Whether you want to relax in the sun, entertain guests or want to add an attractive feature, a garden deck is the perfect way to enhance your garden space. However, there’s a lot to think about when building a deck which can make the project rather complicated, particularly for beginners. For this reason, we’ve put together our top tips to building a durable deck.
Before making any significant changes to your garden it’s important to understand the planning permission requirements. Decking and other raised platforms are considered to be permitted development which does not require planning permission, providing:
The decking is no more than 30cm above the ground
The decking or platforms cover no more than 50 per cent of the garden area
Space your deck boards
Gaps in your deck boards may seem like a small step in the project, but they are an essential part to achieving a durable deck. Fail to do this correctly and the consequences can be significant. Poorly spaced boards can lead to damaged boards and even your framing.
The primary function of spacing between deck boards is to provide sufficient airflow through your decking. This helps to keep your deck’s framework dry and prevent rotting. An acceptable gap between the boards is generally between 3mm (1/8 inch) and 6mm (1/4 inch). However, both sizes have their pros and cons.
For example, 3mm spacing provides fewer trip hazards and better airflow, making the 3mm spacing a safe surface for walking. However, smaller gaps decrease the airflow which reduces the risk of fire. But less ventilation under your deck can disrupt drainage.
Whereas the 6mm spacing provides the opposite to 3mm spacing. While larger spacing provides better ventilation, drainage and debris removal, wider gaps can increase the risk of trip hazards. Plus, greater air flow can make your deck more of a fire hazard.
For this reason, many builders split the difference go with 4mm to 5mm (3/16 inch) spacing between deck boards.
Foundation and footings
A foundation is an important component as it provides a solid foundation that will support your deck. Simply place concrete slabs at the corner and centre points of your deck’s space. This will also keep the wooden frame off of the damp ground which will prolong your deck’s life.
When making your foundation don’t forget to use a spirit level to ensure the foundation in all directions.
In addition, if you are building a larger deck, it’s always a great idea to have it supported by footings to stabilise the construction. Generally, this only applies to large decks as smaller decks that are a few inches off of the ground can sit securely on concrete slabs.
Footings are also important if you have troublesome soil because it prevents the foundation from settling. But keep in mind that footings should be set lower than the frost line so it can prevent the deck from moving when the soil freezes over the winter months.
Learn more about how to build deck footings.
Unless you would like your decking to weather naturally, it’s important to finish your decking with high-quality UV protection oil. A great benefit of using UV oils is some contain an added grip feature which will make your decking safer for the family.
Alternatively, you can use paint to keep your deck in top condition. Not only will it keep your deck looking fresh and attractive, it can prevent rot and mold and also sun damage. Plus, the colour choices are endless! But keep in mind that darker paint can be easier to clean than light-coloured or stain.
Whichever way you choose to finish your deck, it’s important to treat it once a year to keep it in top condition for years to come.
Use high quality woodscrews
Deck screws are the most underappreciated parts of a deck. These small pieces of metal must be able to hold a deck in place whilst enduring the toughest of conditions. If they fail, you’re then left with an unstable pile of wreckage instead of a usable outdoor structure. For this reason, be sure to use long-lasting screws that are suitable for outdoor use.
Optimaxx is a great example of a long-lasting woodscrew that’s perfect for any deck project. Optimaxx woodscrews are the world’s best extreme high-performance woodscrew that include a range of unique application benefits. Including a precisely cut angled slash point and serrated threads to enable a fast penetration without the need for a pilot hole. Along with a wide deep thread pattern and 24 grooves cut into the underside of the countersunk head. This provides a tight lock into the timber and prevents the screw from sitting proud above the timber.
For less concern about rust, we recommend using Optimaxx Deck Screws. These are complete with a unique Maxxtect coating with a lifetime exterior anti-corrosion guarantee and can withstand a 2000-hour salt spray test.
How long a deck lasts depends on many factors, including
The quality of the timber used
The quality of the build
Protective measures taken
A deck that’s made from high-quality timber, is well-constructed and maintained can last up to 25-30 years. Of course, some of these factors are subject to your budget. But incorporating these tips you will help extend your deck’s life and therefore, will allow you to enjoy your decking for much longer.