There are many good books and manuals on deck construction out there. But here are a few tips for a better job.
A power auger’s great for digging footing holes, but you’ll need a partner. It’s heavy and hard to hold in place when you encounter roots and other obstructions.
To lay out a right angle, get out your old math textbook. Pythagoras says the sum of the squares of two sides of a right-angled triangle are equal to the square of the hypotenuse. Forget that, but remember this:
To make sure anything is square (or rectangle), measure the distance between opposite corners. If they’re equal, it’s square.
When treating cuts in pressure treated wood, suspend the wood with the area to be treated at the bottom. This means any drips will fall away from the wood without leaving colored marks down the wood itself. Use an oil can to get inside holes.
You can leave a low deck free-floating with the beams resting on — but not secured to — its concrete piers, and the deck itself unsecured to your house. The weight of the deck holds it in place, and as it’s floating, it won’t be twisted if frost heaves your footings. If you don’t attach it to the house, you will need more footings to support it at that end.