Project Guide - Decking Basic

Decking Basics

Timber decks offer a natural and attractive outdoor living space for dining, entertaining or simply relaxing.

For an alternative to a patio, a timber deck is a useful addition to your garden.

Design and construction is relatively easy - all you need to do is construct a frame from joists and add deckboards to create a flat patio. Additional posts, handrails and spindles create the complete deck look.

First of all you will need to choose a location for your new deck that takes the sun and prevailing winds into account. Then decide whether your deck should be free-standing within your garden or attached to your house.

Plan carefully

Decide on the shape and size of your deck - deck boards can be laid in a number of different ways and more ambitious deck shapes are possible: the only limit is your ingenuity.

Draw out a scaled plan of the area. An easy way to plan out a decking area is to create a scale of 10:1, draw out the outline measuring 1 cm for every 1 meter, or you could use 1mm for metre. This will help you to plan exact sizes for your area.

Go to your local timber merchants and look at samples of decking boards to help you decide the best boards for your garden.

Contact Timberclick for more details about their softwood and hardwood range.

It is important that you decide on the deckboard layout before assembling the support joists as some patterns will affect the spacing and number of joists, for example a double joist will be needed for a chevron style layout.

In your garden mark out the area to be occupied by your deck with wooden pegs and string: this will help you to visualise the size of the finished deck and serve as a guide for preparing the site.

If the site you have chosen is lawned, then it is recommended that the turfs are removed and the site is level.

You can prevent the growth of unwanted vegetation under your deck by covering bare ground with black plastic sheeting, followed by gravel. Materials for Building Decking

  • Concrete Mix 
  • Bricks or Supporting Blocks
  • Long Bolts, Washers and Nuts 
  • Joist Boards 
  • Wooden Posts
  • Decking Boards
  • Gravel (Optional)
  • Heavy Duty Plastic Sheeting/Weed Suppressant Cover

Once the foundation has been laid you may want to revisit your designs.

Decking boards come in a variety of different woods and patterns.

Grooved woods offer greater stability underfoot especially in wet weather. So alternative patterns can be used in a variety of ways Try different variations until you find the one that suits your project best . Try out variations

Different designs will also require different quantities of board. Once you have decided on your pattern, make sure that you have ordered enough decking boards to complete the project.

Decide on your decking layout before placing the posts. Different patterns have different stress points and therefore require different framework constructions. Laying out the decking boards on the ground will help you to decide.

This guide covers the more basic decking patterns but future guides will cover more complicated decking options.

The Framework Step 1:

Having marked out the position of the decking on the ground, use sticks and string to line the area and act as a guide for marking the position of the posts.

Step 2:

Calculate the height of the decking required, to take into account the height of the decking boards and adjust the string to the height required.

Image of foundation

Step 3:

Cut the board joists that will form the sides of the deck to size.

Step 4:

Mark the position of the wooden posts at 300-400mm intervals and dig a hole about a foot deep (300mm). Place a brick or block at the bottom and place the post on top, then add the concrete.

Example deck constructionUse a spirit level to ensure that the posts are level. (If planning a banister rail, you can use longer posts at this stage). You will need to wait a few days before continuing to attach anything to the posts to allow the concrete time to dry.

Step 5:

Lay down the weed suppressor or heavy duty black plastic.

Cut the deck inner board joists to length and treat all cut ends with an end sealant.

Step 6:

Place the side and floor joists in the position where the deck is required. 

Step 7:

Assemble the framework using the long bolts in pre-drilled holes, secure with relevant nuts and washers.

Fitting the boards once the framework has been completed the detail of laying the deck boards is next. If you are just looking for a flat deck make sure the posts are flush with the joist board heights and start to place the boards on the framework.

For most flat decking areas it is advisable to 'brick effect' the boards, so that each consecutive board finishes on a diferent joist.

See diagram below. 

This adds greater strength to the decking.

Once in position start to fix the boards to the joist framework using either long headed nails or preferably with brass screws that are not prone to rusting.

If using screws, pre-drill the holes and then create a depression for the screw head.

That will ensure a smooth finish to your decking. Cut off the extended lengths as required. After completion treat with a suitable decking stain and water sealant.

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