The most solid base you can build your deck on is concrete pad footings. A good size is 300mm square and 200mm deep. Make the concrete slightly higher than the surrounding ground so water won’t pool there. If you’re building over an existing concrete slab, cut a bit of the slab out to see how thick it is and if it’s reinforced. If you’re unsure if it’s good enough, it’s safer to cut out a bit of the slab, dig holes and pour concrete.
When it comes to the timber for the structure of your deck there are two main choices, treated pine or hardwood. Treated pine is the most readily available and is easy to work with. Hardwood is stronger and can span further distances for its size, but it’s harder to nail and screw into, so your deck project will take longer. To work out the amount and sizes of timber you’ll need, do a search for timber span tables. They take into account a range of variables to help you design your deck.
Choose your decking
Now for the fun part, the decking! Hardwood is the most durable and attractive of decking timbers. You can go for the dark brown of Merbau, the red of Karri or the creamy brown of Spotted Gum or Blackbutt. Treated pine is a great budget option and you can make it look like one of the more expensive timbers by staining it. If maintenance isn’t your thing then look into composite decking. Made from recycled materials, the colour comes built in so once it’s down you’re ready to relax!
Get the right fixings
To make sure your deck lasts, any bolts, screws or nails used to put the structure together should be galvanised. This is a coating applied to the metal to prevent rusting. To hold your decking down, screws are your best bet. Nails can eventually work loose through use and the expansion and contraction of the timber.
To keep your timber deck looking great, apply a finish once it’s done. Oils come in either natural, which is a transparent coating to preserve the timber’s colour; or tinted to deepen and enrich the timber colour. With a stain, you can totally transform the look of a deck. There’s a huge range of colour options from those of common timbers through to blues, greens and greys to really make your deck standout.