Whether you’re adding a deck to your house yourself, or hiring someone to do it, it’s important that it’s done right. Watch this video to see the steps that go into adding a deck or enhancing your patio.

How to Build a Deck

    • Deck Foundation: Laying out the location, digging holes for the footings, pouring the concrete, and laying concrete blocks for the deck foundation.
    • Deck Framing: Putting in pressure treated wood sills and joists on the concrete block foundation.
    • Decking: Installing pressure treated wood deck boards on the joists.
  • Lattice: Enclosing the area beneath the deck with pressure treated wood lattice.

How to Enhance a Patio

    • Score Patio: Use a masonry blade in a circular saw to score diagonal lines in a concrete slab to give it the appearance of tile.
    • Finish Patio: Add color to your patio by applying either concrete stain or paint.
  • Retractable Awning: Install a retractable awning to keep the hot summer sun at bay while letting in light when you want it.

Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner we’re looking at some cool ways to create or improve outdoor living space. We’ll follow a great deck project from start to finish and along the way we’ll share with you some ideas you can use at your home.

People just love their outdoor living areas and we’re building more of them now than we ever have before, and there’s a lot of different options that will allow you to really enjoy your backyard.

Here’s one: this is an aluminum framed screened enclosure, it has a traditional roof over it, and this was built at the same time the house was built and the homeowners just love it and this is a good way to keep those pets or children from falling out of a screen porch is to have a little handrail section behind it, and the aluminum makes it very low maintenance.

Now, the homeowners love this space but they really want a more open, a little bit larger area and we’re going to take care of that by building a large wood deck right here. Now it’s going to be a fairly large one, 17 feet wide and it will extend out about 24 feet.

And you know when you think about how much lumber goes into a deck this large and of course when you have a deck it’s like a magnet for all of the neighbors and friends to come over and have a little get together that can represent a tremendous amount of weight.

So the perfect way to start the perfect deck is to make sure you have the correct foundation to support all that weight. The first step in that direction is laying out the deck location properly so that it meets the house in the right place and it lines up with the interior floor level. It also has to be square to the building and leveled all the way across its length.

Now with an accurate outline on the ground, the guys can start figuring out exactly how much lumber they’ll need to order and begin locating the footings for the columns that will support the deck. These holes are spaced at eight-foot intervals throughout the deck area and each will be a two feet square that goes two feet deep.

Several pieces of steel rebar are wired together to form a grid that sits several inches above the bottom of the hole before a grade pin is set in to mark the exact depth at which the concrete will be poured.

Now, this is a lot of work, a lot more so than just digging regular postholes, and pouring concrete around the 4×4 or 6×6 but it’s all necessary because these concrete pads are the foundation for the concrete blocks that will form the columns. And those steel straps that are anchored in the pads will tie to the framing above for extra stability.

When the concrete is dry the masons arrive and begin setting the blocks and in no time they’re compete and the framing begins. Pressure treated 2×6 blocks cap the columns and the 6×6 treated posts run from the house out to the end of the deck. On top of this is a 2×10 floor joists are assembled running perpendicular to the 6×6 posts.

All of these layers of support will help spread out the load of this heavy deck and because they’re all linked together from the foundation up we’ve got a nice rigid platform to start installing the deck.

Well this is the fun part and really is very easy to install the deck boards if everything else was framed right, and it’s nice and square. Now, Mark Bufkin, our main carpenter on this job, has built acres and acres of wood decks like this. He has a few tips for you.

Mark Bufkin: Yeah, the first thing you want to do is look at the grain and the wood to see which way the arch goes and put that arch up. That way when the sun hits it, it don’t cup and hold water.

Danny Lipford: Now, I know another thing the sun will effect is drying out a little bit of the moisture, the treatment in here, and I guess that’s why no gap at all huh?

Mark Bufkin: Right, we like to keep it tight together so whenever the sun dries out you’re going to have a little quarter inch gap, it doesn’t work.

Danny Lipford: Now, I tell you Mark, what I’m seeing a lot of homeowners build wood decks, real frustrating when they get to this point where they have the seam and they’re trying to nail those nails in without it splitting. What’s your trick there?

Mark Bufkin: Trick is, is turn the nail over and hit it a couple times, blunt that end, and it allows you to get the nail real close to the edge without splitting it.

Danny Lipford: Well man, this looks great. It looks like you got a full day of work ahead of you and you know this is just one option for outdoor entertainment areas is to use wood like this and depending on what part of the country you’re in you have a lot of different types of wood that you can use, but Allen has a few other options for you.

Allen Lyle: This is a fairly typical patio but let’s face it, it’s boring. It’s just a slab of cement with no real character. Now the good news is that there are some things that you can do to really add that extra oomph to your concrete.

Start out by thoroughly cleaning the surface, you’ll want to use a pressure washer, you may even consider acid washing it. Then add some character by adding some lines to it, a little bit of a pattern, by scoring it. Now that’s as simple as putting a masonry blade on a circular saw and creating a tile pattern by cutting some very shallow grooves in the concrete.

Then you’re ready to add some concrete stain. Now these stains come in several different colors so you can match or compliment your surrounding exterior surfaces. You can also add a concrete paint instead, now let me give you an opinion here.

Concrete paint is good because it will actually cover your blemishes better. However, I think you’ll be happier by putting a stain on a patio surface simply because it’s going to be a lot more durable.

Now, what if you don’t have a patio and would like to create one? Well, you want to do that without the hassle of putting in form boards, pouring concrete. How about some concrete pavers, brick pavers, even flagstones?

Here’s a great suggestion. Go to our website, at dannylipford.com, in the search box type in the word “pavers.” It will take you to a great how-to article on creating that type of patio.

Listen we’re going to check in with Danny on the progress of the deck in just a minute, but first let’s see what advice Joe has for us in this week’s Simple Solution.

Joe Truini: If you’ve ever tried replacing the screen on a screen door you know that the most difficult by far is getting the new screen to fit nice and tight without any wrinkles. Well here’s a trick that will solve that problem.

First set the door on a pair of sawhorses, then slip a 2×2 under each end and clamp it in the middle to create a bow. Clamp on that end, then over here.

Now, with the door clamped in place we’re ready to put in the new screen. Use the splining tool to roll the spline into the grooves securing one end of the screen. Then unroll the screen across the door, pull it snug then use the splining tool and another length of spline to secure the opposite end of the screen.

OK, now I can release the clamps and the door will spring back, straighten out and pull out most of the wrinkles. Now these final few wrinkles will get removed when you pull out, straighten out the screen and put in the long spline along the sides of the door. Now once that’s done all you need to do is come back with a utility knife and very carefully trim away the excess screen.

Danny Lipford: Well we’re back out on our deck project where we’re building a fairly large deck with half of it covered with this roof structure they’re just getting started on. Now it’s pretty darn cold this morning, but over the last few days the weather’s been great and that’s allowed them to complete all of the deck boards, quite a few hundred feet of deck boards that went down, all pressure treated material, all coated nails.

As soon as they completed that they started on the skirt board, kind of closing all of this off, sealing it off, really nice appearance on it, using a 12-inch cement board, good way to kind of close all of that out without having to worry about any maintenance down the road.

Well also they’ve completed the building of a 6-foot wide set of steps leading from the yard up to the deck and this is always nice to have a nice wide set of steps. It makes it very welcoming to come up onto the deck.

Today the whole focus is on building this roof, and as cold as it is today, you really don’t need any shade. It would be nice if the sun was shining down to warm things up a bit, but during the summer, it’ll be great to have this little bit of cover over this. And I can see where the homeowners maybe would have a swing and a little bit of furniture here and there and they plan on putting large doors here to provide access out to the deck.

Now you know a lot of people like to have part of their deck covered but it’s great to have the option to be able to move the cover back out of the way, and you can do that with a motorized awning.

Allen Lyle: Now, this is a good example of what Danny just mentioned. We’ve got a nice sized patio, some beautiful landscaping, plenty of opportunity for sunshine. But in those hot summer months you just can’t enjoy it out here, and quite frankly, this old decrepit awning just isn’t doing anything. So we’re going to put in a motorized awning here.

Now, certainly if you can install one of these yourself, you can save a lot of money, so we’ve chosen one from a company called SunSetter. Now they tell me that even if I don’t know what end of a hammer to hold I can install one of these. Now, Tim and I are pretty good carpenters, but I’ve never installed one of these.

Tim McCraney: Well, Allen, I haven’t either. But they sent us a good brochure and a DVD that’s pretty self-explanatory, so I don’t think it’ll be too hard.

Allen Lyle: Well, let’s give it a shot.

This old awning has been here for a lot of years, the fabric is dry rotted and the metal frame is rusted, which slows down the removal but before long we’re ready to begin putting up the new one.

We start with a chalk line pulled level along the space where the awning will be attached, and then we measure out the locations along this line where the support brackets will be mounted. I found it helpful to dry fit them to the awning on the ground just to be sure I understood the orientation.

With a torpedo level Tim makes sure that each bracket is perfectly vertical before beginning to drill the anchor holes. This is where it slows down a bit for us because we are drilling a large hole in solid bricks so we can set lead anchors for the bolts that secure the brackets. In most applications, this would be a smaller pilot hole drilled into wood to accommodate a lag bolt.

When all the brackets are bolted on we’re ready for the awning and this is definitely a two-man job because this thing has a little heft to it. But it slides into position easily and stays there with the help of a single bolt through the front of each bracket. Then it’s just a matter of plugging it in and testing it out.

The fabric on this awning has no seams and it’s coated on both sides, so it’s durable and it also blocks out 99.9% of the sun’s UV rays.

Well, they were right, it only took us about two and half hours to install this. And the only reason it took that long is because we were drilling into solid brick. Now, you can see how easy this is to operate, which is why a motorized awning really makes a lot of sense for some people because it’s so user friendly.

Now, this awning comes out a full 10 feet and if you notice anything peculiar about this, there are no vertical supports. Pretty cool, huh? I guarantee the homeowners will get a lot of use out of this awning.

Danny Lipford: While Allen and Tim were putting up that motorized awning, the brick masons were back out on our deck project to wrap the block columns with bricks to match the rest of the house. And our crew made a lot of headway towards completing the permanent roof structure we’re building here.

Now, as you might imagine, cutting the proper angles on all of these rafters and nailing them in place takes a lot more time than the work Allen and Tim were doing, not to mention connecting it all to the existing roof of the house. So while these guys keep plugging away, why don’t you check out this week’s Best New Product with Emilie.

Emilie Barta: I’m convinced that your patio or porch isn’t complete unless it includes some means of cooking. A charcoal grill is the most popular cooker to have outside, but take a look at this new grill. This is the Orion cooker and it actually combines three cooking processes simultaneously: convection, steam, and smoke. That means you get moist, tender meat at a fraction of the time it takes in traditional outdoor cookers.

Here’s the reason, you’ve got two different charcoal rings. One here on top, and the other just below the enclosed meat chamber. Since the meat is completely enclosed, there are no flame ups, carcinogens, or taste attractors.

The Orion cooker uses regular charcoal, and you can also add flavored wood like hickory and mesquite. It doesn’t use cooking oil, so it’s healthier and a lot safer than a turkey fryer.

And check out how fast it is. You can cook a 20-pound turkey in about two hours, or six racks of baby back ribs in an hour and 15 minutes. The suggested retail price for the Orion cooker is under 150 dollars, and for that little bit of money you could easily become the barbeque king or queen of your block.

Danny Lipford: When the weather warms up these homeowners will be ready for some fun. The deck project that we’ve been working on over the last few weeks is about a week away from being completed.

Now, since we were here last we’ve completed almost all of the handrails and it’s so important when you’re building handrails on a deck that you build them very secure and make sure they adhere to any local building codes.

Now, the building codes will tell you how tall you need to build your rail and how far apart your spindles need to be. Very important that they be done right, but you can use your imagination and create almost any kind of design you want. This one, fairly traditional, but one of the things we did that I like a lot is put a nice wide top rail on it. That’s real convenient when you have a little gathering here.

Now, another thing that’s been completed is the wrapping of all of the columns with a fiber cement siding and we carried that same type of maintenance free material up on the gabled area here, all of that will be painted a little bit later. Now, the area that’s not covered here will be covered with vinyl soffit and a vinyl ceiling material that will match the rest of the exterior of the house.

Now, I talked about the triple doors we would be putting in. You can see they’re in place, and you can just imagine how much natural light that will allow to go into the house, and what perfect access out to the new deck.

As you can see the brick man has a little bit of work here to tie all of that together. Once we do that and we wash the bricks very well it will look like those doors have been there all along.

Now, you can’t have a nice little entertainment area like this without a grill, and they’ve already purchased a brand new grill here. And you just can’t have a grill in a covered area like this without adequate ventilation. So we built this little hood using the same fiber cement material and underneath installed a very good strong grill with lights, or a vent hood rather, so that we can exhaust all of that smoke out of here. Because you can really make a mess of a ceiling no matter what kind of ceiling it is.

You know I can’t remember almost any remodeling project that we did without a few changes along the way, especially changes that the homeowners planned on all along and they decided to do them a little quicker. Here’s a good example of it.

They had planned on tying their existing back porch into the new deck all along, but they planned on doing that a little bit later. But once they saw how everything was developing, they decided this was a good time. So before we installed this handrail section, they decided to let us go ahead and extend it. It even has a nice little deck section on the other side so there’s plenty of entertainment area here.

Next, they are completing all of the handrails and a new set of stairs that will go right off the door on that side. But before we can do that Mark has to trim the excess length from the deck boards on the outer edge. You know cutting them all at once like this creates a nice clean line along the edge of the deck.

Now, while Mark begins laying out the stairs, the rest of this crew wades into putting together all the handrails of this new addition to the deck. By putting them together in sections down on the deck they can really speed up the process because they only have to use just a few nails to secure the whole unit to the posts.

Now, the post at the base of the stairs will support the handrails as well but they also anchor the stairs since there’s no landing here to nail them to. There’s an awful lot of repetitive work to a set of stairs this large but these guys have to stay focused because a mistake here would not only be very obvious, but it could also cause a nasty fall.

Because of all of the angles involved it’s usually easier to build stair handrails in place. That means almost every individual piece has to be marked in place then cut to fit exactly. But if you do it right you’ll end up with a beautiful set of stairs that should last a long time.

Another thing we’ve completed on this deck to give it that finishing touch, all of the under skirting. Now we’ve used a checkerboard style lattice instead of the traditional diagonal lattice. This is really my favorite kind, you have your strips running vertically and horizontally.

And you’ll see right behind it an important aspect of it: landscape fabric that prevents people from seeing under the deck, which is never a pretty sight. But this also allows air to continue circulating under the deck, which will minimize any moisture accumulation which can really be detrimental to the life of a deck.

Hey, when we come back we’ll show you how we got this point on this deck, but first here’s a question from you.

Marcie: Hey Danny. What can I do to cut down on water use and waste without sacrificing comfort? Any suggestions?

Danny Lipford: With recent drought conditions and the concern over saving our natural resources, I hope more people become as concerned as you are. You know there’s some very simple things you can do. The first is making sure that there are no leaks around your house. Now you can solve most leaky faucets by simply replacing warn washers.

Leaky toilets are also a big concern because you can waste up to 50 gallons of water everyday. You can replace the flapper valve or install one with a water saving duel flush option that allows you to use less than one gallon of water per flush.

Now in the shower that’s where you can use a lot of water. Limit yourself to five minutes and install a water saving showerhead. The newer models aren’t like the old days, you really can get a good shower and still use less water.

By doing just a few of these simple things you can save a lot of water, put cash back in your pocket and feel pretty darn good about doing something good for the environment.

This week we’ve been looking at ways to improve an outdoor entertainment area whether it is dressing up a simple patio with a new look and an awning, or creating a whole new space, like this great deck we’ve been building. This thing started out as a 17×24-foot deck, but soon grew to connect the existing screen porch and create two whole new areas. Now the deck extends all the way across the back of the house.

On one end we created a new entry to the house and covered the deck with a roof that ties into the house so the party can go on rain or shine. You can also keep the grill cooking away, regardless of the weather, thanks to the vent hood we installed and when the weather cooperates, there are plenty of places to just sit and enjoy the sunshine.

Now, if you’re building a deck or developing any kind of outdoor living space at your home, we’ve certainly provided you with a lot of information, but there’s even more on our website at dannylipford.com.

Hey, we know there’s a lot of home improvement shows out there, and we appreciate you taking the time to be with us here on Today’s Homeowner. I’m Danny Lipford, we’ll see you soon.

The right tool always makes a job go easier so next week we’ll match the tool to the chore.

If you would like to purchase a DVD copy of this week’s show, visit our website at dannylipford.com, or call us at 1-800-946-4420.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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