Tag Archives: deck building


Make Deck Building Safety Priority #1

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Make Deck Building Safety Priority #1

By: Darla Grant-Braid

The temperature is warming (ever so slightly) and the sky is beautifully blue once again … spring is on the way. That means it’s time to get serious about planning backyard projects. For many Canadians, adding or repairing a deck is a top priority, with the age-old question being, should you hire a professional deck builder or build the deck yourself?

As tempting as it may be to try and build your own deck, the truth is that DIY decks can put the safety of your family and friends at risk. We spoke with Frank McGillan –Owner of Decks R Us, a renowned deck builder in Durham Region, Ontario about why safety should be the number one priority when it comes to building a deck.

Why You Shouldn’t DIY

Deck building is one of those projects that household handymen have been attempting for generations. Armed with rudimentary carpentry knowledge, a group of able-bodied friends, and usually too much beer/pop/pizza, they take on the task of building a structure intended to support hundreds or even thousands of pounds at any given time.

While it is possible for some home builders to have a working knowledge of framing and decking, there is much more involved in building a safe, reliable deck.


“Many times, there is a building code that needs to be adhered to,” McGillan explains. “Most DIYers do not know the building code and have problems later.” In fact, he suggests that certain deck repairs should be left to the professionals as well. If the repairs are structural, such as beams, framing, or railings, the safest option is to hire a professional deck builder.

Understandably, most DIY deck building projects happen in an effort to save money. Unfortunately, this can result in the exact opposite. If a DIY deck build or repair should fail, it can end up costing more money to have it corrected. Even worse, if people are injured due to the failure of that deck, it can result in legal fees, reparation for the injured party, and even emotional costs.

Hiring a Deck Builder

When you’re ready to hire a deck builder, take time to do some research. Narrow your search down to at least three deck contractors. Take a look at websites, read reviews, and browse image galleries of their past projects.

It helps to have a few questions in mind when you contract your short list of contractors. “[Be sure to ask] how many years of experience they have, and if they have an eye for detail,” McGillan says.

Mr. McGillan also says to be on the look out for one very important thing. “If they tell you that you don’t need a permit, walk away! Only decks that are 24 inches or less don’t need permits.”


Keep in mind that you’re going to be working closely with your deck builder, so be sure to access their customer service. For example, anyone looking for a deck builder in Durham will discover that Decks R Us has a strong believe in providing outstanding deck design, building, and unbeatable customer care.

“Decks R Us never asks for a deposit, and we never charge for permit drawings,” McGillan says. “When we start we stay and finish. No going from job to job.”

About Decksrus

Over the last 35 years, Frank McGillan and Decks R Us have built over 1,000 decks. They specialize in deck building an renovation, custom caps, an custom railings. To see galleries of their work and for more information, visit www.decksrus.ca.

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome


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Reno Expert: Solid Structure

Reno Expert: Solid Structure

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Reno Expert: Solid Structure

by Jim Caruk

The Do’s and Don’ts of Deck Building

If you’ve ever flown to Florida or southern California, you’ve probably noticed how many suburban backyards are dotted with pools. Here in Ontario, the recurring backyard theme is a deck. Whether they’re clad in natural wood or a composite product such as Trex, decks are outdoor extensions of our household living space. Many are simply a place to park the barbecue and a patio table but, increasingly, they’re loaded with bells and whistles that literally include a kitchen sink.

Since (most) decks don’t involve any wiring, plumbing, or overly complicated structural elements, building one is something a lot of DIYers are willing to tackle. But there are a number of common mistakes they make.

Generally speaking, if your deck meets any or all of the following conditions, you’ll need a permit:

a) The deck will be attached directly to the house

b) Will have a surface area of more than 100 sq.ft., or

c) The top of the deck boards will be two feet or more off the ground.

As part of your permit application, you’ll need to include your property survey and a drawing showing where the proposed deck will go.

Here are three key areas where DIYers—and some unqualified pros— make mistakes when building a deck.

Photography courtesy of Trex
Photography courtesy of Trex


If the top of your deck boards are two-feet or more off the ground, you’ll need a railing that’s at least 3′ high around the perimeter. (If the deck is 6′ or more above grade, the railing will need to be at least 3’6″ high.)

The gap between the vertical slats— or pickets—has to be less than four inches. The idea here is to prevent a small child from squeezing through and getting stuck.

Another option is to use glass panels. These cost more than lumber would but give you an unobstructed view of the yard.

Built-in seating along the railing can be a great way to maximize space, but keep in mind that a building inspector will measure the railing height from the top of the seats. After all, the main point behind these rules is to avoid having a child—or perhaps tipsy adult—topple over the side and get hurt.


Again, if the deck is more than two feet off the ground, you’ll need stairs with a railing that meets the above-mentioned guidelines. The stairs themselves must be between 47/8″ and 77/8″ high, and 91/4″ and 14″ deep. The key to building stairs is that each one has to be the same height and depth as all the others. If not, you’ll find yourself stumbling on any that are out of line with the others.


Even if you’re using a composite material such as Trex for your deck boards and railings, you’ll likely use natural wood for the framing. Typically, that means using pressure-treated (PT) lumber. But the chemicals used to make the wood rot- and insect-resistant can be corrosive to most building hardware. Make sure you use PT-approved screws and hangers. Also note that any framing members must be attached with nails, not screws. Screws do not have the sheer strength to support the load properly.

Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?

Email editorial@renoanddecor.com


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