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Building the Deck, Part I

First things first…let’s start with a before picture.


So our backyard….it’s ugly. There’s no denying it. It is so full of rocks that I’m at a complete loss at what do with them. For the last five years we’ve been picking them up and using them in landscaping, but I swear they reproduce at night when I’m not looking. Anyway, right outside our back door there was nothing. Well, not nothing…there was toys, dirt, and welcome mats (which were my sad and unsuccessful attempt to keep the dirt out of the house).

I decided that deck would significantly help our backyard, and my husband agreed to build one. His actual words were “Okay, but no one is going to sit out there, it’s too ugly.” Challenge accepted.

We started building it in July, abandoned it when Texas became an inferno in August, and just got to this stage a few days ago…

simple deck progress

Sidenote – it’s raining! Finally!

The deck isn’t finished (I’d say it’s about 60%), but it’s functional. It still needs a built-in-bench, steps, and a table and chairs, and some landscaping. And a string of outdoor lights, of course.


#wishfulthinking  (source)

Neither Adam or I had ever built a deck before, which is why this isn’t going to be a tutorial…there are plenty of deck building tutorials out there from people who actually know what they’re talking about. What you’re going to get here are pictures of us working and less than helpful commentary.

I wanted simple deck plan (just a 12×16 rectangle) and we special ordered cedar from Home depot for the decking and bought treated pine for the structural supports.

First we dismantled the failed flower bed and we smoothed out the surface (revealing mountains of limestone dust – and I though dirt was messy), then we invited people over to help us build the deck. This is a very important step, don’t skip it. Successful execution of this step may also require buying lots of beer and barbecue.

The first support the boys added was a 2×6 that was anchored into the cement foundation. It took the strength of three men to drill into the concrete…I’m sure it was the crappiness of the drill, not the strength of the men that was causing it to be so difficult. Mmmhmm…

drilling into concrete

The area under our back door sticks out a little, so it got a separate piece.


Yeah, our foundation (or  maybe it’s our door) is really crooked. I suspect the people who built our house may have overdone it on the beer and barbecue.

Next was digging out holes where the concrete blocks would go and making them level and secure. I think this was Elijah’s favorite part. That kid loves work.

little helper

Next came the beams, which the boys made by attaching two 2×6’s together to make a 4×6, and Adam had to cut the concrete blocks wider so they would fit.

cutting concrete

Then the beams went in.

building a small deck

…and Elijah continued to work.


Next came the joists, which were secured to the piece of wood bolted to the house and the two beams that run parallel to it. The ones up against the house were secured using metal brackets…

metal bracket

and the others were secured using the Kreg Jig (which is the same tool we use for building tables and other furniture.)

Kreg Jig


How cute are all those boys working? Adam’s over there in his super attractive boonie hat, Elijah is wearing his construction helmet like a responsible little worker, and my dad is patiently teaching him how to build while wearing his reading glasses over his sunglasses.

And with that we had a completed deck frame. One step closer to having a useable backyard!

deck frame

how to build a deck

Later this week I’ll have part two – laying the decking. That’s the easy part.

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  1. Yay for having a usable backyard! I think it will make a huge difference. And Elijah is very sweet with his little work ethic! :)

  2. hi , if you had used a concrete drill bit it would have been easier to drill the holes you needed .. your little Elijah is really a handsome little boy . and let him keep on helping , my little grandson is a big help to me , he is 6 but has always loved to help do things now then my son , his dad is very lazy so i am really glad my little grandson is so different last week grampa had him help take off lug nuts on wheels from boat trailer and then grease them up and put them back on the tires now off and in the shed . he helped get the boat up on jacks and concrete blocks and covered up . then he helped cut the grass sitting on lap of grampa with the tractor , he likes to steer it . acre and a half so takes a while . he came in for dinner and i asked him if he was thru outside he said yep , grama i have really bad back ache from all the hard work . so funny . took his bath and was asleep early .. looking forward to seeing next weeks pictures . my husband put up our deck and a trellis over the top looks good and has been up now 18 yrs . we had it wrapped around our pool but took out the pool last yr . all the kids grew up , moved out married , and i was not able to watch all the little grandkids and neighbor kids so its gone .and i don’t even miss it it was way too much work to keep up .

  3. Yup, too much beer does make things crooked, LOL! So cute how Elijah is standing there with his arms akimbo just like his dad, such a little man! Got a chuckle about your comment on your dad’s reading glasses…I wear mine UNDER my sunglasses…oh. the things we do as we get older!

  4. This post made me laugh this morning! Love how hard your little guy is working and I love the boonie hat but I almost spit my oatmeal out from laughter when you said your dad had his reading glasses over his sunglasses! LOL It just struck me as funny for some reason (I’m still giggling as I type this). Your lucky to have so much help and the deck is looking awesome!

  5. I totally understand the rock reproduction comments! My parents live on a little 40 acre place on Lake Travis and my dad has been piling up rocks for YEARS!! And more just appear every time he cleans up an area. But he actually has several nice little walls to mark paths through the pastures now.

  6. That’s one great looking deck! I can’t believe it took three men to drill into the concrete! I know concrete is tough stuff, but I didn’t know it was that tough! It seems like cutting the concrete was a bit easier than drilling it, so it probably was the drill that made it difficult. Congratulations on a job well done!

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