Under-deck Enclosure - Part 1 of 3

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Made of weather-resistant vinyl, this under-deck system creates an attractive, maintenance-free ceiling that keeps the space below dry throughout the seasons.

 

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Continue to Step 1

Overview

Second-story walk-out decks can be a mixed blessing. On top, you have an open, sun-filled perch with a commanding view of the landscape. The space below the deck, however, is all too often a dark and chilly nook that is functionally unprotected from water runoff. As a result, an under-deck area often ends up as wasted space or becomes a holding area for seasonal storage items or the less desirable outdoor furniture.
But there’s an easy way to reclaim all that convenient outdoor space—by installing a weatherizing ceiling system that captures runoff water from the deck above, leaving the area below dry enough to convert into a versatile outdoor room. You can even enclose the space to create a screened-in patio room.
The under-deck system featured in this project is designed for do-it-yourself installation. Its components are made to fit almost any standard deck and come in three sizes to accommodate different deck-joist spacing (for 12", 16", and 24" on-center spacing). Once the system is in place, the under-deck area is effectively “dried in”, and you can begin adding amenities like overhead lighting, ceiling fans, and speakers to complete the outdoor room environment.
The system works by capturing water that falls through the decking above and channeling it to the outside edge of the deck. Depending on your plans, you can let the water fall from the ceiling panels along the deck’s edge, or you can install a standard rain gutter and downspout to direct the water to a single exit point on the ground.

What You'll Need

Tools:

4-ft. level
Chalk line
Caulking gun
Drill
Aviation snips
Hacksaw (for optional rain gutter)
Under-deck ceiling system
Waterproof acrylic caulk
1" stainless steel screws
Rain gutter system (optional)

Materials:

4-ft. level
Chalk line
Caulking gun
Drill
Aviation snips
Hacksaw (for optional rain gutter)
Under-deck ceiling system
Waterproof acrylic caulk
1" stainless steel screws
Rain gutter system (optional)

 

Step 1

Design Tips

This under-deck system consists of four main parts: The joist rails mount to the deck joists and help secure the other components. The collector panels (A) span the joist cavity to capture water falling through the deck above. Water flows to the sides of the panels where it falls through gaps in the joist rails (B) and into the joist gutters (C) (for interior joists) and boundary gutters (for outer joists). The gutters carry the water to the outside edge of the deck.


Step 2

Design Tips

For a finished look, paint the decking lumber that will be exposed after the system is installed. Typically, the lower portion of the ledger board (attached to the house) and the outer rim joist (at the outer edge of the deck) remain exposed.


Step 3

Design Tips

Consider surrounding architectural elements when you select a system for sealing off the area below your deck. Here, the under-deck system is integrated with the deck and deck stairs both visually and functionally.


Step 4

How to Install an Under-deck System

Check the undersides of several deck joists to make sure the structure is level. This is important for establishing the proper slope for effective water flow.


Step 5

How to Install an Under-deck System

How bad is it? If your deck is not level, you must compensate for this when setting the ceiling slope. To determine the amount of correction that’s needed, hold one end of the level against a joist and tilt the level until it reads perfectly level. Measure the distance from the joist to the free end of the level. Then, divide this measurement by the length of the level. For example, if the distance is 1⁄4" and the level is 4 ft. long, the deck is out of level by 1⁄16" per foot.


Step 6

How to Install an Under-deck System

To establish the slope for the ceiling system, mark the ends of the joists closest to the house: Measure up from the bottom 1" for every 10 ft. of joist length (or approximately 1⁄8" per ft.) and make a mark. Mark both sides of each intermediate joist and the inside faces of the outer joists.


Step 7

How to Install an Under-deck System

Create each slope reference line using a chalk line: Hold one end of the chalk line at the mark made in Step 3, and hold the other end at the bottom edge of the joist where it meets the rim joist at the outside edge of the deck. Snap a reference line on all of the joists.


Step 8

How to Install an Under-deck System

Install vinyl flashing along the ledger board in the joist cavities. Attach the flashing with 1" stainless steel screws. Caulk along the top edges of the flashing where it meets the ledger and both joists using quality, waterproof acrylic caulk. Also caulk the underside of the flashing for an extra layer of protection.


Step 9

How to Install an Under-deck System

Begin installing the joist rails, starting 1" away from the ledger. Position each rail with its bottom edge on the chalk line, and fasten it to the joist at both ends with 1" stainless steel screws; then add one or two screws in between. Avoid over-driving the screws and deforming the rail; leaving a little room for movement is best.


Step 10

How to Install an Under-deck System

Install the remaining rails on each joist face, leaving a 11⁄2" (minimum) to 2" (maximum) gap between rails. Install rails along both sides of each interior joist and along the insides of each outside joist. Trim the final rail in each row as needed using aviation snips.


 
 

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