The Essential Deck guide

Embarking on a deck-building project is an adventure that promises to enhance both the value and enjoyment of your outdoor living space. Whether you’re diving into a DIY project or enlisting the expertise of professionals, having a solid grasp of deck fundamentals is essential for a successful build. In this essential guide brought to you by Project Landscape, Calgary’s premier deck builders, we delve into the various facets of deck construction and offer seasoned advice to ensure your decking endeavor is a resounding success.

Introduction: Laying the Foundation for Your Deck

Building a deck is more than just an addition to your home; it’s a lifestyle enhancement. In Calgary, where outdoor living is treasured, a well-constructed deck becomes the heart of backyard activities. Whether you’re tackling the project yourself or seeking the skills of experienced deck builders near you, understanding the intricacies of deck construction is key.

The Value of a Well-Built Deck

A deck not only extends your living space but also adds a new dimension of functionality and aesthetic appeal to your home. It’s a place for family gatherings, a sanctuary for relaxation, and a showcase of personal style. For homeowners in Calgary, a deck isn’t just a structure; it’s an integral part of home life.

Expertise Meets Design

At Project Landscape, we understand that each deck is unique. Our team of skilled deck contractors and builders combines technical precision with creative design to craft decks that are not only structurally sound but also visually stunning. We specialize in low maintenance decking solutions, ensuring that your deck remains a source of pride with minimal upkeep.

In the following sections, we’ll explore the key components of deck building, from selecting the right materials to understanding design nuances, ensuring that your deck is not only a beautiful addition to your home but also a durable and functional outdoor space.

Substructure Material: Pressure-Treated Lumber

When embarking on a deck-building journey, one of the crucial decisions is selecting the right material for the substructure. At Project Landscape, we often recommend pressure-treated lumber for this foundational component. This choice is backed by several compelling reasons that make it a standout option for deck construction in Calgary.

Cost-Effectiveness and Durability

Pressure-treated lumber is lauded for its balance between affordability and durability. It offers a cost-effective solution without compromising on the lifespan of your deck. The treatment process the lumber undergoes ensures it can withstand the test of time, maintaining its integrity through Calgary’s varied weather conditions.

Resistance to Elements

One of the key strengths of pressure-treated lumber is its resistance to common outdoor threats. It’s specially treated to resist rot, decay, and damage from insects. This resilience makes it an ideal material for the substructure of your deck, which is crucial for the overall stability and longevity of the construction.

Easy Availability and Customization

Another advantage of pressure-treated lumber is its widespread availability. It’s a readily accessible material for deck builders near you, ensuring that your deck project isn’t delayed by material shortages. Moreover, this type of lumber is versatile and can be customized to fit the specific design and size requirements of your deck.

A Solid Foundation for Your Deck

Choosing pressure-treated lumber for your deck’s substructure is a decision that promises a strong and enduring foundation. With this material, your deck is well-equipped to handle both the load of daily activities and environmental factors, ensuring a safe and enjoyable outdoor space for years to come.

Footing Types: Screw Piles Or Concrete Piles

Screw Piles:

When considering the foundation of your deck, screw piles emerge as an outstanding option. These precision-engineered footings are tailored to specific torque readings, guaranteeing that they can bear the intended load with unwavering stability. Opting for screw piles brings multiple benefits, chief among them being their swift installation process. Unlike traditional methods that require waiting periods for concrete to dry or for inspections, screw piles allow for immediate progress with framing and other construction phases, significantly streamlining the overall project timeline. This efficiency is a key factor in their growing popularity among deck builders and homeowners alike.

Concrete Piles:

When building a deck, concrete piles are a traditional and reliable choice for footings. These sturdy foundations are poured into drilled holes, reaching down to stable soil layers. Concrete piles excel in load-bearing capacity, ensuring a strong and stable base for your deck. They are especially suited for heavy structures or uneven terrains. While installation takes longer due to curing time, the end result is a highly durable foundation resistant to shifting and settling. Concrete piles are a time-tested solution, offering peace of mind for the longevity and safety of your deck.   

Post & Beams: The process of determining the correct spacing for posts and beams is a crucial step in deck construction, and it varies significantly based on the deck’s size, layout, and design. At Project Landscape, we understand that every deck is unique and requires a tailored approach. The spacing between posts and beams must be carefully calculated and customized to fit the individual specifications and needs of your deck. This attention to detail ensures that the structure maintains optimal integrity and support, which is essential for the safety and longevity of the deck. Our approach ensures that each deck we build is not only aesthetically pleasing but also structurally sound and reliable. 

Joist Size & Spacing:

For the joists in deck construction, 2x10s are often the preferred choice. These joists offer an ideal combination of strength and manageable weight, ensuring a robust structure with a favorable span rating. To optimize the deck’s stability and feel, a spacing of 12 inches on center is typically recommended. This closer spacing not only adds extra joists for better load distribution but also contributes to a firmer and more secure decking surface, enhancing the overall quality and durability of the deck structure.

Deck Surface Boards:

Pressure Treated Wood:

Pressure-treated wood is a staple choice for deck surface boards, especially in Calgary where durability is key. This type of lumber undergoes a special treatment process, making it resistant to rot, decay, and insect infestation, which is crucial for withstanding Calgary’s varied climate. Its longevity and strength make pressure-treated wood an ideal option for outdoor decking. Not only is it cost-effective, but it also offers a classic, natural aesthetic that blends seamlessly with outdoor environments. Additionally, its versatility allows for a wide range of design possibilities, from traditional to contemporary styles. Homeowners looking for ‘deck builders near me’ often find that Calgary Deck Builders, like Project Landscape, recommend pressure-treated wood for its balance of affordability, durability, and natural beauty, making it a popular choice for both new constructions and deck renovations.   

Cedar Decking Boards:

Cedar decking boards are highly sought after by Calgary homeowners for their exceptional natural beauty and durability. Revered for their rich color and distinct grain patterns, cedar boards add an elegant, rustic charm to any outdoor space. Renowned for being naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insect damage, cedar stands up well against Calgary’s diverse weather conditions. Additionally, cedar’s lightweight nature makes it a favorite among deck builders and contractors for its ease of installation. For those searching for ‘deck builders near me’ or ‘Calgary deck builders,’ cedar decking is often recommended as a top choice for its aesthetic appeal and long-lasting performance. 

 Composite Deck Boards:

Composite decking boards are increasingly popular among homeowners in Calgary, offering a perfect blend of durability and aesthetic appeal. These boards are crafted from a mix of wood fibers and recycled plastics, making them eco-friendly and highly resistant to fading, staining, and scratching. Unlike traditional wood decking, composite boards require minimal maintenance, freeing homeowners from the tasks of painting, staining, or sealing. Their moisture-resistant properties make them ideal for Calgary’s varied climate, effectively combating rot and decay. As top Calgary deck builders and deck contractors will attest, composite decking provides a luxurious look without the upkeep of natural wood. Whether you’re searching for ‘deck builders near me’ or considering ‘low maintenance decking’ options, composite decking boards are a compelling choice for their longevity, ease of care, and contribution to sustainable building practices. 

  PVC Decking:

PVC decking boards are a top-tier choice for Calgary homeowners seeking a low maintenance yet high-performance decking solution. Made from 100% recyclable polyvinyl chloride, PVC decking is remarkably durable, resistant to rot, decay, and insect damage, perfectly suited to withstand Calgary’s diverse weather conditions. Unlike traditional wood, PVC boards do not splinter, warp, or fade, making them ideal for a long-lasting, beautiful deck surface. For those searching for ‘deck builders near me’ or ‘Calgary deck builders,’ PVC decking offers a practical, aesthetically pleasing option with the added benefit of being an environmentally friendly choice for modern decking needs.

Exotic Wood Decking:

Batu decking boards are increasingly gaining traction among Calgary homeowners for their exceptional durability and striking visual appeal. Known for their rich, reddish-brown hue, Batu boards bring a touch of exotic elegance to any outdoor space. These hardwood boards are not only aesthetically pleasing but also incredibly durable, resistant to decay, insects, and harsh weather conditions, making them ideal for Calgary’s diverse climate. With their smooth texture and natural resistance to warping and splintering, Batu decking offers a luxurious, low-maintenance option for those searching for ‘deck builders near me’ or ‘Calgary deck builders.’ Batu decking is a perfect blend of beauty, durability, and sustainability.

Enhance Your Deck With Custom Features:

The possibilities for customizing your deck are limitless, allowing you to tailor it perfectly to your lifestyle and Calgary’s diverse weather. Consider incorporating a fireplace for a warm, inviting atmosphere during the snowy Calgary winters, or add a shaded section complete with garden elements and insect protection for comfortable summer days. Selecting these extra features not only personalizes your deck but also significantly enhances its practicality and enjoyment, making it a true extension of your home and a reflection of your personal style.  

Here are some popular deck design features you may be interested in: 


Adding a pergola to your deck is an elegant way to enhance its charm and functionality. It provides a shaded retreat for relaxation, elevates the aesthetic appeal, and creates a distinct, inviting outdoor living area.

Fire Pit Or Fireplace:

Incorporating a fire pit or fireplace into your deck design transforms it into a cozy gathering spot, ideal for Calgary’s cooler evenings. It not only adds warmth and ambiance but also serves as a focal point for socializing, extending the use of your deck into the cooler months.  

Cascading Stairs: 

Cascading stairs as an add-on feature for your deck bring a graceful, flowing aesthetic. They create a seamless transition from the deck to your garden or yard, enhancing accessibility while adding an element of architectural sophistication to your outdoor living space.

Privacy Screens:

Privacy screens are a practical and stylish addition to any deck, offering seclusion and comfort. These screens provide a barrier from external views and winds while adding a decorative touch. They are perfect for creating a more intimate, personal outdoor space for relaxation and entertainment.

Wrap Around Benches:

Wrap-around benches are an ideal feature for maximizing seating on your deck while maintaining a sleek, unified design. These benches offer ample, comfortable seating, perfect for entertaining guests or enjoying quiet moments outdoors. Their integrated design also serves as an efficient use of space, enhancing the deck’s overall functionality.

Deck Lighting:

Deck lighting is a transformative add-on feature, blending functionality with aesthetic appeal. Strategically placed lights not only enhance safety by illuminating steps and edges but also create a warm, inviting ambiance. From subtle recessed lighting to statement fixtures, the right lighting can turn your deck into a captivating evening retreat, perfect for relaxation and entertainment.

Custom Deck Design For Every Style & Budget:

Project Landscape recognizes that each homeowner’s vision for their outdoor living space is distinct, shaped by individual style preferences and budget considerations. Our commitment is to deliver tailor-made deck design solutions that align perfectly with your personal aesthetics while respecting your financial parameters.

Our seasoned design team prides itself on collaboration and communication, ensuring your ideas and expectations are central to the deck design process. From the classic charm of a wooden deck to the contemporary flair of a composite deck, our expertise is in transforming your dream of an ideal outdoor oasis into a tangible, beautiful reality. With Project Landscape, your perfect deck is not just a concept, but a carefully crafted extension of your home.

Understanding Deck Inspection & Permitting:

For homeowners contemplating home renovations or additions like decks, it’s crucial to be aware of the local building permit requirements. These permits are more than just formalities; they grant legal authorization to commence construction based on pre-approved plans and specifications, ensuring that all work complies with local building codes and regulations.

Prior to applying for a permit, it’s important for homeowners and their chosen general contractors to conduct thorough deck inspections. These inspections assess the current condition of the existing structure and the surrounding land, determining their capability to support a new deck. This preliminary step is essential for ensuring the safety, stability, and compliance of your upcoming deck project, aligning it with local building standards and contributing to the overall success of the renovation.

When planning your deck project, it’s important to be aware of the specific circumstances under which a Building Permit is necessary. In Calgary, you will require a Building Permit in the following scenarios:

  1. Height Considerations: If any part of your deck will be higher than 0.6 meters (approximately two feet) above the ground level, a Building Permit is mandatory. This regulation ensures that decks of a certain height adhere to safety and construction standards.

  2. Covered Decks: If you’re planning to build a covered deck, such as an enclosed sundeck, a deck with open rafters, or a gazebo, it is classified as an addition to your property. Such structures typically require a Development Permit, as they involve more comprehensive changes to your home’s structure and potentially its appearance.

Understanding and complying with these permit requirements is crucial for legal and safety reasons. It ensures that your deck is built according to local codes and regulations, providing peace of mind and enhancing the value of your property.

FAQ for Calgary Decks

1. How Much Does It Cost to Build a Deck in Calgary?

The cost of building a deck in Calgary varies widely based on size, materials, and additional features. A smaller, basic deck starts around $2,000, while larger, more elaborate decks can cost significantly more. On average, deck construction costs range from $21.0 to $71.0 per square foot, meaning a standard 12′ x 4′ deck could cost between $3,528 and $11,928.

2. Do I Need a Permit to Build a Deck in Calgary?

Yes, a Building Permit is required if your deck is higher than 0.6m (approximately two feet) above grade at any point, or if you’re building a covered deck, such as an enclosed sundeck, a deck with open rafters, or a gazebo.

3. Do I Need a Railing on My Deck in Calgary?

For decks where the surface is 1.8m (5′-11”) or more above the adjacent ground level, a railing at least 1.07m (3′-6”) high is required.

4. How Close to My Property Line Can I Build My Deck?

For decks less than 2 feet in height, the setback is usually 4 feet from side and rear yard lot lines. If the deck is higher than 2 feet from the ground, it must be set back 4 feet from side yard lot lines and 11 feet 6 inches from the rear yard lot lines.

5. How Far Should a Deck Be from the House?

When positioning a freestanding deck frame, it should ideally be set 1 inch or less away from the house for optimal safety and construction quality.

6. What Is the Correct Slope for a Deck?

For decks with solid surfaces or deck boards running perpendicular to the house, a slope of ¼” per foot is ideal. In areas with heavy rainfall, a slightly steeper slope, between ⅛” and ¼”, may be necessary.

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