by Dwayne Simington
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Adding a deck to your home creates a beautiful outdoor living space where you can relax and enjoy time with your family and friends. Whether you spend fun-filled evenings barbecuing with your family or simply want to lounge in the sunshine with a good book, a deck can add value and versatility to your home by effectively increasing its usable space.

Having the right tools on hand can make the process of building a deck far easier. Most decking projects require just a few basic tools. However, there are other optional tools that you can use to make the project easier and to get more professional results. The following section takes a closer look at the most essential tools that you need to build a deck. It also provides information on optional tools that you may want to rent or buy to get the best possible results.

Essential Tools

1. A circular saw. These handheld saws make quick work of cutting through lumber. They can be used to make both straight cuts and angled cuts, making them a versatile tool to have on hand for any building project. Most experts recommend going with a saw that has a 7-1/4 inch blade. These saws are large enough to cut through most boards with ease. Use a carbide-tipped blade to get clean cuts without rough edges.

2. A jigsaw. Jigsaws provide a lot of versatility when it comes to cutting curves or sharp angles. Depending on the design of your deck, you will most likely run into some non-standard cuts. Having one of these saws available will help ensure that you can make any type of cut you need to during the building process.

3. A drill. A good drill is essential for decking projects. Every single board on the deck needs to be screwed down with multiple screws. This adds up to a lot of drilling. Because of that, you should choose a high-powered, reliable drill that is lightweight and easy to use.

4. Measuring tools. Precise measurements are a must when building a deck. Along with a standard tape measure, you should also consider investing in a carpenter's square.

5. A shovel or post hole digger. In most areas of the country, the posts that hold up the deck need to be attached to concrete footings that extend below the frost line in order to comply with building codes. These holes can usually be dug by hand using a shovel or post hole digger. To make the project easier, however, you may want to look into renting a power auger.

6. Assorted hand tools. A chalk box for making chalk lines, a level, clamps, pliers, a hammer, a hand saw and an adjustable wrench can also come in handy while working on your deck.

Optional Tools:

1. A miter saw. These saws, which are also sometimes called chop saws, excel at cutting precise angles. They can be useful for cutting railings or other boards that meet at an angle.

2. A small concrete mixer. Depending on the number of post holes that you have to fill, renting a concrete mixer can make the process far easier than trying to mix all of the concrete by hand.

3. A hand sander or random orbit sander. Sanding out any rough areas on the surface of the deck before you stain or paint it can help give a more professional finish.

Having the right tools available can make the deck building process go smoothly and the finished result one you are proud of. Also, keep in mind that renting tools is always an option since it allows you to avoid spending a lot of money on power tools that you may only use once or twice.

About the Author

Dwayne Simington is an established and respected finish carpenter and cabinet maker. His blog, Basic Carpentry Creative Solutions contains helpful advice and useful information for everyone from the novice do-it-yourself enthusiast to the professional carpenter. Visit to learn more.