Project Guide

How to Build a Raised Deck

Lay Out Footings and Attach the Ledger Board
A man lays out the footings for a raised deck.
  • Use batterboards and mason’s string lines to lay out footing locations for a deck that is 24 feet long and 14 feet wide. 
  • Attach a 2 x 12-inch ledger board to the house to establish the deck position. This deck structure is 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: 12-14 hours. Time includes removing siding and attaching the ledger.

Tip: Always be sure to wear proper safety gear. 

Dig Holes for Footings and Set in Concrete
A man digs holes in a backyard.
  • Using a power auger, dig 48-inch deep holes for seven 12-inch diameter footings. A standard single-level raised deck needs only four footings parallel to the house, but the extra footings are necessary on this deck to handle the additional weight of the roof and future remodeling project structures. 
  • Flare the bottom of the center footing in the row parallel to the house to 24 inches. 
  • Flare the remaining footings to 18 inches. 
  • Mix forty-four 60-pound bags of ready-mix concrete in a portable power mixer. 
  • Install and align anchors for 6 x 6-inch posts after the concrete has cured for 48 hours. 

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

Plumb and Brace the Posts
6 x 6 posts are braced in position.
  • Plumb and temporarily brace the 6 x 6-inch posts in place. 
  • Trim post tops to the proper height after positioned. Using a level, establish trimming lines that are level with the bottom of the ledger. 
  • The beam supported by the posts will have joists attached to its inner face. 

Estimated time: 6-7 hours.

Build Beams on Top of Posts
A man wearing safety gear attaches beams.
  • Build a 24-foot beam made of doubled 2 x 12 boards on top of the row of posts parallel to the house. 
  • Attach beams to the tops of the posts using adjustable post caps. 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. 
  • Build in place the extra beams 14 feet long. The remaining length of visible ledger will support the landing at the top end of the stairs. 
  • Attach the end of the adjacent 14-foot beam to the ledger with a double joist hanger. 

Estimated time: 7-8 hours.

Install the Joists
A close-up shot of joists attached to deck.
  • Install 14-foot long 2 x 12-inch joists. The large size of the framing on this deck accommodates the future remodeling. 
  • Use joist hangers to attach joists to the ledger and beam header joist. 
  • Fasten blocking pieces between joists in the middle of the span to prevent twisting of the joists. 
  • Most of the temporary bracing can be removed after joists are installed. 

Estimated time: 8-9 hours.

Install the Decking
A person installing decking boards.
  • Attach five 4 x 6-inch decking boards perpendicular to the joists and fasten with deck screws. No additional blocking is necessary because seams between boards should be centered over joists. 
  • The seams should be staggered between adjacent rows of decking for best appearance. 

Estimated time: 7-8 hours.

Locate Footings for Stair Landings and Set in Concrete
Footings are built in place for stair landings.
  • Mix thirty-two 60-pound bags of concrete in a portable power mixer for this step. 
  • Make one 12-inch diameter footing for a 6 x 6-inch post to support the upper landing. 
  • Make four 8-inch diameter footings for 4 x 4-inch posts to support a small transition landing in the stair run. The stair run will make a 90-degree turn at the landing to end on the 4 x 4-foot pad. 
  • Pour this pad 4 inches thick. 

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

Tip: Locate the footings for the stair landing and pad after the main deck platform is built, as it is more accurate to measure when done relative to an existing deck structure.

Install Post Anchors and Frame the Landings
Constructed stair runs.
  • Attach post anchors to the footings. 
  • Plumb posts and install the framing for the landings. 
  • Attach decking to the joists. 
  • Check calculations for the stair runs and make stringers for the stairs. 
  • Build the upper and lower stair runs in place. 

Estimated time: 16-18 hours

Tip: The landing could be replaced by another deck level, if desired.

Locate Rail Posts and Install
A raised deck with railings almost completely installed.
  • Calculate railing post locations and install the railing posts. 
  • Notch posts and attach to the outside of the perimeter framing and stringers. 
  • The two posts at the bottom end of the upper stair run should be longer than other posts because they also serve as posts for adjoining railings – this will save the time and money of installing two additional posts. 

Estimated time: 12-14 hours.


Don't worry if you don't own all of the tools needed to complete this DIY project. Rent tools and trucks for any project at The Home Depot.