What is Decking and Decking Terms
What is Decking?
With the busy lives we all lead, it is becoming increasingly difficult to spend quality time in the garden. The addition of a deck enhances a garden and reduces the amount of maintenance needed on it, providing more time to relax and enjoy the space. Quite simply, a well-designed deck will be a worthy component of any garden.
For centuries people have been creating shelters for pleasure as well as for necessity as protection from the elements. In areas with mild climates, outdoor areas have become living spaces in themselves, acting as an extension of the main house. This has lead to an explosion of designer spaces for the garden, using areas that were previously impractical or unattractive. The deck is merely another room in the garden and as much a feature as the garden pond or lawn. There is a place in almost every garden for a deck, whether it is to be used for cooking, eating, entertaining, bathing or playing. It can be an extension of the lounge for the adults to relax without the children or a safe, dry playroom for the children themselves. Decks make an easy addition to the garden and have no end of uses. In addition, they are quick and simple to construct, and anyone with DIY skills can install one.
Decks can be used as level spaces in the garden with a wide range of uses. They differ from patios in that they are made from wood and are raised above the ground, but the essential idea of a levelled space is similar.
Decks are predominantly an extension of the main living areas of relaxation, eating and working. The barbecue becomes the cooker and is often built into an outdoor kitchen area with sinks and water on tap, but usually just abarbecue is used. With the use of subtle lighting, a small patio fireplace and a comfy chair, the deck can become an area of peace and tranquility after the hustle and bustle of work. Now that hot tubs and spas have become more affordable, the deck offers the perfect place for a relaxing soak. Even a sauna can be incorporated into the deck area.
As with any living space the deck can be split into several levels and have steps leading to other areas, each for its own separate use — the small deck with the morning sun for breakfast to the larger deck for entertaining friends.
The deck can be used to cut down on the lawn area, thereby reducing time and money spent on maintenance. The greenhouse or garden shed can be put at the end of the deck to allow easy access in poor weather. Decking can be extended around the swimming pool to become the ‘beach’, more pleasant underfoot than hot paving.
All decks are built from the ground up with many key elements connected to produce a strong, lasting structure. The following terms, to be used throughout the ‘Decking’ section of this site, are explained below:
- Beams are fixed to the top of posts and support the joists. The larger the beam the greater distance between the posts, but larger posts will be required.
- Footings support the deck and restrict movement to natural timber expansion and shrinkage. Normally 30 cm square and 15cm deep, they are situated on firm, undisturbed soil. Concrete building blocks can be used as an alternative.
- Joists create the framework for the deck boards to be fixed to. The joists need to be fixed at 40cm centres to prevent the deck from having a bouncy feel to it. The thicker the deck boards the larger the spacing you can have between the joists. Your decking supplier will be able to advise you on this. If in doubt use smaller spacings. Decking is the show piece of the work. Your deck design and pattern will dictate the joist construction underneath. Deck boards should not be wider than 15cm (150mm) as the wider the wood the more likely it is to cup/warp across the width, and collect water.
- Ledger boards are joists that are bolted or fixed to the side of a house or building to create a fixing point for the deck. It should be fixed so that the top of the deck is below the door sill to stop rain water entering the house.
- Noggins are small spacers used to keep the joists at a set distance. As larger decks can wobble, the noggins also make the deck more rigid.
- Posts support the deck above the ground and must be of sufficient size to carry the weight of the deck and its load. Minimum size is a 100 x 100mm post.