The Barbecue Deck

I’ve written off and on about my plans to build a deck at the back of my house as a home for the new grill the Smoke Wagon. I am happy to report that Phase 1 of the deck is complete, and the results are great!

Deck complete

This all started as an extension of the landing for the stairs down from the back porch, which was sorely in need of repair, and eventually, replacement. The stairs lead down into an area surrounded by a chain link fence, where our dog lives in the warmer months.

Step Zero: Design

So, how big to make this deck? Without taking the fence down, after rebuilding the landing I would have about 14 feet from the current 4-foot wide landing out to the fence.

One thing to consider, of course, was whether I needed to have a building permit, or have the work inspected. As it turns out, in Cobb County, GA, I do not need a permit or inspection if

  • The deck is 144 square feet or smaller
  • The deck is not connected to the house
  • The deck is less than 30 inches off the ground
  • The deck does not have electrical power run to it

So, I decided to build the deck 12 feet by 12 feet, with the deck boards laid perpendicular to the house.

Of course, then the thing to consider was how to support the deck. Living in the South, I have the advantage of no ground movement to speak of, and that is made doubly sure by the nature of the Georgia red clay. So, I really didn’t have to dig any support footers, or pour any concrete, unless I wanted to. I did not.

So some on-line research led me to a really neat product, concrete deck blocks. There is even a web site that will design the deck, and give you the amount of materials needed. So, with the design web site open, and the local home center web site open in another tab, I copied and pasted materials, placed an order, and went to work on the ground while my order was being readied for pickup.

Here’s the tally:

  • (18) Deck blocks
  • (8) 2×10 joists
  • (30) 2×6 floor boards (yes, 2×6, not 5/4 x 2. These are stronger and allow longer joist spans, saving in joists and deck blocks)
  • (4) precut stair stringers
  • (4) joist hangers for the stairs

All told, probably $700 in materials.

STEP 1: Clear the site

Deck Before 1

My first work was to remove the old grill site, made of concrete blocks, and use a string trimmer to knock all the grass down to nothing. It’s not really necessary to strp the whole area, since it will soon be in the dark, and nature will take care of that.

Once I had it clear, I got an email from the home center, and went off to the store to pick up all the materials.


STEP 2: Set the corners

Deck corner stone

I first set the cornerstone of the deck, and made sure it was where the plans said it should be.

Deck second pier



Next came the second corner, which is leveled with the first. There are 2 ways to level the corners, either with 4×4 support up to the joist, or by digging the high corner in, which I chose to do here.

Deck thrid pier

The third corner is then added from the second. As you can see, in this case I used the 4×4 method.

The fourth corner is added the same way, leveled from the first corner.

STEP 3: Set the joists

Deck all joists

Once all 4 corners were set and the joists leveled, I added the two end boards, then all the intermediate joists. Since my deck is 12 feet by 12 feet, using 12 foot boards meant no cutting, and no fitting. Thank you to the mill personnel who keep 12 foot boards exactly 12 feet long – you made my job easier!

STEP 4: Set the remaining deck blocks and level the joists

Deck all piers


Next, the rest of the deck blocks were set in place, and 4×4 supports were cut to bring them all up to the joists, so all the joists were level in both directions. Once they were in place I could start on the easy part, laying the decking, using 2-1/2 inch self drilling deck screws.

STEP 5: Add the decking

Deck decking 1

It went pretty easily from there, except for 4 days of rain in between.

Dek decking 2

Finally, one board remained.

Deck decking 3

STEP 6: Enjoy

Deck complete

Finally, with all the deck boards in place, out came the Smoke Wagon and supporting equipment. Then came the true test on Father’s Day:

Deck fire in the hole


Deck cooking


All in all, a successful project.



The deck took longer than I thought, cost more than I thought, was harder to do (mostly because of lifting everything over the dadgum chain  link fence), but I am very pleased with it all. Looking forward to Phase 2, the stairs (already bought) and Phase 3, the landing.

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