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How To Build A Portable Deck For An RV

A portable deck is one of the things that can make your parked RV feel even more like home. It gives you additional space, and can make the overall size of your living area seem bigger. It can be decorated, customized, and made all your own. 

While it takes some materials and technical know-how, it is still a worthwhile project that will elevate your RV space – literally and figuratively. You will need the correct tools and materials, and you’ll need to be mindful of the terrain. 

To build a portable RV deck, you’ll first need to plan out your project. This project will require tools such as a power drill, a screwdriver, a hammer, and a tape measure. Additionally, you will need nails, screws, and plenty of wood or wood palettes. Select your location, set up the deck base, arrange the joist, and cover the deck. 

How To Build A Portable Deck For An RV 

Preparations 

As with any construction project, you’re going to want to have an action plan and prepare everything accordingly. Lay out all of the materials you’ll need to have on hand and start taking measurements. 

Proper planning will save you a huge headache down the line. Having an action plan means you won’t have to stop halfway through your process to remeasure, correct mistakes, and budget accordingly. 

Building a portable deck for an RV is going to be a time-consuming process. Park your RV in the place you’ll want your deck to sit initially, and put aside at least two days to finish the project. You might need less time, but it’s better to have a wider time-budger than a more narrow one. 

The Tools 

You won’t need high-level power tools for this project. Most of what you’ll use are things you’ll already have in your average tool chests. If you don’t have access to these, even the smallest of hardware stores will have them available for purchase. For this project, you’ll need: 

  • A saw. A standard hand saw will be perfectly suited for building a portable deck. 
  • A drill. If you don’t have a drill, you might still be able to get by with a screwdriver, but a drill will make this process much faster. 
  • A hammer and nails
  • A screwdriver and screws. You may want to employ the use of anchors for your screws or nails, depending on the type of wood you’re using. 
  • A tape measure. This is a vital piece that will make a world of difference in making sure that everything fits together perfectly. 
  • A level tool. When you’re parked on uneven ground, you’ll need to make sure the supports and joists you use to hold the deck up adjust in height so that your surface stays level. 

While these will assist in joining your deck together, you’ll also want to make sure you’re protected. Splinters, sawdust, sparks, or any other forms of debris can be hazardous to your skin, eyes, and lungs. Be sure you are well protected for this endeavor by keeping the right protective gear onhand: 

  • Thick work gloves that fit you correctly 
  • Safety goggles. Be sure these create a seal all around the area of your eyes. 
  • A mask. Breathing in sawdust can be extremely dangerous. Be sure to protect your nose and mouth as you’re working with wood. 

Depending on the type of deck you’re looking to build, you may need additional materials. For example, you’ll need brushes or rollers if you want to stain and lacquer the wood. It’s also recommended to have plenty of things available for cleanup, like soap, water, sponges, or a water hose. 

The Materials 

Because you’re building a portable deck, you want your materials to be lightweight. That said, it still needs to be tough and durable, heavy enough to stand up to weather and usage. Wood is the obvious choice for decks, as it’s easy to obtain, strong enough to last, and easy to move. You can include synthetic materials like acrylic or metals if you wish. 

Wood 

When selecting your wood, be sure to use pressure-treated lumber. Pressure-treated lumber has been made specifically to withstand a lot of use. It can put up with the wear and tear expected from a regularly used deck. 

Wood that hasn’t been pressure treated will wear down quickly, endangering the structural integrity of your final product. Not only can this be dangerous, but it can lead you to need to do the entire thing over again. Doing so is a waste of your valuable time and money, which is why pressure-treated lumber is the best choice for building a portable deck for an RV. 

When selecting materials like nails and screws, give all of your materials a good once-over check to make sure they’re in good condition. Making something with flimsy, easily broken nails or a dull saw will send the whole deck into disarray. 

Typically, 48-inch boards will be the most useful for making your deck. You may have to cut some down or join more than one. Either way, this length is the most advised because it is the most efficient for the standard length of a deck. 

Concrete Pier Blocks 

A pier and beam foundation is the typical foundation you’d use for a portable deck. It involves wood posts or concrete pillars that are set into the earth. They bear the weight of your deck and provide support. 

You can buy pre-made concrete pier blocks, or you can use cinder blocks to create a foundation. Pier blocks will have a much sturdier hold, but cinder blocks are easier to move. Some concrete pier blocks have straps that make it easier for them to hold onto pieces of wood. Look at your local hardware store to see what you might prefer to use. 

These can also be called ‘deck blocks’, and they’re made specifically for this purpose. They make it much easier to build portable decks in a hurry. 

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Portable Deck For An RV?  

The cost of building a portable deck for an RV will rely heavily on a few factors. For example, some campsites or RV parks charge a fee for modification and accessories. Be sure to check with your campground’s office to ensure that you’re within your limits in the space. 

The wood you use, and where you get it, will impact the final cost. If you already have plenty of tools and only need the materials, this is actually a fairly inexpensive project. The average cost of building a portable deck for an RV is going to be between $15 and $30 per square foot. 

Adding a handrail, stains, and weather treatments will increase the final cost. This also does not include things like adding patio furniture or outdoor plants. 

Step One: Lay Your Pier Blocks 

It isn’t always necessary to have your deck high off the ground, but if you want it to meet the entryway steps of your RV, you’ll want to lay out your blocks. 

If you’re using deck blocks or concrete pier blocks, measure them out in the area that you want the deck to cover. For example, if you want a 9 by 10 foot deck, lay out your blocks in a grid that is 9 feet wide and 10 feet long. Deck blocks are best for decks that will be no more than 3 feet of the ground. 

The soil where you place your deck blocks should be hard-packed. You should aim to get it as level as possible. 

Step Two: Set The Piers And Joists 

Once you’ve got your concrete in place, you’ll want to set your piers into the brackets at the appropriate height. Run your joists along each side of the posts in each row. Attach them using screws, fitting anchors in as needed for additional support. 

What you’ll basically be doing is using a series of straight and liner joists to connect all of the block posts together. Connect your piers carefully. If you’re using the type of concrete block that has straps, be sure that they’re all secure and set into place properly. 

The more secure your joists, the more secure your deck will be when you’re finished. Be sure to keep your blocks in a neat line while you’re assembling the deck. Additionally, pay attention to be sure that all of your posts have the same height. so that the end result will stay level. This is a crucial step that will make or break your deck, so be sure to work carefully. 

Step Three: Set Your Decking Boards 

Once you’re satisfied with your joists and piers, you’ll start covering the deck. This will be the part you’ll wind up walking and setting your furniture on. You can hammer these in place with nails, add them in with a nail-gun, or even use a heavy-duty wood glue. If you want to make them easier to take apart, you could screw them into place. 

Lay your planks side by side, being careful to avoid any visible gaps. Because wood will expand or contract due to weather or humidity, you might wind up finding gaps sometimes. However, when you first lay your deck, it is advised that you keep them as close together as you can. 

Step Four: Build A Stair 

This step is optional, but will add extra accessibility to your deck. The standard length for a step is 36 inches. You can go wider than this, but it’s not a great idea to make it any narrower. Three feet is a comfortable width for walking up and down onto your deck. 

Assemble the stringer and the boards however you see fit in conjunction to the deck itself. Figure out the exact positioning and shape you desire for your stairs before you set them into place. Remember that making your stairs heavier will make them harder to transport, reducing portability. 

Step Five: Finishing Touches 

Now that your deck is in place, it’s time to make it your own. There are a lot of ways to customize a portable RV deck. Just remember that when you’re ready to pick up and move the RV again, you will have to move all of your decor with it. 

Handrails 

Not only does a handrail improve the safety and usability of your deck, but it can add additional decorative flair to the space. 

To add handrails to your RV deck, you can go the simple, classic route, and make posts out of wood planks. To do this: 

  1. Use a pencil and a tape measure to measure where each of your posts will go. Be mindful of openings or stairs where the posts will not be needed. To help arrange them, fix a post to each corner first, and then at every opening. Then it’s a matter of measuring the spaces between them. 
  2. Find the center point of each board you’re using as a post. Attach a spindle here and fasten each board to your deck. 
  3. Once each post is secure, ceate a top railing and secure it to the top of your boards. 

You could also install a premade metal or acrylic gate to your deck. These will usually fasten on with screws. 

Staining 

Staining your deck will add a flair of color to your deck. Not only does it look great, but it can protect your deck from water, sun, and wear. There are a variety of stain and finish colors to choose from. You can get samples from a hardware store to try out on scraps of wood leftover from making your deck. 

To stain your deck, you’ll need to get it prepared first. If you don’t properly prep your wood, your stain will not take. Pressure wash the deck to remove any dirt, debris, and stains it may have taken while being built. If you don’t have a pressure washer, at least clean it with a hose. 

It’s crucial to use a deck cleaner if you’ve had the deck for a while when you decide to stain it. Deck cleaner will help your stain adhere better. If you do apply deck cleaner, hose it off again after you’ve applied it. 

Apply the stain of your choice to the deck. Some stains are semi-transparent, while others are more opaque. You might only need one coat, especially with semi-transparent stains. It’s vital that you mix and stir your stain first to ensure that it applies evenly and correctly. 

A brush will be the best tool to use in small corners, but you can also use a paint roller. There are even special stain applicators that will make it significantly easier. 

Decorating Your Portable RV Deck 

The ways you decorate your deck are practically limitless. The only limits are your imagination, the space, and your budget. If you’re using the deck as an extension of your living space, the best way to make it even more comfortable is to decorate. 

Lights

To illuminate your RV deck, there is a bevy of lighting options that are both practical and decorative. If you want to avoid running a bunch of wires to the vehicle or are looking to use less of your electricity, look for battery-operated lights. They’re perfect for dry camping or boondocking. You can also consider solar-powered lights. 

An added bonus of battery-operated lamps is that they can be brought inside the RV and used on the go, or when you aren’t hooked up to electricity or using your battery/generators. 

Strands of twinkling lights aren’t just for the holiday; for something extra decorative, try string lights. Bulb string lights can add a pleasant, ambient glow to your RV deck.  

Be sure that any battery-operated lights you’re using are waterproof. If you suspect rain, take your pieces inside to stay on the safe side. 

Plants 

From potted palms to the tiniest of succulents, plants can go a long way on your RV deck. A monstera palm placed in one corner can bring a bit of class to the space, while a few ferns will make it feel more like home. 

If you live in the RV full time, consider a container garden. Anything from fruits to vegetables to herbs can thrive in a container garden. Since it’s so contained, you can easily pack up and move the garden when it’s time to hit the road. Having one will make cooking and eating in the RV that much better. 

Furniture

Unless you’re planning to stand around on your deck, furniture is a must. There’s an impossibly broad range of pieces you can put on your RV deck. A simple arrangement of a table and chairs is perfect for entertaining, or simply relaxing on your own. 

The most important takeaways in selecting outdoor furniture for your RV deck is that they should be weatherproof and portable. Things you can fold for easy travel are going to be your best bet. 

Rugs

A rug is a way to make walking through your deck even cozier underfoot. Since it is an outdoor area, rugs that have some degree of weather resistance will stand up well to the elements. Shag or faux fur rugs aren’t recommended, as they’ll get dirty more often than it will be worth it to clean them. 

Outdoor area rugs can also add interesting visual contrast to your RV’s deck, especially ones that are dark in color that have been arranged on light wood. 

If you suspect rain, try to take the rug, along with any textile pieces like pillows, inside for the time being. If your rug did get rained on, hang it out to dry somewhere so that it does not accumulate mold or mildew on your wooden deck. 

Using The Wooden Palette Method 

If all of this is more than you really want to do to build a portable deck for your RV, consider the quicker fix of a wood-palette deck. 

Using wooden pallets to make a portable RV deck is simple, and takes much less handiwork than building it from scratch. 

  1. Obtain your wooden pallets. You might be able to find them for free in the shipping areas of some stores. However, it might not be the best idea to use these, as they could be worn or flimsy. 
  2. Hard-pack the ground where you’ll be setting your deck. If you want to prop your deck up, lay cinderblocks in a grid pattern. 
  3. Wooden pallets tend to have gaps between the slats. Fill these in by hammering in additional boards that are sized to fit into the gaps. 
  4. Connect the pallets together after you’ve placed them atop your cinder blocks. For best results, use nails to fix them together. For added security, use wood glue to affix them to the blocks below. 

It’s a simple process, but one that will give you a perfectly serviceable deck. Since pallets are so light, they’re easily packed up and moved when you want to park somewhere else. This method can be combined with the more strenuous one by connecting the wooden pallet to your existing joists. 

Conclusion 

Knowing how to build a portable RV deck can give you the skills to elevate your living area Whether you’re camping or settling down long-term, a deck is a perfect way to modify, expand, and personalize your vehicle. 

Making one by hand can be tricky. It takes a supply of materials and tools, and time should be set aside to do it right. Careful consideration should be taken into the slope or gradient of the ground you’re building on. Using pre-made concrete piers will help elevate the deck, or you can use deck blocks. 

Simply lay down your piers or blocks after you measure the area you’re looking to build in. Connect the set and joists so that the foundation is built securely. Apply the upper slats of your deck and screw or nail them into place. After that, all that is left to do is decorate, either by building a handrail or adding stairs. 

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