Cost of Building a Deck: Make an Easy and Inexpensive Deck Plans

Learn how to build a DIY inexpensive deck with plans for a 12 x 12 deck. Start to finish instructions include plan layouts from footings and posts to laying the decking and building the stairs. This article includes cost-saving tips that cut your material expenses.

Deck Building Project
Deck Building Project


Decks are popular outdoor building projects. They increase living space by adding a room made for specifically for relaxation and enjoyment. A deck is a great place for outdoor reading or just sitting and watching a sunset. A DIY deck saves the cost of labor and material markup, cutting the total cost by at least half. Here's how to build a DIY inexpensive deck.


Start by estimating the cost of your deck. Use pressure treated lumber instead of cedar or redwood and use stain to change the color or let it age to silver-gray tone. Some nails and screws are made specifically for use with pressure treated lumber. Bolts, lag bolts and brackets should all be galvanized.

Ledger Board

The deck attaches to the house with a joist called a ledger board which is installed before the footings and posts. The ledger is the starting point for the rest of the deck layout. Attach the ledger to the house with 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch lag bolts and washers. Be sure to install a piece of "Z" flashing under the house siding that sits on top of the ledger.

Ledger Board
Ledger Board

Footings and Posts

Lay out your footings with mason lines and stakes using the ledger as a reference. Dig the footings 10 inches in diameter and make them 6 inches deeper than local codes require so you can add some gravel to the bottom for drainage. Mix your own concrete to save on the cost of premix. When you pour the footings, place a J-bolt in the concrete for adjustable post brackets.

Footing and Post Layout
Footing and Post Layout

The footings support the posts, which support the beams which support the rest of the framing. Use a post level to keep the posts plumb and your mason lines to position them correctly.


Free 12 x 12 DIY Inexpensive Deck Plans Page 1, Page 2

12 x 12 DIY Inexpensive Deck Plans Page 1
12 x 12 DIY Inexpensive Deck Plans Page 1

Page 1 of the plans Includes:
  • Ledger board installation height
  • Footing and post layout
  • Support Beams
  • Joist Framing

12 x 12 DIY Inexpensive Deck Plans Page 2
12 x 12 DIY Inexpensive Deck Plans Page 2

Page 2 of the plans for a 12 x 12 deck Includes:
  • Adding Railing Posts
  • Decking Installation
  • Railing Constructions


Beams sit on top of posts for the greatest strength and support the rest of the joist frame. Attach beams to posts with post to beam brackets. Most beams are two pieces of joist lumber nailed together.


Joists attach to the ledger on one side and the end joist on the other. The end joist sits on top of the end support beam. Place joists every 16 inches on center and attach them using joist hangers on both ends.

Rail Posts

Plan railing posts so they are equal distances apart which makes baluster spacing the same around the deck. Attach railing posts in the corners using 1/2-inch carriage bolts through the end and rim joists. Middle posts use two bolts through the rim joist. Railings must be either 36 or 42 inches high, depending on the height of the deck.


Using 2-by-6 lumber for the decking saves a bit on the cost of deck boards. The decking runs parallel to the ledger board across the joists. You'll need to make cut-outs to fit around the posts and space the boards 1/8-inch apart. Attach the decking to the joists with 2 1/2-inch deck screws.

Decking Installation
Decking Installation


Railings consist of four parts: The posts, 2-by-4 top and bottom rails, and balusters. Optionally, you can add a cap rail for a more finished look. Cut the top and bottom rails so they fit between the posts and attach with 2-by-4 brackets. Install 2-by-2 balusters evenly spaced on the rails.


Stairs with railings and hand rails don't need to complicate a DIY inexpensive deck project. Measure and calculate the number of steps and step risers. Mark and cut the stringers, then install using stringer hangers or 2-by-12 joist hangers. Add posts, stair treads, railings and hand rails to finish. Read about deck stair measurements, layout and plans with railings and hand rails.

Cutting Deck Stair Stringers
Cutting Deck Stair Stringers


Deck Building 101: You Can Do It Yourself

You can build a deck yourself. We've got tips, construction drawings, plans, cost estimating and more in this series on building decks. You'll find the information you need to turn your dream of outdoor living space into reality.

  1. Tips for Deck Building
  2. Directions For Deck Stairs Hand Rails
  3. Make an Easy and Inexpensive Deck
  4. Deck Stair Building: Stringer Attachment Methods
  5. How to Determine Deck Framing Lumber Sizes