Preparing your Site for a Deck

Preparing your site for a deck

You are planning on building a deck in your backyard, so what do you need to do? When preparing your site for a deck the first thing to consider is the materials you will be using to construct your new deck. Are you planning on building a wood or composite deck, or are you installing a stone deck? Is that stone deck being installed using traditional installation techniques or are you using some of the innovative products out on the market?

The first thing to take into account when preparing your site for a deck is whether your municipality or region require any permits. This really will be determined by the style of deck you are planning to build, such as whether you are physically securing it to the house and the overall elevation of it. In some cases, you may be required to have an independent engineer sign off on your project. It is always best to check with your local building department to find out what is needed.

The next thing to consider when preparing your site for a deck is access to the worksite. Will you need to take down any fences, hedges, or use a neighbour’s property for access? Are there mechanical structures or utility lines that have to be considered or worked around? This is particularly applicable if using traditional installation methods of stone decks and patios that involve excavation. Depending on your access, especially when limited, you may want to consider some unique products like; Gator Base, Silca SoilGrid, Paverdeck Plank, SilcaGrate and Paverdeck. All of these products are great to use when building those tight locations.

Now that you have determined the style of deck, sorted out all required permits, and figured out how to get the appropriate materials into your worksite, the next and perhaps the most important, part of preparing your site for a deck rests with what is required for the ground under and around your new deck. There are a few key components to this including; proper drainage of accumulating water from rain or snow melt, diverting any water that is coming off the house usually by eavestroughs, and adding a granular base for moisture control.

Assuming there are no issues with your current backyard and water is able to properly drain, you may find with the construction traffic around your new deck the ground can become very compacted. This could potentially alter the topography of the ground causing water to pool or flow towards your house, as opposed to away. All that to say, you want to ensure you have a good slope away from the house and the best time to address this is before the final deck is laid.

Now that you have the proper drainage in place, you want to ensure that any water coming off your house is carried away properly as well. Your home will either have water running straight off the roof or being caught by eavestroughs. Having water running off the roof and continuously hit your deck in the same spot every time it rains, or snow melts will result in your deck being discolored or even damaged in that area. When water is directed by eavestroughs, they usually push the flow of water 3 feet away from the foundation. This typically will fall under your new deck or on top of your new patio. Having water flow across your new stone patio will cause the polymeric sand to wash away over time, as well as discolour the stones in that area. Having water continuously flow under the base of the deck in the same spot will eventually wash away the slopes you created and can cause damage to any footings nearby.

Adding a gravel base under the deck may not seem so important when preparing your site for a deck, but it helps the area under the deck to dry out quicker, helps with water flow and makes for an uncomfortable bedding area for any critters that may want to call your new deck home.

Preparing your site for a deck can require additional considerations, depending on the design and any other mitigating factors. The ones covered here are the basics that can be applied and should be considered for most deck builds. Welcome to the Deck Revolution.