Ultimate Guide to DIY Decking: Step-by-Step Installation Tips

Unlock the potential of your outdoor space with a beautiful new deck! Read our expert guide to get a step-by-step guide to build a deck yourself.
Renee Lewis
Renee Lewis
Last Update:
February 8, 2024

Did you know installing a new deck can actually be a great DIY project? It is becoming increasingly popular among homeowners due to advantages like cost savings and customization options. When you are doing the designing and installing, as long as you follow your local building codes, you can make your deck look however you like! Do keep in mind though that DIY decking does require specialized tools and some knowledge of how to use them. If you are not comfortable using a saw, for example, this DIY project might not be right for you, but it is within reach for many beginner DIYers. However, if it is really not for you, you can always talk to a professional about deck installation!

Planning Your DIY Deck Project

Outdoor deck space offers so many benefits! It gives you a place to relax comfortably outside on a warm summer night. On top of that, it is a fantastic outdoor living space to entertain in when you do not have the space inside or simply prefer to be outside! Depending on what your plans are for the deck, you can customize the design to suit your needs. There are so many different deck designs, deck sizes, deck shapes, and configurations that there truly is a design for everyone’s home styles and preferences.

You may jump straight to wood when you think about decking materials, but there are actually quite a few different options for materials. Traditional wood decking, composite decking like trex, and PVC decking are a few examples. While PVC has the longest lifetime and is moisture resistant and mold proof, composite - a mixture of recycled plastic and wood fibers - is great for durability and long life time, but will cost more than treated wood or cedar decking.

As noted in the introduction, installing your own deck as a DIY project - no matter the material - will mean using some pretty specialized tools and supplies. The essential tools and materials list needed for a DIY deck project include:

Cutting tools, like a jig saw, miter saw, and/or table saw

Fastening tools such as a drill and your choice of fastener

Planning and measuring tools, like a tape measure, level, pencil, square, stakes, string, and a post hole digger if needed.

If you do not have any of these tools and can’t borrow them from a friend, then be sure to check out home depot or any other home improvement store to see if you could rent the tool there.

Preparing for DIY Deck Installation

Now that you have your tools and supplies rounded up, it is time to plan and measure the layout of your new DIY deck! Since you are the planner and builder, your construction skills are really the only limit on what you can do - besides local building codes and permits of course. Decide how big the dimensions of your deck will be and measure it out using stakes. Consider any sloping in your yard that you will have to account for when building and make sure you plan the deck in both a spot that you love and a spot that makes it easier to build.

Depending on the size and height of the deck, you may need to consider local building codes and whether you need to get a permit to build your deck before you begin. To do this, head over to your local City Planning department to find out if you need a permit or not, and what other regulations you may need to adhere to.

As far as planning your budget, the material you will need to pay the most attention to, and pay the most for, is the decking material. If you are looking for something more affordable, look for wood - perhaps pressure treated wood. If you have a bit more to spend and your priority is more about durability and lifespan, then look into composite decking. It costs a bit more than wood decking, but will last longer.

Step-by-Step DIY Deck Installation Guide

Now that you have your materials and tools and a plan, it is time to begin your DIY deck installation!

Step 1: Prepare the site

First, clear the area of any weeds or other obstacles. Check the condition of the soil there, and whether there are any holes that need to be leveled.

Step 2: Finish the measurements

Measure and stake the outline of your deck shape and make sure it matches your original deck plans.

Step 3: Dig the foundation

Dig holes using your post hole digger and set the posts, or alternatively, set up the concrete footings in their proper positions.

Step 4: Attach the deck elements

Attach the beams and joists using deck screws and make sure that you continuously check that everything is plumb using your level throughout the process.

Step 5: Secure the fixture

Secure the ledger boards which provide much of the support for the deck

Step 6: Cut your materials

Use a circular saw- whether pressure treated wood, composite decking or PVC - to the correct sizes to lay down the decking boards and secure them to the deck frame.

If your deck is not a ground level deck and is set more than a foot or two above the ground level, building codes will likely require you to also build a railing around the edge of your new deck.

Finishing Touches and Maintenance

When your deck is made out of pressure treated wood, or any kind of wood beams, you will want to make sure to stain or paint the wood. The reason for this is two fold: first, it will help protect the wood from moisture, UV rays and other weathering; and second, it will enhance the appearance of the wood and really add that final touch to your new deck!

Keep up with proper maintenance to get the most out of your deck. Spray it off to keep it clear of debris and other things that could impact the material of your deck. Inspect things once the deck is up and running every once in a while to make sure everything is looking good and repair as needed!


Well, that was an overview of how to do a DIY deck installation from start to finish! First, you will want to come up with a plan by asking yourself questions like: “What types of materials do I want to use?” or “What shape do I want the deck to be?” Make sure you have or have rented all of the tools that you need and try to enlist the help of at least one friend! It's also important to consider the cost of different deck materials so that you can accurately budget for your project.

Although deck installation can seem pretty complicated, when you take it one step at a time it is actually quite achievable and can give homeowners the feeling of satisfaction and the value of a well-constructed deck. New decks can enhance your backyard ambiance as well as raise your home’s value. You do not have to be a carpenter to build your own DIY deck.

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