If you want an added incentive to make use of your garden and get the most out of your outdoor space, installing decking could be the right project for you. It is relatively simple to construct your own deck, and this guide will give you an outline of how to start.
Of course, patios are another popular option, but decking is typically easier and quicker to install and won’t require you to hire machinery, like a wacker plate, to complete the job.
Types of decking structure
The first thing to do is decide what type of deck you want – and where it will be located – as this will affect the sort of frame you need to build and the quantity of materials you require.
Most decks are fitted on a frame made of beams and joists, which you should construct from scratch to ensure it is the right size for the space available in your garden. The majority of frames look very similar and are comprised of an outer box with joists evenly spaced (typically every 400 mm) within the frame. However, if you have a sloping garden you will need to drive posts into the ground further down the incline to provide a level surface for your frame and create an elevated decking area.
The first thing to do is mark out the area where your decking will be positioned using wooden pegs and string. As wood is susceptible to the damp and damage from plants, it’s important to lay a weedproof membrane under the area the deck will cover and spread gravel over this, to aid drainage.
If you’re building a deck over an existing patio, you won’t need to worry about preparing the ground first! Once you’ve done this, it’s time to fit your frame together.
Building the frame
Precision is vital at this stage of the job, as if you don’t get your joists and the edge of your frame perfectly level, you’ll have uneven decking. So, it pays to take your time, measuring everything as you go and using a spirit level to check it really is flat.
It’s best to try to even out the ground before you start if you think it’s going to be a problem, but on patios this may not be possible. If you’re laying decking over paving slabs, you may need to make some joists slightly shallower and raise others with small pieces of wood to ensure you get a truly level surface.
Laying the deck
This part is generally the most straightforward of the entire process. Make sure you have a reliable electric drill and screwdriver to hand to really speed things up. Your deck boards should run at right angles to the joists. When you lay the first one, make sure it is totally flat to the edge of the frame before you fix it in place. You need to leave at least a 6 mm gap between each of the boards, because this allows for the wood to swell when it gets wet in winter and to shrink during dry periods.
It’s advisable to drill pilot holes in all your boards and to use rust-resistant screws to attach them to the frame and joists.
The final step is to paint your new decking with a wood preservative to ensure it stands the test of time. If you’ve bought wood that has been pre-treated, make sure you seal any cut ends with a preservative to prevent them rotting. Then you can put out some garden furniture and pot plants and enjoy your new decking.
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