How to Build a Freestanding Deck


This course is offered in partnership with MTCopeland.  Learn how to properly design, frame, and build a code-compliant freestanding deck, and take these skills onsite from start to finished product with expert builder and craftsman Mike Guertin.  With over 100,000 satisfied students and a course catalog of over 1,000 classes, we are here to help you – Invest in Yourself.



The only thing Mike Guertin likes better than building new homes is remodeling old ones. After 40+ years tackling every facet of residential construction from excavation and foundations to interior finish work and tile setting, he’s still challenged every day to find more-efficient ways to build better. Mike worked on his first deck build when he was 15 and fortunately it was less than a foot off the ground so no one got hurt when it fell apart several years later. Now he takes deck building a little more seriously – but only a little bit.

Preview Video

Course Description

This course is designed for first-time deck builders, contractors, and even seasoned trade professionals who want to learn better techniques for their work.


  • How to Build a Deck
  • Deck Joist Spacing
  • Deck Building Code
  • How to Build Deck Stairs
  • Choosing Decking Material
  • How to Frame a Deck

Course Outline

  1. Introduction to Building a Deck

  2. Planning the Deck

  3. Deck Finishes Determine the Framing Plan

  4. Deck Framing Methods

  5. Planning: Deck Joist Span

  6. Planning: Deck Code

  7. Planning: Loads and the Deck Joist Span Table

  8. Planning: Deck Plan Development and Sizing Deck Beams

  9. Planning: Sizing Deck Footings

  10. Deck Framing Plan Review

  11. Deck Framing Options: Ledger Support and Free Standing

  12. Deck Footing Positions

  13. Footing Forms and Checking Grade

  14. Measuring Soil Capacity, Setting Footing Forms, Mixing and Placing Concrete

  15. Post Base Hardware and Anchors

  16. Anchoring Post Bases and Prepping Beneath the Deck

  17. Measuring the Post Height

  18. Installing Beam Posts

  19. Beam Assembly

  20. Post Cap Hardware

  21. Joist Layout on the Beam

  22. Joist Hangers, Hardware Corrosion and Lumber Crowns

  23. Setting Deck Joists

  24. Squaring the Deck Frame

  25. Lateral Bracing and Joist Hanger Functions

  26. Deck Stairs and Capping Joists

  27. Guards and Hand Rails

  28. Fastening the Stair Boxes

  29. Load Paths

  30. Tributary Area for Rim Beam Deck

  31. Tributary Area for Cantilever Deck

  32. Joist Span for Rim Beam Deck

  33. Joist Span for Cantilever Deck

  34. Beam Span

  35. Blocking and Preparing for Finishes

  36. Fascia Installation and Pressure-Treated Lumber

  37. Decking Installation

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