Yes the Decking Season is on us again, spring is well underway and summer just around the corner!  Here at VUETRADE we’ve collected a few tips and basic advice for building a deck.

Do you need a Council Permit

Always check with your local authorities when planning a new deck to see if you need a permit  and what the regulations and requirements (heights, handrail requirements etc) Also to determine if it is allowed to be constructed as DIY project or if you need to engage a professional to build the deck.

Choosing a Deck Builder

Your local timber yard, hardware or trade outlet selling decking products are your first stop to find out reputable decking professionals in your area, they are talking to and supplying local trades on a daily basis and will have excellent knowledge of tradies in your area.  When selecting a decking tradesperson for your project, always ask for details of other projects they have completed and find out if they are registered builders or members of a recognised industry group such as HIA, MBA etc.

Deck Design

A good deck design begins with what you’re trying to achieve from your project, whether it be somewhere to entertain guests on a warm afternoon, an area for the kids to play, or a relaxing space beside your pool.  Once the design and flow of the deck is determined then the structural design of the deck needs to be looked at.  Depending on heights and materials to be used, whether it is free standing or butting up to your home, all needs to be taken into consideration.  This is where council guide lines and a local tradesperson are invaluable as they have the experience and knowledge of construction requirements to design a deck that is not only going to last but also will be safe.

Choosing Materials

When choosing materials for your deck again there are many options but it all comes back to your budget, what you’re trying to achieve and what is required/recommended for your local area by your builder or local area authorities.

  • Timber – Depending on your budget and the style of your deck there are several popular timbers for decking. Treated Pine is a softwood and is a cost effective option that is treated to preserve from fungus growth and termite attack. Cypress Pine is another option which is naturally resistant to fungus and termite attack, most commonly used for posts. Blackbutt,  Merbau, Spotted Gum and Yellow Stringybark hardwoods that are commonly used in decking in Australia, however they are more expensive than pine. (This blog post has more information on different types of timber – Australian Timber Properties)
  • Brackets – ensure you or your builder procure sufficient and quality brackets and timber connectors for your project. Reputable brands will have technical data readily available to advise load ratings and information to ensure your deck is constructed correctly.
  • Posts Supports – does your deck design incorporate timber posts?  Find out if they can be inserted directly into concrete footings or if you need to bolt them down to existing concrete. If they can’t be inserted directly into concrete or you are bolting down, you will need to ensure a metal post shoe is used. This blog post discusses this in more detail – Correct Installation Of Post Supports On Deck Footings
  • Fixings/Screws – Ensure you use fixing that are recommended for the brackets you’re using and screws particularly suited for decking. There are many types of decking screws available and your local hardware or tradesperson will be able ensure you use the right one for the timber you’re using.
  • Coatings – use a good quality oil based coating to suit the timber the deck is to be constructed from.  Again your local trade outlet or tradesperson will be able to assist you get the right product for the job.  All decking timber will fade over time, so a good idea is to used a tinted coating that matches the timber the deck is to be constructed from to maintain the colour of the timber for the years to come.

One important point to note with brackets, post supports and fixings: if you’re building around a pool or near the coast, stainless steel fixings are required. (We have a handy chart on our Timber Connectors Icons page which shows how to determine if your location falls in a coastal area)

Deck Maintenance

If your deck is built right to start with, decking maintenance should only involve keeping it clean and clear of any debris build up and re-coating the timber according to the recommendations of the original coating/finish used.

Other Tips and Things to Remember

  • Decking Mitres and Boards will always open up, ensure you allow for the decking timber to shrink slightly when positioning the decking boards.
  • Rule of thumb, the space left between decking boards for up to 90mm timber should be at least 4.0mm and 6.0mm for timber up to 140mm width.
  • Ensure good ventilation underneath your deck and allow for water drainage as required for your deck site.
  • Coat decking boards on all sides and the cut/trimmed ends, using an oil based decking coat.
  • Build your deck slightly lower than any doorways leading onto your deck.

VUETRADE have a large range of quality timber connector brackets and post supports in both Galvanised and Stainless Steel for all your decking applications.