Backyard decks seemingly create square footage out of thin air for summer barbecues, family get-togethers, or just for a quiet glass of wine while the sun sets. Contractor-driven decks tend to be insanely expensive, but the price tag plummets the moment you take on the job yourself. A number of important threads run through do-it-yourself deck building: easy and cheap.

Emphasize Building an Easy Deck

Building a full-service deck with all of the bells and whistles may look simple when it’s shown on fast-forward on a home show. Crews of workers magically transform empty backyards into multi-level decks within minutes. In reality, do-it-yourself deck building is a slow process involving hundreds of pounds of lumber and concrete. This means that the need to keep things simple and easy is all the more important.

Exceeding a certain vertical height is the condition that triggers building permits. Building codes vary from place to place, so check with your local permitting office for guidance. These decks are often called ground-level, floating or platform decks. They stay below permit level and are easier to build.

Inexpensive Deck Boards

Do-it-yourselfers love to save money. Successful deck builders know that the seriously high cost of some deck floor board materials can kill the project. So most use low-cost pressure treated wood or pallet boards to construct their backyard paradise.

Build This Easy, Inexpensive Pallet Wood Deck

Indianans Liz and Doug over at Hoosier Handmade pulled off a difficult feat: using pallets as deck boards. Pallet wood works best when it is not used as a contact surface. Along with the attractive cost (usually free) come unattractive elements such as protruding nails, rough surfaces, wide slats and broken pieces.

Liz and Doug solved a number of problems off the bat by purchasing wood pallets from a supplier, ensuring that they would receive only construction-quality wood and slats spaced close enough so that feet and chair legs would not slip through.

They kept the job super-simple and sane by employing only five major building materials. Most decks require a wide array of hardware, such as hanger brackets and special screws; they built a gorgeous deck by using only pallet boards, concrete blocks, sand, gravel and stain.