Posts Tagged ‘building’

How to build a planter box

Step 1: Build the Frames

Build the top and bottom frames out of the 1×2 cedar strips. You’ll be butting the ends together, so no mitering will be necessary. Fasten two 26″ strips to two 13″ strips to form each rectangular frame. (You’ll need to ensure that the length remains 26″; to do this, butt the ends of the shorter strip against the longer strips. The thickness of the two longer strips will add an inch to each end of the shorter strips, increasing their length to 16″. Do this at each end of the longer strips to form a rectangular frame 26″ long and 16″ wide.) Apply a bead of wood glue to the junctions of the strips; then nail together with a single nail in each junction in preparation for inserting screws to hold them more securely. Predrill the ends prior to screwing them together; this helps keep the ends from splitting. Then insert a screw in each corner.

Step 2: Attach the Side Panels

Stand the two frames on their sides and apply a bead of wood glue to the inside face of the bottom side frames (the long sides). Attach four side panels to each long side, smooth sides out, and nail from the inside to hold them in place. Make sure the frames are flush with the panel ends on at least one side, or the bottom panels won’t fit properly. If the panels are jagged on the other side, you can always smooth them with a trim saw later.
Because you’re nailing from the inside, you may have to drive the nails at a slight angle. The advantage of this is that it conceals the nailheads from the exterior face of the window box. Repeat on the other side of the box.

Step 3: Attach the End Panels

Stand the half-completed box on its end and apply a bead of wood glue to the inside face of the bottom end frames. Attach two panels to each end in the same manner that you used to attach the side panels, once again ensuring that the ends are flush on the bottom. Repeat the process on the opposite end.

Step 4: Attach the Bottom Panels

Check and adjust your box for square if necessary. Attach three bottom panels to form the base of the planter box, using wood glue and screws. The base will reinforce and brace the box. Drill several holes in the panels so that water can escape, or simply leave a gap between the panels.

Step 5: Finish the Box

Lightly sand any rough edges and corners to smooth out splinters. If you wish, you can stain, seal or prime and paint your planter to suit your home’s decor. Because you used cedar, however, it can stay unfinished: cedar is one of the best lumbers you can use for exterior applications. This planter is a good size for potted plants, but you may wish to add a plastic liner and fill it with soil (add a layer of gravel first). If you do, don’t forget to cut holes in the liner to line up with the drainage holes in the bottom of the planter.

Growing a Vertical Garden

Vertical garden




  • Start any gardening project in spring, when air temperatures rise to 60 degrees F. Vertical garden vegetables don’t need warm soil, but do require frost-free nights.

  • 2

    Choose your wall for the garden. Put the vertical garden in a spot that gets full sunshine all day, with good air circulation and protection from any drying winds.

  • 3

  • Use deep, sturdy rain gutters for the vertical garden, to give vegetables room for growth and support. Cut the rain gutters to fit on the wall you choose, and build at least three to four “stories” of gardening space. Drill holes every 10 inches in the bottom of the gutters, to ensure drainage.

  • 4

    Secure the gutters to the wall with eye hooks, screws or nails every 6 inches. Leave 2 to 3 feet of space between each layer of gutters to give the plants room to grow.

  • 5

    Mix organic compost, peat moss and potting soil in equal parts as your planting mix. This mix gives the vegetables plenty of nutrition and drainage. Fill the gutters full of your mixture, then turn starter fertilizer such as 6-24-24 or 8-32-16 into the top 4 inches of soil to provide more nutrition.

  • 6

    Plant small, compact vegetables in a vertical garden to minimize space usage and avoid stressing the structure. Plant lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, herbs, beets, peas, carrots, garlic, onions and radishes. Choose only small tomato, cucumber, bean and pepper cultivars. Also plant flowers in with vegetables to make the garden more attractive.

How to Turn a Pallet into a Garden

Post image for How to Turn a Pallet into a Garden

Good news and bad news. I had planned to film a short video showing you how to make a pallet garden, but the weather didn’t cooperate. I was stapling the landscape fabric onto the pallet when it started drizzling and got really windy. That’s the bad news. But I know I promised a tutorial today, so I took photos and have kept my word to share how to make the pallet garden. I tried to be as detailed as possible. That’s the good news.

So keep reading my pallet loving friends, instructions on how to make your own pallet garden are just a few lines away…

Find a Pallet

The first thing you need to do is–obviously–find a pallet. I’ve had good luck finding them in dumpsters behind supermarkets. No need to be squeamish. It doesn’t smell. At least, it doesn’t smell that bad.  Don’t just take the first pallet you find. You’re looking for one with all the boards in good condition, no nails sticking out, no rotting, etc. If you intend to put edibles in your pallet, be sure to find one that was heat treated as opposed to fumigated with pesticides.

Collect Your Supplies

For this project, you’ll need the pallet you found, 2 large bags of potting soil, 16 six packs of annual flowers (one six pack per opening on the face of the pallet, and two six packs per opening on the top of the completed pallet garden), a small roll of landscape fabric, a staple gun, staples, and sand paper.

Get Your Pallet into Shape

Once you’ve dragged your pallet home, give it a once over. Are any of the boards a little loose? Is the wood chipping in places? Nail down any loose boards, and use sand paper to smooth down any rough spots.

Let the Stapling Begin!

Decide which side of the pallet will be the bottom when the pallet garden is completed and leaning against the wall. You are going to be covering the bottom, back, and sides with landscape fabric, leaving  the spaces between the slats and the top uncovered (you’ll be planting flowers in the uncovered spaces).

Lay the pallet face down. Roll the landscape fabric over the back. Cut two identically sized pieces that are long enough to go from the top edge of the back of the pallet and wrap all the way around the bottom, plus a few extra inches.

Hold the two pieces of landscape fabric together as if they were one piece of fabric. Fold over the top edge by one inch and center it on the top board of the back of the pallet. Staple the fabric into place near the top edge of the top board. Smooth the fabric out to the left and right and pull it taut. Staple the fabric down on the top, right edge of the top board. Repeat on the left side. Fill in between those three staples with one staple every two inches along the top edge of the top board.

When the top of the landscape fabric is securely attached to the top, back board, smooth the fabric down, and repeat the process along the bottom edge of the bottom board, except don’t fold the fabric under, leave a long flap on the bottom.

Pulling the fabric tautly along the bottom, fold the cut edge under, and staple the fabric down along the front edge of the bottom. Smooth the fabric out to the left and right and staple every two inches along the front edge of the bottom.

Now for the sides. Start near the bottom and fold the excess fabric inwards as if you were wrapping a present. Fold the cut edge of the fabric under and staple it down near the front, bottom edge of the side facade. Smooth the fabric out and place a staple every two inches along the front edge of the side of the pallet. The fabric should be taut but not in danger of tearing. Repeat on the other side of the pallet.

You should now have a pallet with landscape fabric wrapped around the sides, back, and bottom. Place more staples along the spine of the back side of the pallet, and anywhere else you think the fabric needs to be held down so that soil can’t creep into places you don’t want it to go.

Now for the Fun Part–Planting!

Bring the pallet close to wherever it’s final spot will be and lay it down face up. You’re going to plant it while it’s laying flat on the ground.

First slide the plants into what will be the top. Plant everything very tightly, you should have to practically shoe horn the last plant into place. Now that you have capped the top, pour the entire first bag of potting soil on top of the pallet. Push the soil into the pallet between the slats and smooth it out so that the soil is level. Repeat with the second bag of potting soil.

Push potting soil into the bottom cavity, so that there is a trench directly below one of the bottom openings. Plant six plants in the trench, so that they are very tightly fitted into the opening. Repeat with the other bottom opening. Now push the potting soil up against those flowers you just planted, making a trench beneath one of the openings in the second row. Plant your flowers tightly in that opening. Repeat for all the remaining openings.

When you’re done planting, you should have plants that are completely covering every opening (i.e. there shouldn’t be any place for soil to fall out). There should also be soil firmly pushed into every part of the pallet where there aren’t plants.

Caring For your Pallet

Now, I’m going to tell you what you should do, and I what I always end up doing (which is what you should not do). You should leave the pallet flat on the ground for a couple of weeks (watering when needed), so that the roots can start to grow in and hold all the plants in place. I can never wait though, so I always tip the pallet upright a few days after planting. Some soil does fall out, but it seems to be okay. But I think it would be better if you left it to settle and only tipped it upright after a few weeks. Do as I say, not as I do.

Water your pallet regularly, they dry out quickly. Pay special attention to the bottom two openings, they seem to be the driest. Fertilize with water soluble fertilizer added to your watering can (follow package instructions for amount and frequency).

Basic Four Square Rotation Garden Design


Divide your garden square into four by drawing a cross inside it. You now have a diagram of four square beds that you’ll use as a plan for your very own vegetable garden design. The four beds are for the four main groups of vegetable crops. The plants are divided into four categories based on the amount of nutrients that they need to flourish. Below is an example of these categories.

 Heavy feeders: These heavy feeders demand a lot of nitrogen. Examples of these are the large leafed plants like lettuce, corn, and even the vine crops like squash.

Middle Feeders: These middle-of-the-road feeders are the mid sized leafed plants with above-ground fruits like tomatoes and peppers.

Light Feeders: These feeders include the root crops like turnips and carrots. They like potash in the soil.

Soil Builders: These types leave more nitrogen in the soil than they take out. Examples of these are the legumes like peas and beans.

 How to Rotate

Vegetable garden design

Vegetable Garden Crop Rotation Plan


  • Each of the four types mentioned above goes into one of squares that you’ve diagrammed, called beds. 
  • From top-left and counter-clockwise; Heavy Feeders, Middle Feeders, Light Feeders and the Soil Builders. 
  • After every harvest and when replanting each season, you rotate each group to the next square, to reduce pests and soil problems. 
  • Make sure that when you rotate these four types, they always follow the same order given here. 
  • This means, that when you move the Heavy Feeders, they go to the Soil Builder’s previous position. 
  • The Middle Feeders move up to the Heavy Feeders’ former position, etc.Try to imagine a baseball game where in your players occupy bases. Each year you move the location of each plant group by one space, changing the location of your plant types.

    Another benefit of this kind of rotation is that the Heavy Feeders will grow better by transferring to the Soil Builder’s former spot which gives them more of the nutrients they require to flourish.

  • Building outside stairs

    Building a stairway can be one of the most intimidating tasks any builder-amateur or professional-tackles. But an outdoor stairway is generally not a difficult project, as long as it is planned and executed carefully. This document covers building procedures for a straight-run utility stairway, typically used on porches and decks.

    Local building codes regulate the width and slope of a staircase, as well as how the assembly is supported and braced, how the landing is built and whether railings are required. ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL BUILDING DEPARTMENT BEFORE DESIGNING A STAIRWAY, AND FOLLOW ALL LOCAL CODES.

    The following instructions are intended as general guidelines only, and local requirements should be your primary guide.

    In this document you will find information about:

    • Stair-Building Terms
    • Designing Your Stairs
    • Building Your Stairs


    • There are five basic design elements you’ll need to consider when planning outdoor stairs:
    • The Total Run (see image) is the total horizontal distance covered by the staircase, from the edge of the upper floor (porch or deck) to the edge of the staircase where it rests on the landing.
    • The Total Rise (see image) is the total vertical distance from the surface of the landing to a point level with the surface of the upper floor (Note: You can’t find the rise simply by measuring straight down from the upper floor because the ground directly below may not be level with the landing).

    • Run (see image) is the horizontal distance from the leading edge of one tread to the leading edge of the next tread.
    • Rise (see image) is the vertical distance from the surface of one tread to the surface of the next tread.
    • Passage Width (see image) is the width of the stairway.
    • The ratio of the total rise to total run (or rise to run) determines the slope of the stairway. As a rule, that slope should be between 30 degrees and 35 degrees; an outdoor stairway may be slightly shallower but should not be steeper. The ideal riser height is 7″ with an 11″ run-which also works out well with standard lumber widths-but you may have to vary the proportions somewhat to make the height of each step work out evenly between the landing and the upper floor.
    • The passage width can also vary, depending on how heavily you expect the stairs to be used. As a rule, 36″ is the minimum; 48″ is better for a single person, and you may want to go to 60″ to allow room for two people to pass comfortably.
    • A stairway consists of four basic components:

    • Stringers (see image above) are the sloped members that support the stairway. 2x10s are generally allowed for stairs with four treads or fewer, but 2x12s are sturdier.
    • In most cases, you’ll need good quality material with no large knots, either pressure treated or cut from heart redwood or cedar, to resist decay. Stringers should be placed no more than 24″ apart if the treads will be 5/4 material or 36″ apart for 2″-thick lumber.
    • Treads (see image above) are the horizontal members that you walk on. When building an outdoor stairway, they are typically cut from the same material as the upper floor deck or porch-5/4″ pressure-treated pine or 2″-thick lumber.
    • Risers (see image above) are the vertical members at the back of each tread. 1″ surfaced boards (3/4″ net thickness) are the most common material used.
    • The Railing Assembly (see image) consists of posts, a cap rail and vertical balusters between each post. 4×4 is the most common post material with a 2×4 handrail. Codes regulate the overall height of the railing assembly (usually 30″ to 34″) and may specify a maximum width for the handrail.


    • To design the stairway, first find the total rise. Divide that number by 7 (the ideal riser height) to find the number of steps. You’ll probably have a fractional remainder, so round your result up or down to the nearest whole number.
    • Then divide the total rise by that number to find the exact height of each riser. For example:
      • Total rise = 40-1/2″
      • 40-1/2″ divided by 7″ per riser = 5.78 risers
      • Round 5.78 up to 6 risers, then 40-1/2″ divided by 6 = 6.75″ or 6-3/4″ per riser
    • This document assumes that the total run is not limited, so you can make the assembly as long as you want. Use the following table to determine the width of the treads, depending on your riser height.
    Riser Height Run Width
    6″ 14″
    6-1/4″ 13-1/2″
    6-1/2″ 13″
    6-3/4″ 12-1/2″
    7″ 12″
    7-1/4″ 11-1/2″
    7-1/2″ 11″
    • To find the amount of material needed for risers, simply multiply the number of risers by the passage width. To find the amount of tread material, subtract 1 from the number of risers (you’ll need one fewer tread than risers) and multiply by the passage width. Remember to double up if you’ll be using two boards for each tread.
    • To find the length of the stringers, you’ll need a calculator with a square root function. First, find the total run (number of treads multiplied by the width of each tread).
    • Then find the square of the total run (total run multiplied by itself) and the square of the total rise and add them together.
    • The square root of the result gives you the exact stringer length; round up to the nearest standard lumber length, then multiply by the number of stringers you’ll need.


    • To build the staircase, first notch the stringers for the treads and risers. Fasten two stair gauges to a carpenter’s square at the dimensions of the rise and run (for example, at 6-1/2″ on one leg and 13″ on the other). Set the square on the stringer so the gauges are flush against the edge and trace the notch along the edge of the square (see image).

    • “Step” your way down the stringer, repeating the process until you have laid out the correct number of notches. Use the carpenter’s square to lay out the top cut on the stringer. The height of the last riser should be less than the others by an amount equal to the thickness of the tread. That way, when you nail the last tread in place, the step down to the lower floor will be equal to the others.
    • You can set the stringer directly on the lower floor (typically a landing pad) and bolt it in place with a piece of angle iron, or bolt a length of pressure-treated 2×6 to the floor and nail the stringer to it.
    • If you plan to set the stringer on a 2×6, you may have to notch the bottom of the stringer to allow for that piece.
    • Once the stringer is laid out, cut the notches partway only, using a circular saw. Take care not to cut beyond the layout lines. Finish the cuts with a handsaw.

    • Once you have one stringer finished, set it in place to make sure it is cut correctly, then use it as a template to lay out your cuts on the other stringers.
    • You can hang the stringers to the rim joist with joist hangers (see image), or bolt them in place to a joist (see image below). If you need to pour a concrete landing pad at the bottom of the stairway, set the stringers in place temporarily and lay out the location of the pad. Pour the pad and set anchor bolts for the angle iron or 2×6 base. Instructions for pouring concrete are in another brochure in this series.
    • Once the landing pad is cured, secure the stringers at the top and bottom. Rip the risers to the same width as the height of the riser cut in the stringers. Then cut them to length and nail them to the stringers with 8d galvanized nails.
    • Measure the distance from the face of the riser to the edge of the notch cut, then rip the treads to width so they extend 1″ to 1-1/8″ beyond the edge of the notch. If you’re using two boards side by side as treads, rip half the dimension from each board so both will be the same width. Cut the treads to length and nail them to the stringer with 16d galvanized nails.

    • To build the railing, first secure 4×4 posts at the top and bottom of the stringer. Notch the posts 1-1/2″ deep and bolt them to the sides of the stringers with 1/2×4-1/2 hex bolts, using a level to keep them plumb. Use decay-resistant lumber for the posts. They should be at least long enough to extend 36″ above the surface of the treads. Leave them a few inches too long at the top so you can cut them after they are in place.
    • Measure from the bottom of the stringer up the posts to the location of the top and bottom rails. The top surface of the upper rail should be 30″ to 34″ above the tread; the rail should be about 6″ above the tread. Lay the railing material against the posts and lay out angled cuts for any rails that will be fastened between the posts.
    • Cut the railings to length and toenail them with four 8d galvanized nails. If you’ll be using balusters, cut them to length and nail them to the rails. Check local codes for spacing requirements on balusters.
    2×10 Stringers 1×8 Risers
    5/4″ or 2″ Tread Material 2×6 Pressure-Treated Cleat
    Angle Iron Anchor Bolts
    Hex Bolts 16d Galvanized Nails
    8d Galvanized Nails 4×4 Posts
    2″ Railing Material Baluster Material
    Hammer Carpenter’s Square
    Measuring Tape Adjustable Wrench
    Joist Hangers

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Design a Deck


    A deck is a popular home improvement that not only adds to the value of your home, but provides a focal point for enjoying the outdoors. You’ll want to carefully consider the design elements that go into your deck-it should include the features that match your lifestyle and complement the design of your house. Planning is the most important part of building a deck because, chances are, you’ll be living with your design for a long time.

    There are three main considerations when planning a deck. Several questions must be answered in each topic. This document explains each topic and provides the background information you’ll need to make informed choices.

    How You Plan to Use Your Deck-The most important consideration in deck design is how you will use it. Do you entertain frequently, and if so, how large a group will you need space for? What kind of seating will you need-would you or your guests be more comfortable on built-in benches or patio furniture? Do you want the space arranged to accommodate conversations between small groups or in one large common area? Will you need adequate lighting to entertain at night?
    Try to imagine all the ways you’d like to use your deck, because most design elements will be based on those kinds of preferences.

    Location-Chances are, the size and orientation of your property and house limit you to one or two deck locations. But within those limits, you may have more choices than you think. You may be able to add a door, build a walkway or incorporate a privacy screen that will allow you to locate your deck so it is most convenient for your intended uses.
    The climate in your area and the views you’ll see are the major factors to consider when deciding where to place your deck. A northside deck will probably be the coolest location. Southern or western orientations may be too warm in the middle of the summer, unless you include an overhead screen or build the deck around an existing shade tree.
    You may be able to avoid prevailing winds by locating your deck where the house will provide some protection. Likewise, careful placement can minimize traffic noise, eliminate unwanted views or provide additional privacy. If you plan to include a hot tub or swimming pool in your plans, privacy considerations for you and your guests may be very important.

    Legal Considerations-Before you decide on a location, first check local zoning ordinances. They will limit the overall size of your deck, height of any privacy screens and the minimum distance from your deck to your lot lines. Neighborhood or subdivision covenants may restrict the appearance of the structure, and you’ll have to get approval for your design.
    Also, check with the local building department to find out whether you’ll be required to have a building permit and what kind of plans you’ll have to submit. Finally, be sure to check with your local utility companies to make sure you won’t run afoul of utility rights-of-way and to locate buried pipes and utility lines.

    Size-You can build any size deck you want within legal limits. But even within those limits, a deck can be either too big or too small. The most important consideration (aside from cost) is use, but a huge deck can look out of place next to a small house, just as a tiny deck looks wrong with a big house. If you think your dream deck is too large for your house, break up the expanse by building smaller sections on multiple levels.
    To test your ideas, measure the size you want on your lawn. Drive 4′ stakes at the approximate corners, then tie string between them at about the height of the railings. Set your lawn furniture in the area to get an idea of how the space will work. The most common mistake people make is building a deck too small. The diference in cost between a deck that is a little too small and one that is the right size usually isn’t that much.
    One tip: If possible, size your deck in 2′ or 4′ increments. You’ll have to buy standard lumber lengths anyway, and there’s no point in wasting that material when you could have a larger deck for the same amount of money.


    Shape and Decking Patterns-A deck can be any shape you want, and in fact, simple changes like an angled corner or a 45-degree decking pattern can dress up a house with a long, plain wall. Of course, a more complicated deck is more difficult to build and may require more materials. You can also add visual interest by wrapping the deck around a corner, adding built-in benches, integrating a fence or screen on one side or even adding an overhead screen.

    Height-Usually, the decking should come to within 2 ” of the bottom of the access door from the house, with steps leading from the deck to the ground. On sloped ground, you may want to build your deck in multiple levels to follow the slope. Typically, wherever the deck is more than 48″ off the ground, codes require that the posts be braced to prevent swaying and racking.

    Cutouts-A spa or hot tub can be set on the deck if the structure is reinforced to carry the weight of the water, or it can be set directly on a concrete slab on the ground with the deck built around it. Existing trees and rocks can also be integrated into the deck by framing around them; then either cap the ends of the decking or contour the decking to the shape of the obstacle. If you work around a tree, leave at least 3″ on all sides to allow for growth. Around a stationary object such as a boulder, leave about 1/4″ so the decking can expand and contract with temperature and moisture changes.
    Railings-Railings are the most prominent visual element in a deck and offer great opportunity to use your imagination and creativity. They may be fastened to posts that run all the way to the ground, along the sides of the rim joists or attached to the decking itself. They may include wood, metal or even rope-nearly anything that satisfies structural requirements.
    Your railing design will be limited primarily by building code regulations that are designed to ensure safety. Typically, those codes state that support posts may be no more than 6′ apart, and that the railing may have no spaces larger than 4″ x 4″. The durability of your railing will also be affected by the design. For example, the ends of the railing posts should be covered or cut at an angle to shed water, to minimize cracking and splitting.
    Steps and Stairs-Step and stair construction is closely regulated by building codes. As a rule, steps and stairs should be at least 36″ wide-60″ if you want two people to be able to pass each other comfortably. The rise (vertical distance between steps) should be no more than 7-1/2″ and the width of a tread at least 10″. The slope should not be too steep-a 7″ riser with a 10-1/2″ tread is a common combination. Building codes will also govern how the stair is supported and attached and whether or not you need a railing.
    Structural Components-There are five basic components of a typical deck:
    Vertical posts are set in concrete or on piers set on a concrete footing. They are typically spaced 4′ to 8′ apart.
    Horizontal beams are set on the posts parallel to the decking to carry the weight of the deck.
    Joists are run between the beams, typically 16″ or 24″ apart. They distribute the weight of the deck and allow you to use decking boards that wouldn’t be strong enough to span the distance between the beams.
    Decking is laid over the joists to form the “floor” of the deck.
    Railings are usually 36″ to 42″ high, designed so no spaces between balusters are greater than 4″.
    The materials used, and the size and spacing of these components, are specified by local building codes.
    Materials-Deck materials must not only be resistant to decay and insect damage but also withstand the effects of water and sun. Standard construction lumber such as fir, pine or spruce may be treated to protect it from rot, but it won’t hold up under extreme weather conditions or the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.

    You’ll get much better durability by using pressure-treated pine, redwood or cedar. Pressure-treated material is the least expensive and can be stained to nearly any color you want. Redwood and cedar offer an added advantage in that they are soft, fine-grained woods that will resist splintering. If you use redwood or cedar, remember that only the heartwood-the reddish-colored portion of redwood or the dark brownish-orange part of a cedar board-is decay-resistant. The lighter-colored sapwood will deteriorate just as quickly as pine or spruce.

    Once you have a rough idea of what you want, draw two sketches-one of your lot, showing the deck as part of your landscaping plan, and one of your design. Use graph paper, making each square equal a given dimension (for example, each square may equal 1′ on your lot plan, or 3″ on your design) to get all the components roughly to scale. Take the sketch to your local home center or lumberyard and ask a salesperson to estimate and price the materials you’ll need.

    TOOL AND MATERIAL CHECKLIST 100′ Measuring Tape 25′ Measuring Tape
    Graph Paper Ruler
    4′ Wood Stakes Hammer
    Mason’s String

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Build a kids’ clubhouse

    How to Build The Ace Clubhouse

    Every child dreams of having their very own special hideaway. With assistance from the helpful hardware folks at Ace Hardware you can make this dream come true! Just follow these step-by-step instructions to build the coolest clubhouse in the neighborhood!

    This is a great opportunity to share your carpentry skills with your child or to learn along with him. With that in mind, we have designed a clubhouse that the two of you can build together. Keep in mind that there are a few stages (such as raising the walls and roof) that require a second adult. This clubhouse is Deluxe with a capital D. It will take a few days to build, so its best to begin when you have a three- or four-day weekend available. This way you can complete the final steps of roofing and painting, without having to worry too much about the weather. If you think you’ ll be spreading the project over a few weekends, you’ ll need a 15′ x 15′ plastic tarp to cover your progress.

    A variety of tools can be used for this project, but we found a few especially helpful. Our table saw came in handy for making the angle cuts for the studs and rafters (but you can use a circular saw if that’s what you have). Also a portable jigsaw and cordless drill make things a lot easier.

    The tools and hardware you need are available at your local Ace Hardware store. And if you have any questions, just ask one of the helpful hardware folks while you’re there.


    (4) 4’x5/8″ plywood sheets
    (4) sheets of 5/8″ paneling plywood (grooves)
    (34) 2×3″x8′-0″ wall studs
    (30) 1″x3″x8′-0″ common pine boards
    (2) 1″x4″x8′-0″ common pine boards
    (6) 2″x6″x8′-0″ studs
    (1) 2″x6″x8′-0″ wood stud
    (4) 3″ door hinge
    1 gallon Ace white latex outdoor house paint
    1 gallon Ace yellow latex outdoor house paint
    2 boxes of 2″ wood screws
    1 box of 3″ wood screws
    (8) galvanized rafter hangers
    1 box #8 galvanized nails
    2 door hooks
    10 outdoor deck spindles
    3 flats asphalt roofing shingles
    (1) roll 15 lb. roofing felt
    (2) 3″ ball fence post finials
    Paint brushes
    Circular or hand saw
    Cordless drill or screwdriver
    Step One: Floor

    Your clubhouse will have an 8′ x 4′ “footprint”; find a site this size that is level. If you need to, level a slight grade with a rake. Next start framing out the floor. Make a box on the ground using two of the 8′ 2″ x 3″ s set on edge and two 2″ x 3″s cut to 3′ 9″. Fasten these together at each corner with two 3″ screws. This will give you a box exactly 8′ x4′ , the same size as your plywood flooring. Evenly space six additional 3′ 9″ 2″x3″s and fasten with 3″ screws to complete the flooring framework (see photo 1). Place a sheet of plywood on top of the framework and fasten in place with 2″ screws.

    Step Two: Framing the Walls

    The easiest way to do this is to begin with the plywood paneling, and use this as a guide for the placement of the studs. The front and back walls (with the door openings) are exactly the same, as are the two side walls. Begin with one of the front walls. Cut two pieces of paneling at 4’x2’x6″. These will be used on either side of the doorway, so remember to have the panel grooves running horizontally. (You will also want the tongue of the paneling at the top so that it will accept the groove of the piece that will run above the door for the entire length of the house.) Next, use your jigsaw to cut the window holes. This will leave you with two approximately U-shaped pieces of paneling. Now, rip another piece of paneling 8′ long and 1′ 3-1/4″ wide, parallel with the panel grooves, for the top of the wall. Before going any further, it’s a good idea to cut the notches for the four rafters into this top piece. Each notch is 1-1/2″ wide and 5-1/4″ deep. The two end notches have centers 12″ from each end. The two center notches have centers 2′ from the end notches.

    Now it’s time for the studs. There are six 2″ x 3″ studs. Each is cut to a 35 degree angle so that the longest side is 5′ 1-7/8″ Place an uncut 2″ x 3″ x 8′ on the ground on edge. This will be the footer running the length of the wall. Then place four studs perpendicular to the footer, and space them out so that when you cover them with the two pieces of side paneling, you have a stud in either corner and one on either side of the doorway. Screw the paneling to the studs using 2″ screws, and attach the studs to the footer using the 3″ screws. We’ve chosen to double the corner studs for added strength. Stand the wall upright and screw a second stud beside each corner stud. While the wall is still upright, finish framing out the windows and the door header as seen in photo 2. Repeat this for the rear wall.

    The side walls will be overlapped by the front and back walls. Because our floor is 4′ wide in total, you must cut your first piece of paneling to 3′ 6″ wide. Again, use your jigsaw to cut a window notch, leaving you with a U-shaped panel 4′ tall. The side wall studs are a little trickier because they have to be cut to fit into the gable of the roof peak. This means that the two corner studs will have to be shorter than the two in the center. Again, the top of each stud should be cut at a 35° angle, but this time the angle should run left to right across the 2″ side. A footer will run all the way across the side walls, 3′ 6″. As with the front wall, arrange your footer and studs on the ground, and place your piece of paneling over them. (Note: because you must allow room for the front and rear wall studs, you must set your corner studs 3″ in from each edge.) Screw your footer, studs and paneling together.

    To save on paneling, we took the leftover piece cut from the front wall to make the upper portion of the side wall. There is an aesthetic benefit to this as well since the panel grooves will run vertically above the window, giving the clubhouse a barn-like appearance on each end. This piece should be cut to the same 3′ 6″ width. Now you must cut the peak. Although it is all one piece, you can picture this as a triangle sitting on top of a rectangle to make the measurements easier. Cut the panel and attach to the studs above the window. Finish framing out the window as shown in photo 3. Repeat for the other side wall.

    You will need the help of another adult to assemble the four walls on the flooring. Stand the front wall upright on the floor and bring one of the side walls into place. Using 3″ screws, attach the walls to each other as well as the flooring. Continue this process with the rear wall and the remaining side wall.

    Step 3: Building the roof

    Various portions of the roof will require two adults to complete. The center roof beam is made from an uncut 2″ x 6″ x 8′ . You must attach the roof beam from the peak of one side wall to the other. Raise it as high as it will go without protruding above the side walls, and screw it into place through the side wall paneling on both sides. Next, attach the eight angled joist hangers to the roof beam in an arrangement corresponding to the notches you cut in the front and rear walls (as described above).

    The rafters are also 2″ x 6″s, each with an end cut to 60 degrees in order to meet the roof beam. We chose to cut our rafters so they would be more or less even with the edge of the roof at 3′ 1-1/2″ Using the jigsaw, we cut a simple scroll curve to the end for decorative effect (See photo 4). You may want your rafters to extend beyond the edge of the roof, or you may want them hidden short of the roof. Therefore the length of the rafters can vary depending on your taste. Once you have the 8 rafters cut, slip them into the joist hangers and through the notches you cut in the front and rear walls. Before you screw it into place, you should check to see that the rafter is flush with the top of the wall where it passes through the notch. If the rafter sits too high, there will be a gap between the roof and the wall. If you need to, you can cut the notch a little deeper with a hand saw. When all the rafters fit flush, screw them into the joist hangers (See photo 5). This is a good time to remind you not to worry if a few things don’t fit perfectly. Regardless of your skill level, it’s pretty common for there to be gaps here and there with all these angle cuts, and after all, that’s why they invented trim.

    For added support, we attached 2″ x 6″ pieces to the inside walls between the studs. You can attach the rafters to these using the L-brackets (See photo 6).

    Now you are ready for the roof. As with the rafters, the extent of roof overhang is a matter of taste. You’ll need a second adult for this part anyway, so you might want to experiment with different looks by sliding a piece of plywood back and forth on the rafters. Your child is the ultimate foreman on this job, so once he or she approves, simply cut the plywood to fit, and attach to the rafters using 2″ screws.

    Step 4: Shingles, Trim and Paint

    To protect the roof before shingling, it is important to cover it with roofing felt. Cut one piece for the bottom of each side and staple them into place. Use another sheet to cover the peak, overlapping the two side pieces. Shingling is relatively easy; just make sure you have a ladder tall enough to allow you to reach the peak without having to lean too far out. Shingles come in various styles, so follow the manufacturers instructions on the package. In general, you will want to allow enough overlap to keep rain from getting under them to the plywood (See photo 7). Once you have nailed all the shingles in place, check to make sure none of the nails are protruding through to the inside. Any nail points coming through should be carefully hammered over, or cut off using a portable grinder.

    Shingling Instructions

    Starting at one of the bottom corners, attach a shingle with two roofing nails. Then work your way across the bottom edge of the roof, butting each new shingle evenly against the last. You will need to cut the last one to make it even with the side edge of the roof. Just score it with a utility knife and snap it. The second row overlaps the first. The felt has lines running across to let you know how far to overlap each row. Just make sure you stagger the shingles so the seams don’t line up and allow water to penetrate to your roof. (Like laying bricks). Do this for both sides up to the peak. For the peak itself, we cut our shingles in three pieces (at the slots). Fold them across the peak and nail at the corners. You can start at each end, overlapping toward the center, or just work from one end across to the other. Another option is a pre-fabricated peak cover.

    We chose plain 1″ x 3″ boards for the trim around the windows and doors. With plain boards, you can simply cut the pieces to long enough to overlap on the top and bottom. For something a little more decorative, you might want to try your hand at one of the various molding styles available. If you decide to use molding, just make sure you have a miter box, or a chop saw that can be set to 45° for the corners. You can also dress up the corners of the clubhouse in this same way.

    The foreman on our job (Stuart, age 8-1/2) wanted a few extra touches to his clubhouse to give it a special look. We used the jigsaw to cut a simple scallop pattern into the 1″ x 4″ boards, and screwed them under the gable end of the roof on each side (See photo 8). The gates on each door were created by making a box from the leftover 1″ x 3″ trim pieces, then cutting and fitting the deck spindles. When measuring your gate size, make sure you allow enough roof for the door to swing open without rubbing the jam. Hang each gate using two 3″ hinges, and attach one of the hooks to the other side. Two wooden ball finials attached to the roof peak finished things off.

    All that is left is painting. This is where a foreman of any age can really get to work. The clubhouse will be outside in the weather for many years, so be sure to cover all exposed wood surfaces thoroughly with two coats of latex outdoor house paint. And try not to drip too much on each other!

    Ace hardware is happy to provide these instructions. Use them as a guide to get started, and feel free to embellish them with any touches your carpentry skills permit. Just remember to be safe, have fun, and stop by the friendly hardware folks at Ace for all the tools, supplies and know-how you need to build the ultimate dream clubhouse!

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Building Your Deck

    Once you have determined the basic design of your deck, the next step is to choose your materials. The most common choices are pressure-treated (P/T) lumber (usually Southern pine), redwood, or cedar. As a rule, pressure-treated lumber is the best choice for the substructure; the species you use for the visible parts of the deck will depend on your budget and the look you want.

    The span tables in this document will help you determine how much material you need, based on the species you choose. Although there is no such thing as an “average” deck, these instructions assume that your deck is attached to the house, is no more than 6″ off the ground, and has no special load requirements. All design recommendations below are suggestions only, for estimating purposes. Always check local building codes before determining the final design.

    Inside this document you will find information about:

    • Choosing Materials
    • Preparation and Layout
    • Building the Substructure
    • Decking and Railings



    • Decking-If you choose pressure-treated lumber, you’ll have a choice between 5/4 x 6 decking (1×5-1/2 actual size) or 2″ material (typically 2×4 through 2×8, all 1-1/2″ thick). The size and species of the decking you choose will determine the spacing between your joists. Recommended spacing for common decking boards is as follows:
    Decking Joist Spacing
    5/4×6 PT Southern pine 16″ maximum
    2 inch thick redwood, western red cedar, S-P-F, Hem-fir, Northern white cedar 24″ maximum, 16″ preferred
    2-inch Southern pine 24″ maximum
    • Determining Joist Size-2x6s through 2x10s are the most common sizes used for joists. The beams that carry them are typically 4×6 through 4×10, often “built up” from doubled 2-inch lumber. Pressure-treated lumber is generally less expensive than redwood or cedar, and can be used for the substructure even when the decking and railing will be other species.
    • In most cases, you’ll want to determine the spacing between beams first, then use a joist size appropriate to that spacing. If the deck will be no more than 6′ off the ground, a common recommendation is to space the support beams no more than 12′ apart. As a rule, you’ll only need one beam along the outer edge of the deck (a ledger bolted to the house supports the other end of the deck).
    Beam Spacing Joist Size (joists 16″ o.c.)
    Up to 8 feet 2×6 (Southern pine, Douglas fir, Western red cedar, S-P-F, or Hem-Fir)2×8 (redwood, Northern white cedar)
    8 to 10 feet 2×8 (all species listed above)
    10 to 12 feet 2×8 (Southern pine, Douglas fir, Western red cedar, S-P-F, or Hem-fir)2 x 10 (redwood, Northern white cedar)
    Beam Spacing Joist Size (joists 24″ o.c.)
    Up to 8 feet 2×6 (Southern pine, or Douglas fir)2×8 (Western red cedar, S-P-F, Hem-Fir, redwood, or Northern white cedar)
    8 to 10 feet 2×8 (all species listed above)
    10 to 12 feet 2×8 (Southern pine, or Douglas fir)2×10 (Western red cedar, S-P-F, or Hem-Fir, redwood, or Northern white cedar)
    • Determining Beam Size-Since support posts are often run through the decking to serve as railing posts, the specifications below are given for posts that will be spaced no more than 6′ apart, with beams that are no more than 12′ apart. With these spacing specifications, 4×4 posts are adequate for any deck less than 6′ off the ground.
    Beam Spacing (round down to nearest foot) Min. Beam Size (double 2″ material may be used in place of 4″ thickness)
    Up to 6 feet 4×6 (Southern pine or Douglas fir)4×8 (Western red cedar, S-P-F, Hem-Fir, redwood, or Northern white cedar)
    Up to 7 feet 4×8 (all species listed above)
    Up to 9 feet 4×8 (Southern pine, Douglas fir, Western red cedar, S-P-F, or Hem-Fir)4×10 (redwood, Northern white cedar)
    Up to 11 feet 4×8 (Southern pine or Douglas fir)4×10 (Western red cedar, S-P-F, Hem-Fir, redwood or Northern white cedar)
    Up to 12 feet 4×10 (all species listed above)


    • Preparation-First, prepare the ground under the deck by removing the sod. Slope the ground away from the house a minimum of 1″ every 15′ to provide drainage. Once the deck is finished, the ground should be covered with 6 mil. black polyethylene to keep weeds from growing.
    • Measure and mark the position of the ledger along the wall. The height of the ledger should be 1″ below the bottom of the door plus the thickness of the decking, plus the depth of the joists if you plan to set the joists on the ledger and beams rather than using joist hangers. It makes no difference which way you set the joists, as long as your layout is consistent.
    • Mount a 2×6 ledger to the wall with 1/2″ lag screws. The ledger must be level, and the lag screws should be long enough to penetrate the studs at least 3″. Use two lag screws at each end, and one at each wall stud (typically 16″ on center) in between. Install a “Z”-shaped flashing above the ledger to shed water, or space the ledger away from the wall with washers (see image).

    • Layout-To establish the outside perimeter of the deck, measure out from each end of the ledger about 18″ beyond the outside edge of the deck. Set up batterboards (see image) as shown, then run taut strings from each end of the ledger to the batterboards to establish the sides of the deck.
    • Run a third string between the batterboards to establish the outside edge of the deck. Square the layout by measuring the opposite diagonals, then adjusting the ledger-to-batterboard strings until both measurements are equal. Take care to maintain the correct distance between the strings.


    • Footing and Piers (see image) – Use a plumb bob from the string to establish the location of the footings. The holes for the footings must be deeper than the maximum frost penetration in your area, and deep enough to rest on undisturbed soil. It’s a good idea to dig 6″ deeper and fill the bottom of the hole with gravel to allow drainage.
    • Mix concrete and pour the footings. To find the number of 90# bags of ready-mixed concrete you’ll need for each 12×12 footing, measure the depth of the footing in inches and divide by 8. As you finish each pour, set a precast pier on the footing so it extends about 6″ above the ground level. Use a thin cement mix to bond the piers to the footings.
    • Posts-After the concrete has set, stand the posts on the piers. Use temporary braces and a level to plumb the posts. Once the posts are set, run a mason’s line from the top of the ledger to each post and use a line level to mark it for cutting. The height of the post should be equal to the height of the ledger minus the depth of the beam that will be set on it.

    • Beams-Fasten post-to-beam connectors on top of the posts with nails and 1/2″x5-1/2″ hex bolts, then set the beams into the connector. Plumb and square the assembly, then secure the beams as you did the posts. If local building codes require it, install 2×6 diagonal cross braces and secure them with 1/2″x4-1/2″ lag screws (see image).
    • Joists (see first image below) – Mark the joist locations on both the beams and ledger, either 16″ or 24″ o.c., as per your design. Set the joists in place with the crowns up. If the deck is wide enough that you need two sets of joists (and if you set the joists over the beams rather than hanging them from joist hangers), splice the connections by overlapping each pair of joists at least 1′ and nailing them together with 8d galvanized nails (see second image below). Install blocking between the joists wherever required (see third image below). Blocking requirements are determined by your local building codes. Finally, nail the rim joist across the ends of the joists.
    • Stairs-Build any stairs you will need. Instructions for building outdoor stairs are covered in an accompanying brochure.


    • Decking-Deck boards should be laid with the bark side up, and with both ends centered over a joist. Stagger the joints of side-by-side deck boards so they don’t line up. Notch the boards around posts or other obstructions, leaving 1/8″ space for drainage.
    • 2″-thick deck boards should be spaced approximately 1/8″; most builders set a 16d nail between the boards as they fasten them. 5/4″‘x6″ pressure-treated decking may be placed with each board flush against the next; natural shrinkage will provide the proper spacing.
    • Fasten the deck boards at each joist (see image). Use two fasteners per support point for decking up to 6″ wide, or three fasteners for wider boards. Deck screws or clips are generally better than nails, but all fasteners must be hot-dipped galvanized, aluminum, or stainless steel (see image below). If you use nails, blunt the points by tapping them with your hammer, to avoid splitting the decking.

    • Let the decking run over the edge of the structure, then saw the ends off after all boards are laid.
    • Railings-Secure the railing posts at each corner of the deck, and on each side of the stairs. Then secure the field posts, spaced equally between the corners but no farther apart than allowed by local building codes (typically 6′). Nail the sub-railings and cap rail in place, then add the balusters.
    Level and Line Level Plumb Bob
    Mason’s Line 2x2s and 1x4s for Batter Boards
    Ready-mixed Concrete, Gravel Wheelbarrow
    Shovel Concrete Piers
    Structural Connectors Lag Screws, Hex Bolts w/ Nuts and Washers
    Adjustable Wrench Hammer
    Chalk Line Measuring Tape
    8d and 16d Galvanized Common/Box Nails Screws
    Lumber for Posts, Ledger, Beams and Joists Deck Boards
    Railing Material Framing Square
    Stain Brushes and Thinner
    6 mil. Black Polyethylene  

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    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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