Why not spruce up a concrete patio by designing and building a wood deck on it? Options include
multi-level deck sections, built-in seating, storage spaces, and hand rails for safety.
This is a great DIY project for those who are inclined to save money by lowered labor costs.
If the existing concrete patio is serviceable and reasonably level the project requires minimum preparation.
A wood deck is a worthy alternative to finishing a patio with either ceramic or porcelain tile.
Home improvement stores usually stock concrete bell-bottom supports. Theyre made with brackets
attached to them. The bracket accepts the decks beams. Its easy to lay them out on the patio
to a beam spacing formula.
Deck Design and Planning
The first thing to do is to visualize the initial deck design. Next, get out pencil and paper
and figure out the lumber size and spacing. Theres a link to the math formulas for this at the bottom of this article.
Use composite or pressure-treated wood. Take time to choose only the truest stock. This article
explains the most efficient method of installing a deck on a patio.
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The Extending the Wood Deck Beyond the Patio Option
Many backyard designs work well with a larger deck than the existing cement patio. This option simply
requires a bit more labor and materials. In for a dime, in for a dollar, as the saying goes.
This requires 4 X 4 post footings and securing joist brackets to them. Be sure to use hardware with a coating appropriate to the chemicals your lumber is coated with. When
digging post hole footings, excavate in a direct
line with the bell-bottom supports on the concrete patio.
Cooperate with the Utility Companies
Use a string line for an accurate line and height. Use caution not to cut any buried telephone,
cable lines, or utilities. The responsible companies will assist in locating them.
A minimum of 1 bag of concrete for each post. They should be level with the supports laid out
on the patio or raised if the deck design is multi-level. It is critical to get the post layout square.
Keep in mind that how deep your posts go depends on where you live. In colder areas, you must go below the frost line. Check your local building codes for more info.
Attach the Floor Beams, then the Joists and Decking
By now the concrete footings are all laid out in their places. Some people simply set them on the
patio surface. Its a better idea to mark their locations with chalk and secure them with an
Next, set in the beams and secure them to the brackets. As mentioned above, only use pressure-treated
lumber or a composite material thats designed for decks. Next install the deck joists. They
run perpendicular to the beams.
After all the joists are installed and cut to length, its time to cut and nail down the decking.
Use caution not to set them too close together. Allow approximately 1/4 or whatever tolerance
the manufacturer recommends between each board. This will allow air flow and an avenue for water to
Finally, Deck Finishing
Once the basic deck construction is done, why not consider some options? Handrails are a good idea
for enhancing safety and giving it a more professional and 3-dimensional look.
Consider building benches around the perimeter. These can be simple, minimalist benches or models
that have hinged seats that allow for valuable storage space.
The last task is to protect the new deck from the elements. This is done by sealing it. Dont do
this immediately if pressure-treated wood was used. It usually needs time to dry out. A popular
option is to apply a sealer that incorporates a stain. The deck should be re-sealed periodically
but the time interval is dependent on location, materials, and finish used.