How to Construct Decking

When you want to relax outside, decking might be the ideal way to extend your living area and introduce some outside entertaining and living space. Nathan James Dodd lets you know how best to construct it.

Created by Nathan James Dodd on Friday, 22nd of February, 2013.
Updated on Monday, 31st of August, 2015.


decking

Starting from scratch a medium sized deck might take the weekend to construct. Although easier for a competent DIYer there's no reason why a beginner cannot have a go, especially with a range of decking kits containing full instructions on the market.

Have the Correct Tools

Make sure you have the basic range of tools that are required, a minimum of saw, spirit level, tape measure, hammer, drill and screwdriver with countersunk screws.

Mark out the decking location with pegs and string using the tape measure. Clear the area where you plan to place the decking, removing any vegetation, stones and debris including grass if the decking is over an existing lawn. Level the ground, using a spirit level to check.

Construct the Base Frame

After laying a waterproof membrane and spreading gravel over it to a depth of approx. 1½ ins, it's time to construct the base frame. Saw the outer joists (6cm x 2cm timber) to the required lengths so they overlap at the corners, check the diagonals are equal so that the frame is square and use a spirit level to check everything is level.

Remember that if you are building the decking on permanently wet ground it's wise to raise the base above the ground. Also allow for any drain covers that you will need access to and do not build above the damp course if the decking is adjacent to your house.

After deciding which way you want the decking boards to run, cut the inner joists to the correct length and place them in the base frame in the opposite direction, they should be no more than 400mm apart. Screw the joists into place. Large decks should also have small pieces of timber between the cross joists to add strength.

Lay the Decking

Usually 2.4m long, the decking should now be cut to the required lengths. With the decking at right angles to the supporting joists and starting flush with the edge of the deck, fix each board with two screws at both ends and a 3-4mm gap between them. If more than one board is required to cover the width of the decking, fix them in a brickwork pattern, they will look better and add strength. Before screwing anything, have a 'dry run' to see whether your measurements are correct and the decking fits snugly.

Finally fit deck boards to cover the exposed ends and sides, and seal with a wood preservative.

Decking Kits And Tiles

Forest manufacture a range of decking kits and Zest 4 Leisure have decking tiles, both will make life easier and enable you to construct more ambitious projects. The decking kits come with full instructions and you can rest assured that all the boards are kiln dried pressure treated structural grade timber that is guaranteed for 15 years.

There's an 8ft square patio kit that can be placed anywhere, perhaps on the current lawn or on top of existing paving, and a patio extension kit designed to be place in front of French windows so increasing your living space. Both are supplied with posts and side rails. Two more kits, one 8ft square, the other 16ft x 8ft, feature a built in pergola with all the materials included in the pack.

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