Building a good deck is like assembling a good recipe. You want the right ingredients in the right order at the right time. Get something wrong and your deck (and brownies) could go very badly. As you are designing your ideal deck, you might feel overwhelmed by all the deck vocabulary and what it means for your deck and deck budget. We are here to help. Here is a quick rundown of some of the decking terms and ingredients you will hear as you look into designing your perfect deck:

Cooking up the Perfect Deck

(Pixabay / StockSnap)

Flashing is the material that will protect your deck and home from water. Think “flash flood” and it might help it stick. This needs to be waterproof and rot-resistant. It stands between your wall and water and you want it to do its job well. Some common flashing materials include stainless steel, copper, and vinyl. They can all work well, just pick the material that fits your style and budget.

The ledger board is what connects the house to your deck. This will be bolted into your home’s framing. So, it goes without saying that this is an important piece of wood! It will connect to the joists, which we will get to in a minute. Choose strong wood and strong bolts. That brings us to the next ingredient to stir in.

There is a wide variety of hardware that goes into building a deck. Screws and nails play their part, but there will also be an assortment of brackets, bolts, and joist hangers. The hardware matters as much as the wood you choose. Cutting corners is only a good idea if you are cutting wood to make a corner in your deck. Cheap hardware will make a cheap deck. And cheap decks don’t last. We can help you stay within budget while still creating a deck that will last as long as you envision.

Joists are the bread and butter of the deck. They form the skeleton of your deck and bear up the weight of all those fun parties you are planning. They will connect into your ledger and determine the size and shape of the deck itself. They are usually 12 to 16 inches apart, depending on the size of the deck and the materials you are using.

Joist Bridge
The joists are reinforced by the joist bridging. These are usually smaller pieces of wood placed between the joists, generally in a staggered pattern. They help to limit movement and bounce in the deck.

This is where the deck starts to take shape how you want it. The ledger, joists, and joist bridges are the background work, but custom decking takes center stage. There are a variety of materials to choose from: wood, plastic, or composite. And within each of those categories, there are a myriad of choices as well. We can guide you through the options and pick the material that matches your landscaping and your budget.

Railing is for more than just safety, but it certainly is good to have when you have guests, kids, or pets—and especially when you have all three! Beyond the safety, a railing creates a visual border that can enhance the entire outdoor space. Railings don’t need to be traditional wooden uprights. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box!

The deck footing will be one of the first steps and likely the most important one. Building a lovely deck that leans or crumbles a year after you install it doesn’t do you much good. The holes for the deck footing should be below the frost line to ensure their stability. Concrete can also help lock them in place so they hold the frame of your beautiful deck steady for years to come.

Support Post
The deck support posts are the vertical structure of the deck and support the majority of the weight. These should be spaced no more than 8 feet apart but can be closer, depending on the size of your deck and the materials you use. You’ve probably noticed that as a theme. Mapping out the deck and choosing materials affects every other variable.

The beams run parallel to the house and the ledger board, intersecting with the joists. It takes teamwork to create a deck that lasts!

Unless you plan on requiring pole vaulting to get to your deck, stairs might be needed. The stringer is the framework for the stairs. The number of stringers you need depends on the width of your stairs.

Treads and Risers
The tread is the flat part of the step where you place your foot. Generally, treads are about 10 inches deep. Going longer or shorter than that can create an awkward set of stairs. The risers are the vertical part of the steps. Seven inches is the generally accepted height for the risers. Taller or shorter can lead to tripping, which is a quick way to ruin a barbeque, especially if it is the person carrying the chicken that trips!

Following a recipe for brownies is, perhaps, less intimidating than mixing all these ingredients for a perfect deck, but as you learn these terms, the process will be less intimidating. Our team here at SRI Decks is available to answer questions and help you out along the way. We will follow the recipe together and create the perfect Colorado custom deck for you and your outdoor space.


  • Nate Barrett

    As the President of SRI Decks, my greatest satisfaction comes from the immediate sense of fulfillment that our work brings. From the initial design discussions with our customers to the moment we capture the final project in photos, I feel an immense pride in my team for their dedicated efforts. My passion for hands-on work and outdoor projects is matched only by the joy I derive from seeing a delighted customer when we’ve successfully completed a job. Fun Facts: I like hot chocolate in my coffee. I’ve been with SRI for 12 years, prior to ownership. I have a daughter, 3 dogs and a loving girlfriend.

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