Garden decking - create your own garden decking with the GardenAdvice Team
The GardenAdvice team show you how to create a decking simply and easily. Building a single level decking area is a project that can be achieved in a weekend. Download our guide on decking click here
The key to constructing a good decking area is the frame. If the decking is being built on an existing patio it should be built of sawn treated timber 50 mm by 100mm (approx.). Before building the frame you need to decide which way the final decking boards are going to run and build the main joists of the frame in the opposite direction at approx 400mm centres. The frame can either be built directly on to the patio or can be built using small brick pillars to increase the height. If the brick pillar method is used then you should use a pillar every 1.25 metres along every second joist. In general the more the pillars the better as this will help stop the deck from having too much of a spring. Before building the frame it is a good idea to cover the base with a ground sheeting material to stop any weed growth once the decking is finished. Screwing the frame together is the best way to ensure you maintain the strength over a number of years. Building a deck is a great addition to any home. level and build the decking so that the frame has a slight fall about 1 in 100, which means for every metre the frame travels the change in level, will be 1 cm. The fall should be away from any buildings.
Once the basic frame has been constructed it should be strengthened with cross members to add additional strength.
There are several choices to make. First of all, do you use composite decking or real wood? Composite decking is a mixture of wood, plastic and glues. The main benefits are that it requires less maintenance than some wood decking and also it can be manufactured from recycled material (it isn't always so check before you buy). The plastic content prevents water penetration and all the problems that come with it; rotting, mould growth, slipperiness, expansion and warping. You can prevent these issues with real wood decking if you clean your decking and use wood preservatives. However, this can be a lot of work hence why people are willing to pay slightly more for composite decking. The main downside is that composite decking rarely looks as beautiful as real wood.
If you go the real wood route then you need to decide which type of wood to use. Softwoods like pine are really cheap but you should preserve and/or seal your deck boards to extend their life and reduce your cleaning and maintenance work. You can buy specialist decking products in any decent DIY shop or online. Hardwoods are far superior in terms of their longevity however they are exceedingly expensive. A great alternative decking material is a treated wood like Accoya. The treatment process is non-toxic - basically pickling on an industrial scale. This changes the chemical structure of the wood to prevent water absorption giving the timber all the benefits of composite wood without using any plastic or glues and it has all the beauty of 100% natural wood.
The finished surface
The key is to keep the wood in as long a lengths as possible. When laying the surface you need to screw it to the frame. This is best achieved by marking out the lines you wish the screws to go and pre drilling the holes, finally using an electric screw driver to secure the decking boards .Nailing the boards to the frame is a waste of time because the boards will twist pulling the nails out.
A good tip is to use a small spacing bar to make sure the space between each board is the same. This space should be between 2 and 5 mm. Once the decking is finished we normal recommend not painting or treating it because this only creates additional work in the years to come
If you do not wish to build your own deck then there are a number of contractors that specialize in building decking areas such as a GardenAdvice recommended supplier for the construction of decking areas both for the garden and commercial projects