A Professional Guide To Building A Deck Around A Tree

a picture of a multi tier deck with a tree in the middle of it

A wooden deck is a thing of beauty, an excellent way of adding some oomph to your outdoor living area. It expands the living space while serving as a focal point for your outdoors. 

Building it around a tree might seem to complicate the project, but that is not the case. You can work with a floating deck that rests on above-ground piers or underground footings. It just depends on what your permit office wants to see. The tree’s size could influence the deck’s dimensions, the layout of the foundations, and the joist layout as well.

Why Incorporate Surrounding Trees?

A mature tree or two in the spot you plan for the installation can be a blessing in disguise. The plants can serve as natural shade and at the same time, you get to feel good about helping your environment. Furthermore, a deck that encompasses a tree or two looks phenomenal, a presentation that can make people have a deeper appreciation of your outdoor setting.

deck

How To Build Your Deck Around A Tree

Installing a deck is not something that you should brush off as easy and undertake it as a DIY project. We highly recommend that you let the professionals at TNT handle the installation, especially when you have an obstacle, such as a tree, that can impact the construction. Also, this guide explains just one of many different ways to approach the same project. Basically, be careful, use common sense, and always wear safety gear and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when using power tools.

Below is a quick guide that shows steps we follow when building a deck that will surround a tree. 

1.   Assess Your Trees

As we layout and plan your deck we will get an idea of where the tree is going to be in relation to the deck space and plan accordingly. This will help us to not only make it easier to frame around but also plan for how it will fit into the decking or any railing obstacles we might encounter.

Most tree species stop growing upwards when they reach a certain point but most every tree keeps growing wider adding rings every year.

On a lot of installs, we will butt the decking boards right up against the tree all the way around and then at the end we carefully take a jigsaw and run it in a circle around the tree with one side of the blade guard up against it so that when you’re done you get an even gap all the way around the tree.

This will also help for future growth so in 10 years if the girth of the tree is grown out and is about to or is already touching the deck boards you can go ahead and use a jigsaw and cut another gap around it.

2.    Plan Your Deck

Be realistic and honest about how you plan to use the deck. Do you want to use it for barbecues or outdoor dining, as a casual entertainment spot for guests, or maybe somewhere to do yoga or coffee in the mornings?

If you have a lower budget, it would be best to consider installing something small with a potential second phase in the future. We believe a smaller deck can help create a more intimate space.

The size will also be determined by the space available. We will advise you accordingly while also considering the slope of your yard and the different support structures needs for the deck.

Permits will also have a huge influence on what you can and can’t do in your particular yard. We will dive into this more in step 4 but things you will have to keep in mind that the permit office will most likely be checking for are things like:

  • Setbacks (this is the amount of space there needs to be in between the deck you want to build and your property line)
  • Caissons (these are holes you dig in the ground with the intent of filling back up with concrete to support the deck using posts)
  • Ledger (this is the attachment point at the house (if applicable). It could look something like a 2×12 laying flat against the house and attached using ledger locks)

3.    Choose Your Timber

The wood to use should be robust enough to serve its purpose for years to come. For the framing lumber, we recommend you go for natural pressure-treated wood with excellent load-bearing strength. You won’t have to make many decisions about the framing as we will be recommending you what’s needed based on your individual decks’ specs.

As for the decking material, it’s up to your budget and your personal choice as to whether you put down something like a natural redwood decking or something easier to maintain like a composite decking material.

4.    Site Plan And Preparations

For the installation process to proceed smoothly, you need a site plan. We shall handle this as well as ensure that you have all the required permits and that everything is done up to code. We have an engineer on staff which greatly speeds up this process and ensures quality control. With the site plans, we will have the blueprints that will keep us on track about the materials needed, measurements for cuts, and any project-specific guidelines. 

We will measure off the house, staking and tying a string along the way, marking out where to place the caissons. We will clear the area and if space provides we will use an auger to dig the holes for the footings that will serve as the piers for the deck. The depth of the holes for the footings will depend on the deck design you pick and the county or region’s building codes. After the holes are dug, an inspector will most likely have to come out and sign off at this point in the project.

Ask us about our pre-visualization services if you really want to plan out your project in great detail.

5.    Setting The Posts

After the inspector signs off on the holes, we will fill them back up with concrete. We will give the concrete time to cure before putting weight on them. During this time we can still move forward by using temporary lumber nailed to the frame to hold it up until the concrete cures. We set the post-to-caisson bracket. Then we will fix pressure-treated 4×4 wooden posts into the brackets, securing them in place with nails to create the deck piers.

6.    Installing The Ledger Board

The ledger board is an essential component when constructing a deck, and it attaches the deck to your house. The connection should be robust, and depending on your house, you may need to first install flashing to prevent water damage. Then attach the ledger board directly to the house’s rim joist or concrete sub-wall.

7.    Framing The Deck

With the ledger installed, you can now attach a joist on either end and a rim joist on the outside of those two and now you’ve got a giant rectangle. You can then proceed to fill the interior with framing at a certain measurement you will get from your permit. A common joist layout example is sixteen inches on center. Make sure all lumber gets installed crown up.

The joists are the support boards that form the deck’s foundation. We will use 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, or 2×12 joists depending on what your deck plans call for. Depending on the building codes in your area, you may need to add extra support in between each joist across the middle of the rectangle.

8.    Framing Around The Tree

Ideally, you placed the tree between two joists and now you just need to put two small two by’s in between the joists hugging the tree. If necessary you may need to add framing at a 45-degree angle in the corners of your newly created square to round the corners and finish creating the frame. 

If the tree isn’t small enough to fit in between two joists then you may need to add double joists in certain areas. This will depend on your particular codes, but an example is to double joists on either side of the tree. Then add double joists spanning those first two doubles creating a rectangle of double material around the tree area. This area would almost certainly need to have posts designed into the plan holding up this heavy area. You will then end up with areas that need small joists and negative spaces around the tree that need to be filled with 45-degree mini joists.

No matter the exact process, we are just trying to create a frame that encompasses the tree and is close enough so that no one accidentally steps in a vulnerable spot.

9.    Laying The Decking

Installing the decking boards can be started from the outermost edge working towards the house or from the house working out depending on your preference. We like to start at the house and move out to get that nice clean line at the house. Based on the decking material you choose we would use a tool to make sure the boards have a tight consistent gap as we secure them down using deck screws.

If you chose to go with hidden fasteners then we let the hardware and the guns set their own gap as we hold the boards tight and snap down the fasteners. We will accurately measure the boards that terminate at the tree frame for snug fit then fasten them down to the tree frame and joists with deck screws or fasteners. We jig around the tree as described earlier to get an even organic gap. When the entire deck floor is laid, we will snap a chalk line along the edges to cut any excess overhang to achieve straight lines before attaching the outer fascia.

10.    Finishing touches

To finish up the deck we would want to add stairs if needed to get down into the yard (if the deck height is above a specific height [see permit]). Also, make sure to add handrail if your deck height is above a certain level as well. To do that you add 4×4’s or similar post material to the perimeter and span those with 2×4’s full of balusters. The full details of a handrail is a mix of what is required (spacing) and what is desired (material type and color).  

pic of a wood deck built in Loveland featuring built in seating and lighting

Wrapping up

To ensure that your new deck lasts a long time, we recommend you coat a wooden deck with a wood preservative or stain to ensure the decking is adequately sealed. Sealing the boards is essential for added protection against mold, moisture, and the sun’s rays.

If you went for a low-maintenance composite deck board option then you can just wash it off with the hose and maybe just a very small amount of dish soap if it gets dirty. 


To learn more about our deck construction services here at TNT please click here. Get in touch with us today if you want to know more about other outdoor hardscaping plans or know more about our services and how we can help transform your home. You can call us at 970-663-2868 or email us at sales@tnthomeimprovements.com

Deck Construction in Fort Collins, Colorado

pic of a deck and pergola built in Fort Collins, CO

Are you interested in adding a deck to your property? If so, we are a local outfit offering the best deck construction services in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Decking can be used to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your property, increase the available living space and ultimately raise the property’s overall value. With all these advantages in mind, it is easy to see why these structures are so popular.

Our Services

To help our clients reap the above-mentioned benefits of having a deck, we offer the following decking services:

• Deck Installation

As an established deck construction company in Fort Collins, CO, we can help you put up the most stylish and long-lasting deck. We have the expertise and knowledge required to help guide you through the process of choosing the right type of deck and decking materials given your own personal requirements, the available space, your property’s landscape and the available budget among others.

Over the years we have worked on a variety of projects, installing wide variety types of decks along the way. Every project is unique and depending on the available space and location, we can install the following types of decks:

Attached Decks

Resembling a patio, an attached deck is made using composite or wooden decking materials. It is also slightly raised from the ground. Attached decks are commonly located at the rear end of U- or L- shaped houses.

Island/Detached Decks

Like an island, these decks are designed to stand alone. Steps or a clear path can be used to access the deck. Since they can be built over uneven or poorly drained terrain, these decks are considered to be highly versatile; unlike concrete patios, for instance.

Pool Decks

There are many reasons for you to put up a pool deck. For starters, unlike concrete or stone, the materials used do not present a slipping hazard. Furthermore, wood is less likely to scorch your feet even on the hottest of days.

In addition to increasing the space available for swimmers to soak up the sun, a pool deck can also make above ground swimming pools more accessible.

It is, however, worth mentioning the fact that wooden pool decks should be regularly maintained to keep the wood from splitting and prevent the occurrence of splinters.

Wrap Around Decks

If you are looking to follow the sun or shade or expand your living space, a wraparound deck is exactly what you need. Resembling a traditional wraparound porch, this type of deck is raised and roomier.

Multi-Level Decks

Does your property’s sloped or rocky terrain make it difficult for you to put up a concrete patio? Well if so, consider putting up multi-level decks. Linked by paths or steps, multi-level decks are simply a series of decks built on different levels, as dictated by the existing landscape.

This can also refer to a stacking multiple decks on top of each other. So if you have a tall two or even three-story house you could build multiple outdoor living spaces on top of each other.

Entryway Decks

Usually a series of linked platforms that lead to the entrance of your house, entryway decks can be used to enhance your property’s curb appeal. To do so, the decking must be designed and installed in a way that perfectly matches your home’s architecture.

Rooftop Decks

For elevated views of your home’s surroundings or even some added privacy outdoors, rooftop or garage top decks are the answer. These decks are suited to flat-roofed homes. Before construction, the structural integrity of the underlying structure must be tested, and enhanced where necessary, for safety purposes.


Decking Materials

As an experienced deck construction services provider, we understand how important it is for you to choose the right decking materials straight from the start. Climate, maintenance requirements, and cost are some of the main considerations you need to keep in mind when choosing the right material for your new deck.

Here’s a shortlist of some of the main decking material options we have found to be popular among Fort Collins homeowners over the years.

Wood

Wooden decks are quite common in the Fort Collins area. Wood, a natural material, is not only visually appealing but also strong and long-lasting. However, to keep it in its best condition, annual maintenance may be necessary depending on the specific type of wood used. This material has been known to stand up well to the high altitude and hot dry climate associated with this part of the country. When it comes to wood, you have a wide variety of options to choose from, including:


Redwood And Cedar

Resistant to both rot and insect damage, both of these options can be used to construct decks that will stand up to the extreme local climate and maintain their appeal and strength over the years, provided that the right sealant is used.

Unlike pressure-treated wood, which is known to warp and crack due to direct exposure to the elements over an extended period, redwood and cedar will maintain their original shape and form for decades.

For a seamless, refined look you can opt for wood decking systems that do not require the use of screws as fasteners.


Tropical Hardwoods

If you are looking to add an exotic feel to your new deck, consider going with tropical hardwoods such as Ipe, Philippine mahogany or tigerwood among others. In addition to being rich grained, these hardwoods are also very strong and highly durable. Like the above-described options, tropical hardwoods are also naturally resistant to rot and insect damage.

It is worth mentioning that tropical hardwood decking usually requires the use of a specialized fastening system. This is mainly due to the fact that they are so dense; making it quite difficult to drive nails or screws through the timber. These hardwoods are also harder to cut and heavier in terms of weight.


Pressure Treated (PT) Wood

As the most economical decking material, pressure-treated wood is the most affordable decking material discussed here. As the most popular decking material, pressure-treated wood is not only easier to cut but also supports the use of simple fastening systems including nails and screws.

Mostly milled from southern yellow pine, PT is treated with chemicals to make it rot and insect resistant. In recent years, the use of non-toxic chemicals has been adopted on most PT decking products for health reasons.

While PT decks are less costly to install, regular maintenance is required to prevent splitting, cracking and warping of the wood. To keep the deck looking as new as possible for as long as possible it should be power washed on an annual basis; while a wood preservative should be applied every 2 to 3 years.


Composite Materials

For those looking for the most durable, stain, insect, and weather-resistant decking material that will not warp, split or even crack, look no further than composite materials. While they may look and feel like real wood, composite materials are made using recycled plastics and wood fibers; some products are solely made of plastic.

Even though composite materials are more expensive than wood, they are fast becoming a popular decking option due to their many advantages.


• Deck Repair Services

In addition to constructing new decks from scratch, we also offer deck repair services in Fort Collins, Colorado. Proper deck maintenance and repair not only ensures that you keep your deck in the best condition even as the years go by, but also protects your investment by extending its durability.

Conclusion

Whether you are hosting guests, taking in the view or simply enjoying a cool breeze, your deck is an integral and personal part of your home. However, to create such a space you need to work with a local partner that understands the local climate and architecture among others. For the best deck construction services in Fort Collins, Colorado, contact us today at 970-663-2868.

Click for more information about our Deck Construction Services