Decking Ideas and Preparation
Preparing the Site for Your
In any project preparation is the key to a quick and efficient job. Once debris has been cleared and weeds have been removed, the deck can be started. Place all the required materials in a position that is easy to reach — this not only makes construction easier but allows for a smooth flow to the work rather than continually stopping and starting.
Although most modern timber is decay resistant, it is best to avoid contact with soil as this will allow moisture to work its way into the deck and spoil the finish. With low level decks some time spent on preparation will help save work in the long run.
The first job is to make sure the ground drains well, as the deck must not sit in water. Measure the deck area out and mark the site with posts. Remove any surface plant growth to 5cm below the ground level and cover the soil with weed block or thick black polythene (perforated every 30cm or so to help drainage) to prevent re-growth of weeds through the.
Cover the area with a coarse gravel. This serves two functions: it holds down the ground cover material and allows the joists to touch the ground but not the soil, letting air circulate freely around them. Dig out any live tree stumps as they could regrow and damage the deck.
On higher decks the ground underneath could well be visible and the combination of ground cover am: gravel not only stops weeds but also looks neat and tidy.
Remove plants – Dig out and conserve any plants you want to keep. Skim off annual weed growth or lawn grass with a spade or use a systemic weedkiller to remove perennial weeds.
Remove loose items – It is much easier to bolt the framework onto a solid surface. It is also far more secure. Removing any old steps like this will also mean that the decking can go straight up to the doors.
Move pipework – Again it a pain to co the decking all over the place. Consider option of slightly moving fittings if it will make the pipe fit between beams, thereby avoiding having to work around them.
Trim plants – Any plants that encroach onto the decking will need to be trimmed away to allow maintenance of the deck. The plants’ sap will also stain the timber if it comes into contact with the decking.
Fix weed block – Fix down landscaping fabric to stop any weeds growing under the deck. This prevents light reaching the soil and inhibits plant growth, but allows water through for drainage.
Cover grass – It is best to protect the lawn from damage by covering it with a tarpaulin or sheet. This also allows any droppedto be collected rather than laying in the grass waiting to be stepped on.
Re-Using an Old Base
An old concrete or paved patio makes – perfect base for a new deck and requires little preparation before we can begin. The patio should fall away. From the house to aid drainage. If not, the deck can be bolted to the house and raised to create a slope. If water sits on the existing patio, create a fall on the joists to stop water laying on the timber and soaking in. If the deck is to extend beyond the patio, use piers set on a gravel base to fix the additional decking. If the ground falls away from the deck you will need to build footings to rest the posts on; these will raise the deck to the current level.
When to Build It
Subject to weather conditions, timing is not really a factor that comes in to play, although obviously spring and summer often give the best weather for construction.
Space for the Delivery
If the deck is large it is definitely worth getting the supplier to deliver as they with have a properly equipped vehicle to unload the timber. This not only saves time and effort, but also guarantees the safe arrival of the materials.
Due to the weight of timber, find an area to store it that is easy to access; move it once, not two or three times! The position needs to be local to the site and should not obstruct the access of wheelbarrows. Stack the timber with joists on top as you will need them first. Position it off the ground as otherwise water will soak in and make it much heavier to work with; it may even stain the surface. Place a cover over the timber in case of rain.
Leave Plenty of Time
Decks are easy to build, but time will pass quicker than you think. Allow twice as long as you predict to build the deck and don’t rush it. Never work in dusk or dark conditions as power tools are not safe in this environment. If you can, get a friend to help as it will make the project much more enjoyable than struggling on alone.
There are times when the landscape may have to be levelled and excess soil removed. If this is the case, remove the best topsoil and put it to one side; it can be used in the garden rather than just wasted. The subsoil and any turf can be disposed of. A skip is the easiest method of disposal and it should be kept until the end of the project as any materials left over can be taken away when the deck has been constructed.