-foot carpenter's level and a framing square to keep the entire project plumb, level and square.
Attach the framing of a balcony to the wall of your existing home. Use long 4-by-4 posts for the legs or support the balcony from underneath using angled bracing. Make sure that the bracing is well attached to the framing of your existing wall and the underside of the balcony framing. Use the same materials on the balcony as you would on a deck.
- The Very Efficient Carpenter: Basic Framing for Residential Construction?; Larry Haun; 2002.
- Residential Framing: A Homebuilder's Construction Guide; William Perkins Spence; 1993.
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