Deck building guide: What you need to know before designing and constructing the ultimate deck

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Building a deck creates an additional area for entertaining or just relaxing. A seamless transition from inside to outside is very appealing to most home buyers and can increase not only the floor space but even the value of your home.

There are numerous things to consider before building a deck, and a variety of design styles, installation methods and materials from which to choose. You can have a deck attached to the house, or you can install a free-standing deck.

Look online or browse Pinterest for inspiration to find a design that suits your taste and your space.

Before starting any decking construction, check that your local council will allow this addition to your home, and whether there are any restrictions regarding height, size, materials or privacy.

Which decking material is best?

Before building a deck you must consider the look you wish to achieve, maintenance requirements, and your budget. Consider the pros and cons of hardwoods, treated pine, and composite decking materials.

  • Hardwoods such as jarrah, blackbutt, spotted gum and merbau are extremely durable and are highly resilient. You can choose between the warm red-brown tones of merbau or rich brown jarrah to achieve the look you desire. Upkeep is also a consideration, as hardwoods require a timber finish such as oil to be applied to retain their durability and prevent them from deteriorating.
  • Treated pine is a more affordable timber option, and has been treated to withstand decay, fungi and termites. A versatile material, you can leave it to turn grey with weathering, or stain it in any colour to suit the look you wish to achieve. It is lightweight and easy to install but needs yearly maintenance to keep it in good condition.
  • Composite decking is made from a mix of wood fibres and recycled plastic or fibre cement, and is an environmentally friendly alternative to timber. This material comes in a variety of timber tones, and best of all, it requires little upkeep as it does not fade, warp, rot or splinter. All you need to do is occasionally wash it down. Composite decking can be more costly than other decking options.
  • Modular decking is another option. These prefabricated panels are easy to install, and are available in various timber choices, such as merbau and treated pine. Upkeep depends on which material you choose, but the cost can be more than buying individual boards.
  • Construction and maintenance

    At its most basic, a deck consists of a frame of posts, bearers and joists that supports the decking boards. The frame can be constructed from hardwood, treated pine or steel.

    There are various ways to attach the decking material to the joists, including nailing, screwing or even installing hidden deck fasteners for an uninterrupted sleek look.

    Each spring you should inspect your deck for any deterioration. Most stained decks will need recoating every year or two.

    You can check the condition of the protective layer by dripping water onto the boards. If the water bubbles on top, then the surface coating is in good shape. But if the water appears to sink into the timber, it needs to be recoated to seal and protect it from the elements.

  • Deck design

    When designing your new deck, take into consideration what features you wish it to include for your lifestyle and the space available.

    It is more cost effective to properly plan and build exactly what you want than to retro-fit the deck later with additional inclusions.

    If you want an outdoor kitchen, for instance, consider where the gas or plumbing should be installed before construction.

    If you are looking for privacy from the neighbours, consider installing a timber-panelled privacy screen, or add planter boxes to plant a hedge.

  • Do you want built-in seating or free-standing furniture, or a combination of the two? Timber benches can be built with a hinged top to create hidden storage. If you make them weatherproof, you can store your outdoor cushions to prevent them from fading or getting wet in the rain.Before construction, take note of where the sun hits the space throughout the day. The amount of sunlight depends on the aspect. North-facing decks will get the winter and summer sun, south-facing decks get summer sunshine and west-facing decks can be very hot in the afternoon.You can create protection from the hot sun by including trees and bushy plants, by adding feature walls to block the sun, or by installing shade sails.
  • If the space is under cover, you can add cooling by installing ceiling fans. Also, think about how the deck may be used at night so you can install any lighting requirements as part of the construction process.Outdoor living and entertaining is now a huge part of contemporary life and a well-designed deck will add excellent value to both your lifestyle and home.
  • Source: Deck building guide: What you need to know before designing and constructing the ultimate deck| Domain
  • Source: Deck building guide: What you need to know before designing and constructing the ultimate deck| Domain

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