Memorable Moments: Ask This Old House
In springtime, Tom Silva’s thoughts turn to decks he has built
A favorite homeowner project in May is building or repairing a deck, and people often want to tackle a large deck, imagining the fun of all the outdoor living it will allow.
Tom Silva helped two homeowners build a 20-by-20-foot, two-level deck, an ambitious project that aired during two consecutive episodes of Season 9 (Episodes 15 and 16). "That deck was quite a project, with the ipe decking and special features like the railing system with dovetail joints," recalls Tom. Starting from scratch (Episode 15), Tom and the homeowners worked side by side on many tasks, including laying out the deck with string lines, determining the location of the footings, posts, columns, and support beams, attaching the 2x8 pressure-treated ledger board to the house, installing the timber hangers and joists, and framing most of the deck.
In Episode 16, they finished the deck, which included installing the pre-stained ipe decking, building the railing system with sliding dovetail joints, finishing the steps, and admiring the final result. Tom says that all the basic steps for building a deck of any size are also covered in "Building a Small Deck," Season 5, Episode 6, when he helped a homeowner build a 4-by-4-foot landing. "No matter what size the deck, as long as you take the time to do the measuring, footings, support, and decking right, you will have many happy hours outdoors," Tom says.