Building a Single-Level Raised 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.


Our Installation Services Associates built this single-level raised deck and documented the steps taken in order to help you build your own outdoor living area.





Step 1: Lay out footings and attach ledger board

Lay out footing locations and attach ledger board to establish deck position

Batterboards and mason's string lines were used here to lay out footing locations for a deck that is 24-feet long and 14-feet wide. A 2x12 ledger board was first attached to the house to establish the deck position. The deck structure, including number of footings, was designed to be enclosed as a four-season porch in the near future.


Estimated time for a novice (with a helper) to lay out footing locations for this deck: 12-14 hours. Time includes removing siding and attaching the ledger.


Step 2: Dig holes for footings and set in concrete

Dig holes with power auger

Holes for seven 12-inch-diameter footings were dug. A standard single-level raised deck needs only need four footings, parallel to the house. The extra footings were necessary on this deck to handle the additional weight of the roof and future remodeling project structures. Holes were dug 48-inches deep to get below the local frost line. The bottom of the center footing in the row parallel to the house was flared to 24-inches. The remaining footings were flared to 18-inches. Footings were dug with a power auger. Forty-four 60-pound bags of ready-mix concrete were mixed in a portable power mixer. Post anchors for 6x6 posts were installed and aligned after the concrete cured for 48 hours.


Estimated time (not including curing time): 14-16 hours.


Step 3: Plumb and brace posts

Posts were Plumbed & temporarily braced

6x6 posts were plumbed and temporarily braced in place. Post tops were trimmed to the proper height after posts were positioned. Trimming lines level with the bottom of the ledger were established using a water level. The beam supported by the posts will have joists attached to its inner face.


Estimated time: 6-7 hours.


Step 4: Build beams on top of posts

Build the beams on top of the posts

A 24-foot beam made of doubled 2x12s was built in place on top of the row of posts parallel to the house. Adjustable post caps attach the beam to the tops of the posts. This beam serves as the header joist because joists will be attached to its inner face. The two rim joists are also beams on this deck because of the future remodeling. They will help carry the weight of the roof. The extra beams are 14-feet long and were also built in place. The remaining length of visible ledger will support the landing at the top end of the stairs. The end of the adjacent 14-foot beam is attached to the ledger with a double joist hanger.


Estimated time: 7-8 hours.


Step 5: Install joists

Install the joists

14-foot-long 2x12 joists were installed. The large size of the framing on this deck accommodates the future remodeling. Joist hangers attach joists to the ledger and beam header joist. Blocking pieces were fastened between joists in the middle of the span to prevent twisting of the joists. Most of the temporary bracing was removed after joists were installed.


Estimated time: 8-9 hours.


Step 6: Install decking

Decking attached perpendicular to the joists and fastened with deck screws

Five 4x6 decking was attached perpendicular to the joists and fastened with deck screws. No additional blocking was necessary because seams between boards were centered over joists. The seams were staggered between adjacent rows of decking for best appearance.


Estimated time: 7-8 hours


Step 7: Locate footings for stair landings and pad and set in concrete

Footings for stair landings and pad located

Footings for stair landings and pad were located after the main deck platform was built. Locating stair footings is more accurate when done relative to an existing deck structure. One 12-inch-diameter footing was made for a 6x6 post that will support the upper landing. Four 8-inch-diameter footings were made for 4x4 posts that will support a small transition landing in the stair run. The stair run makes a 90-degree turn at the landing to end on the 4x4-foot pad. The pad is 4 inches thick. Thirty-two 60-pound bags of concrete were mixed in a portable power mixer.


Estimated time (including making a form for the pad): 6-7 hours.


Step 8: Install post anchors and frame the landings

Install post anchors to the footing & frames for the landings

Post anchors were attached to the footings. Posts were plumbed and the framing for the landings installed. Decking was attached to the joists. Note: The landing could be replaced by another deck level on a multilevel deck if desired. Calculations for the stair runs were checked, and the stringers for the stairs were made. The upper and lower stair runs were built in place.


Estimated time: 16-18 hours.


Step 9: Locate rail posts and install

Railing post locations were calculated and posts installed

Railing post locations were calculated and the railing posts installed. Posts were notched and attached to the outside of the perimeter framing and stringers. The two posts at the bottom end of the upper stair run are longer than other posts because they also serve as posts for adjoining railings. This saved the time and money of installing two additional posts.


Estimated time: 12-14 hours.