Build a sturdy deck and you'll get years of enjoyment from it. The elements can be tough on a deck, so maintenance is key. Inspect it once or twice a year and make repairs as soon as you spot damage. This saves time and money in the long run.

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Articles: Building a Low-Level Deck

Decks are a perfect area for outdoor entertaining and outdoor relaxing. The style of deck you choose to build determines how you use your deck, as well as how you build it. Although similar in appearance, different decks can require different construction techniques.

Out Installation Services Associates built this Low-Level deck and documented the steps taken in order to help you build your own outdoor living area.

Footing positions were established around the concrete pad surrounding a pool. The low-level deck on each side of the pool is 30 feet long and 8 feet wide; 2x8 framing will be used on this low-level deck. Smaller-dimension framing requires more footings. Batterboards and mason's string lines were used to locate footing positions. Approximate time for a novice (with a helper) to lay out footing locations for each side of the deck: 7-9 hours.

Ten holes for 8-inch-diameter footings for each deck side were dug with a power auger. Each hole is 48 inches deep to get below the local frost line. Tube forms were required for the footings. Concrete was delivered by truck and pumped to the footing locations. Post anchors for 4x4 posts were installed after the concrete cured for 48 hours. Approximate time (for each side): 10-12 hours.

4x4 posts were plumbed and temporarily braced in position. A water level was used to establish post heights, and each post was trimmed to accurate length. The ground slopes away from the concrete pad so the outer posts are longer than the inner posts. Landscape rock was added to cover the area after posts were installed, but before framing was completed. Approximate time (for each side, not including ground cover): 7-9 hours.

Double 2x8 beams were built in place on top of the posts. They are attached to the posts with adjustable post caps. A 45-degree beam was installed in each corner. Decking will be attached around the deck perpendicular to the joists. The diagonal beam will support joists meeting from both directions. Approximate time (for one side, including a 45-degree beam): 10-12 hours.

2x8 rim joists and inner joists were installed. Inner joists were attached to the 45-degree beam with 45-degree joist hangers. Approximate time (for one side): 14-16 hours.

A ledger and framing for a box stair were installed. The front edge of the stair rests on the concrete pad. A 45-degree header joist was installed between box-stair sections in each deck corner. Approximate time (for one side, including the stair framing in a corner): 12-14 hours.

5/4x6 decking was installed on the deck and the box stair perpendicular to the joists. Seams between boards were staggered between adjacent rows of decking. The board ends meeting in the corner are mitered at 45-degree angles. Decking was fastened with deck screws. Approximate time (for one side, including decking on one side of a corner): 6-8 hours.

Railing post locations were calculated and posts installed. Posts were notched and attached to the outside of the perimeter framing. One post was notched to fit around each deck corner. Stair railings were not needed. Coated metal tubes were used as railing balusters. Approximate time for one side, including corner post: 7-8 hours. Total approximate time for one side: 73-88 hours.