We finished off Part 3 with only the deck rail, stairs, and staining of the wood remaining. So we’ll begin with how we built the deck rail, which, like the rest of the deck, we prayed about how to build it and then just began based off the vision we felt like God gave us.
My wife wanted the deck rail to be roughly 34″ tall, so based off of that, we began laying out the rest of the measurements. We started by using a table saw and cutting down 2″x4″ boards into 1-1/2″ wide boards. Then we cut these new boards to 23″ long. Next, we nailed them to the side of the 6″x6″ deck posts using 3″ galvanized framing nails making sure the bottom of the 1-1/2″ boards were 5-3/4″ above the deck boards and were centered and level on the 6″x6″ deck post.
After that, we cut a 2″x4″ board the length of the inside edges of the deck posts (upper deck rail board) resting it on the first 1-1/2″ board that was nailed, and placing a level on it in order find the exact height of the corresponding 1-1/2″ board needed to be nailed to the other deck post. At this point we had both 1-1/2″ boards nailed to the deck posts. From there we cut the bottom 2″x4″ deck rail board and attached them to the deck posts – we toe-nailed the boards to the deck posts making sure to keep the board faces level with each other.
Next, we cut 2″x4″ boards the length from the top of the top rail to the bottom of the bottom rail, and attached them to each end of the deck rail using 3″ galvanized framing nails. Then, we cut a 2″x6″ board the length of the deck rail and nailed it to the top of the deck rail framing creating a ledge to sit your drinks and food on, or just take a seat. After that, we measured the deck rail by thirds and attached two 2″x4″ boards to give support to the deck rail as not to have a sag issue – we pre-drilled the lower holes and used screws to attach them at the bottom. Then, we simply cut additional 2″x4″ boards to fill in the remaining gaps in our deck rail making sure to measure the best gaps between each board before beginning to attach them. We repeated this process all the way around the deck except for the staircase opening.
Once we finished the deck rail, we moved on to the stairs, which we used only pressure treated wood to build. We used three 2″x10″ boards to create the stringers for the staircase by simply taking a pre-cut stringer, clamping it to each board, tracing the design onto each 2″x10″ board the entire length of the board, and then cutting each one out. Once we had our stringers cut to shape and length (length will vary based on height of your deck) we created a staircase frame using 3″ exterior screws, 3″ galvanized framing nails, and 2″x6″ & 2″x8″ boards – the 2″x6″ boards we used for the header and supports, and the 2″x8″ we used for the base of the frame. Remember to attach your header the width of your tread plates above your stringers so that your tread plate will be the same height as your deck board. We used 4″x8″x16″ cement blocks as a footer to rest the base of the frame upon making sure to remove dirt as needed to keep it level.
Once the frame was in place, being held on by a couple screws just to keep it from moving, we measured where our staircase posts would need to be set. The posts we used were 6″x6″x8′ pressure treated which we buried about 2′ or more in the ground filling them with concrete and leveling them as we filled the holes. We like to use a piece of angle iron as a packing rod as we increase the amount of concrete in the whole.
We then set the staircase frame back in place, attaching it using 3″ exterior screws, to the deck and staircase posts. After that we attached the tread plates to the stringers using 3″ exterior screws and 3″ galvanized framing nails. When attaching the tread plates to the stringers, be sure to get close to the front and back of the tread plates when attaching them as tread plates have a tendency to warp. I like to use three 3″ exterior screws for each place the tread plate contacts the stringer – so in our design using 4′ tread plates, we used nine total screws per tread plate.
We wanted to have two staircase rails per side since we have a lot of small nieces and nephews, and wanted to lessen the chance of them falling off the side of the stairs. So, we used two 2″x6″ pressure treated boards per side making sure to set them at the same angle/height for each side of the staircase. To find the exact cut angles for the ends of the boards, after deciding the height we wanted them, we simply laid them against the 6″x6″ posts they would be attached to and marked them and cut them. We then pre-drilled holes everywhere we were planning on attaching the deck rails, and then used 3″ exterior screws to attach them to the posts.
And lastly for the stairs, we measured and cut the stair posts to be level with each other and then installed 6″x6″ post caps.
Once the stairs were completed, we stained the entire deck and began laying out the flower bed…at least the beginning parts of the flower bed.