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Where to start with decking

Deck

 

Are you considering decking as a project? It can be a DIY project, but you need to know what to do and how to do it. Here is how to start with decking:

  1. First steps towards decking

  2. Tools you need for a decking project

  3. Take a step-by-step approach

  4. Making the decking look its best

First steps towards decking

The first step you should take is to contact your local council and find out if you need council permission to build a deck. You may also need to tell them if it is a DIY job as some councils may want you to take a course before they issue you a permit to build your own deck. It may depend on the size of the deck and whether it is elevated. The cost of the deck may be a determining factor and if it is elevated, council may want you to hire a decking contractor.

If you're planning on building an elevated deck, you may want to hire a decking contractor to do the job because elevated decks can be difficult to build and you don't want the deck to collapse. Decking contractors know how to build sturdy elevated decks.

 

Raised Deck

 

Mark out the area where you want decking. Then measure it and figure out how much material you will need. Keep in mind that a deck has many parts, including:

  • Post footers (usually concrete)

  • Posts can be cemented in or placed on footers

  • Beams will hold the floor joists

  • Joists will be needed to attach the decking to

  • Decking is the final stage

You may also need railing around the deck. Railings consist of posts, bottom rails, top rails and balusters. They should be made well and secured firmly. If your deck is not at a low level, you may also need stairs. Stairs will have risers (vertical timber), a stringer to support the risers and treads. Think about the decking parts you need and order them in advance.

Also think about what materials you want to use. Decks can be made out of many types of timber and also can be made from non-timber products. For some options, read How Much Does Decking Cost? Some prices you may pay can be:

Composite decking can be a good choice if you don't want to refinish timber decking every few years. Modern composite decking can look like timber, but it only has to be washed down to look good. If you choose composite decking, ask about fasteners for it. There may be different from fasteners for timber like nails and screws. For some tips about installing composite decking, read DIY Composite Decking.

 

Building a Patio

 

Before you start a decking project, you need to make sure weeds don't grow up under the deck. Sand or gravel and chemical weed killers can help, but you don't want weeds because if you are installing a low deck, the weeds may grow up between the decking.

 

Tools you need for a decking project

Aside from the decking materials, you will need a variety of tools. They include:

  • A spirit level to ensure everything is vertical and horizontal

  • A nail gun can be helpful and will speed up the work

  • A power drill will be needed for bolts and screws

  • A circular saw will make cutting easier

  • A shovel for digging holes

  • Saw horses will help you cut timber

  • A carpenter's pencil will be needed

  • A square will help you check the squareness of the components

  • A tape measure will be needed to measure lengths

  • Think about using safety goggles to protect your eyes

  • An adjustable angle for stair rails if needed

 

Working Man

 

If you don't have some of these tools, you can use a hand saw, but it will slow the work down. Add up the costs and consider purchasing all these tools to speed up installing decking.

 

Take a step-by-step approach

Polishing Deck

 

Don't hurry your decking project. Unless you're installing a very small deck, you won't be able to complete the deck in a single weekend. Take a step-by-step approach by installing the posts first and then the beams and floor joists. The posts are important, so decide whether you want to cement posts into the ground or use pre-made cement posts. The posts will support the deck, so make sure they are sturdy and can support the weight of the decking.

If you're installing a large deck, you may only be able to install the posts on the first weekend. Then you can start on the beams the following weekend and perhaps even install the joists. Leave the decking for the next weekend and remember to use spacers to keep the decking evenly spaced.

It's important to take your time and make sure the posts are vertical and the beams are horizontal. The beams should also be level across the deck and the joists should also be level. Then the decking boards will be level and you won't have a problem with an uneven deck.

If you need railing around the deck, the posts should be bolted with at least two bolts. The bolts will hold them in place and make the railing firmer. The balusters should be evenly spaced and not wide enough for a child to slip through them and fall.

If you need stairs, they should be firmly attached to the decking and the ground. It's also a good idea to install a handrail to help prevent falls. The handrail can be tricky because it's on an angle, but you can use an adjustable angle to make the posts at an even angle. You will also need to make sure the posts are straight to attach a top rail to. You may also want to add a bottom rail and some balusters to make sure children don't fall from the steps.

It may take several weekends to complete the decking, especially if you have to install a railing and stairs. When you're done, you have one more step to take. If you've countersunk the nails in the decking, you may want to add a matching putty, but it may not be necessary. Many decks are made with countersunk nails and they don't show.

 

Making the decking look its best

When you've finished the job, you will have raw timber. The deck must be sealed completely to make it look its best. Start with the posts and work your way up. Remember to thoroughly seal the deck and if you're using treated pine, you may want to stain the treated pine because it has a greenish tinge. Staining it will make it look like any timber you choose. Then apply a sealer over the stain after it dries.

 

Polishing Patio

 

If you are making a deck out of a hardwood, a stain isn't necessary, but the deck will still need sealing to preserve the timber and make it look its best. The sealer will bring out the colour in the timber and make the deck look like it's been professionally made.

When you're done and if you've taken your time and double checked everything, you will have a deck that looks like it was made by a professional. You can take pride in your accomplishment, but you will have to reseal the deck in a few years.

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