Tips for Building a Deck on a Sloped Site

Building a deck on a sloped site isn't much more difficult than on a level surface—so long as you plan for the difference. We'll show you how to plan for, lay out, and build your deck on uneven ground.

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A site that slopes away from the house presents challenges for a deck builder. Extra care must be taken to ensure that posts are plumb and the deck is level. This guide provides expert resources for every stage of deck building. From framing to installing the railing, we have you covered.

Editor's Tip: If a slope is severe, special measures may be needed to keep the footings from slowly sliding down the hill. Before you begin, evaluate your situation. In some extreme circumstances—such as when the deck footings have to be connected to the house's foundation—the slope may be beyond the scope of a DIY deck builder. In such cases, hire a professional.

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How to Anchor the Ledger

 A ledger board provides a secure way to attach a deck to a house. It also functions as an ideal starting place for laying out the site. After the ledger is installed, all layout measurements start from it. Our tutorial shows you how to anchor the ledger on a sloped site. The 11-step process involves marking for placement, installing the ledger, and more.  

How to Lay Out the Deck

When your yard slopes away from your home, it can be challenging to locate deck footings. The best way to do it is to construct the outside frame of the deck, temporarily support and level it, then measure down for the footings. The process isn't as tedious as it sounds, and our tutorial shows you exactly how to get the job done.

How to Frame the Deck

Once you've found and laid the footings, the next step in building your deck is to install posts, beams, and joists. The key for this step is to keep your work level, plumb, and straight. Accurate work ensures a stronger, safer deck. Learn exactly how to frame the deck here.

How to Lay the Decking

Once the frame is complete, you get to start laying out the decking. This step is when your project really comes to life. We'll show you how to install decking boards and securely attach them to the frame.

How to Lay the Stairways

When building any stairs—but especially ones on a sloped site—you need to make sure that all of the steps are the same height. To do this, you'll need to calculate rise and run, create a stringer, and lay out each step. If the deck is only 1 or 2 feet above fairly level ground, you can build simple stairs using precut stringers available at home centers. If the deck is higher or the ground slopes, careful planning is required to make sure that all the steps (including the bottom one) are the same height. Our how-to presents complete instructions on how to build the stairs.

How to Form a Concrete Pad

Build a concrete landing pad for your deck that will withstand the tests of time and nature. You'll need roughly a day to excavate, build forms, mix concrete, pour, and finish the surface. Get complete instructions with our how-to guide.

How to Build Stairs

Once you've built the stringers, it's time to actually build the stairs. For this process, we recommend high-grade lumber because stairs have to stand up to a lot of abuse. We'll walk you through the entire process—from attaching a crossbrace to fastening an anchor post—here.

How to Install the Railing

Deck railings are highly visible, so choose a design and lumber you really love. Once you have a plan for the railing, you'll need to install railing posts then  the railing. We'll show you how to do both. Once the regular railings are installed, you can move on to the stair railing. This how-to relies on measuring, cutting, and even spacing.

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