Decking is straightforward and takes less time to install than paving. If you use pressure-treated timber and screws that are designed for the job, your deck will be long lasting and durable.
Even with small decks, building regulations can be an issue. It’s therefore worth checking with local planning authorities before you start. Keep neighbours informed if you decide to build a substantial structure.
It’s important to choose the correct location. Do you want a sunny or shaded location and is privacy a requirement? If your deck is positioned under permanent shade, your deck may be affected by damp and algae growth, so be prepared to treat these once a year.
Designing your decking is critical. It’s essential to plan your deck to scale on paper, ensuring your measurements are correct. Plan the deck so it very slightly sloped (a 1:80 fall is fine), and use fluted deck boards that run in the direction of the slope, allowing rain water to run off.
Mark out the deck area using pegs and string line. Remove the turf inside the area and 5cm of topsoil. If the ground is uneven, level it, remember to allow the slope of 1:80.
Place paving slabs at each corner and then midway, where each bearer will be, including the edges, or every 1.5m if laying a larger deck.
Using a spade, mark the area around each of the slabs and then remove them for the time being. Further remove 2.5cm of topsoil from the marked areas.
Replace the soil removed with a bed of gravel. Reposition slabs, but make sure they’re level and firmly bedded.
Roll our landscape fabric, then cut and trim it around each slab. If you need to overlap the membrane, do so by at least 10cm.
You can now cover the membrane with a thick layer of gravel. Evenly spread out the gravel with a rake until it’s level with the slabs.
It’s time to mark, cut and then lay out the outer frame, using decking bearers. Make sure the frame is flat and totally supported.
Using a spirit level to make sure the frame remains flat, join the frame at each corner using two external grade 150mm (6in) screws.
The corners should be square, and you can check this by measuring the diagonals of the frame. They should be equal and if not then adjust the frame until it’s square.
Before fixing intermediate bearers inside the frame, check your intended layout of boards, as the pattern will affect spacing and number of bearers needed. E.g. – double bearers will be needed for some chevron styles, as below. Each bearer will need a paving slab to support it at least every 1.5m.
Mark, cut and fit the intermediate bearers, with a maximum spacing between bearers of 500mm, again ensuring that they’re flat with a spirit level.
Now you can lay your decking on top of the frame and pre-drill all fixing points with a 2mm bit to prevent boards from splitting.
In order to get a smother, neater finish, countersink all drilled fixing points. Sand all cut ends of timber to avoid splinter development.
Now you’ve predrilled the holes, fix the boards to the bearers with two 64mm decking screws to each bearer underneath.
Keep even spaces between adjacent boards. An off cut of wood is ideal. Once each board is secured, you can move the spacer to the next position.
Trim the boards at the end to make a straight edge. Mark the timber using a spirit level or timber board, and use a jigsaw to carefully cut the over hanging deck boards.
In order to create a curved edge, mark out curves using a string line in an arc, or create an arc with a piece of fixed timber; bearing in mind, unsupported decking cannot be more than 150mm away from a bearer.
Finally, add boards around the edges in order to frame the deck and neatly finish it.
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