Plans in hand and barbecues on your mind, you're ready to hit the home supply store to pick up the goods necessary to make your deck dream a reality.
First of all, you'll need the boards. Pressure-treated lumber is probably your best bet because it'll sustain the trials of weathering, although cedar is commonly used for decks as well. You may want to consider composite materials made from wood leftovers or plastics -- these products mimic the look of wood and require about the same amount of time to install and maintain.
No matter the wood you choose, you'll also need 4x4 posts, cement, joists (for framing), brackets, stain or paint and waterproof finishes. To secure these materials into your finished product, you're going to need a drill, a saw, a measuring tape, a level, a ladder and a pair of safety glasses.
Once you've assembled all of these essentials, which will vary in number and amount depending on the size and design of your deck, you're also going to need the nuts and bolts of the operation -- literally. J bolts, post anchors, various sizes of carriage bolts and lag screws all meet certain specifications needed to bear the weight and size of your deck. In addition, 16d nails and galvanized deck screws (usually 2 inches (5.08 cm) or more in length) are also essential to this project [source: Lowe's].