Garden decking is an increasingly popular outdoor feature of homes throughout the UK, so if you’re considering adding it to your outdoor space this summer, you’re not alone! However, if the idea of getting someone in to install it isn’t the most appealing notion for you, you’ll be glad to know that the task doesn’t need a massive amount of specialist knowledge – just some basic DIY skills and some good old-fashioned elbow grease! Here’s how you can lay garden decking in three simple steps.
Start by preparing the ground before you start building the deck. For example, you’ll either need to build the deck somewhere with good drainage (a minimum gradient of 1 in 40) or you’ll need to put in an under-deck drainage system.
Next, you’ll want to put pegs in the ground to mark where the corners of the deck will be. Attach builder’s line or string to the pegs to mark the edges of your future deck. Remove all rocks, weeds and vegetation, and be careful to leave space for the footing posts of the deck (if these are part of your project)! Next, install your deck posts – these typically sit in concrete foundations, maximising their durability and reliability.
This step involves building a base frame for the decking using treated timbers. Cut the joists to the right size, and then screw them together with galvanised screws. Create the perimeter before you put in the joists. (A small deck needs at least three joists, whereas most larger decks need more.)
The joists will sit on the ground to provide a level surface for the wood planks of the deck you see. Consider using grooved boards that run down the slope to make it easier for rainwater to naturally drain away. If these same boards are parallel to your slope, they might collect rainwater and cause the deck to rot. Once the joists are in place, you may need to add pieces of wood between the joists and under them to make the framework rigid.
After you’ve built the frame, it’s time to fix the deck boards. Either lay the boards in the opposite direction to the joists or horizontally to the joists. Don’t lay them at angles to the joists. This makes the deck surface as strong as possible. Again, attach the boards with galvanised screws or decking screws. If you pre-drill the holes before screwing the boards into place, it minimises the chances of the boards cracking. A countersinking tool helps the screws sit just below the wood surface so the screw heads are not a trip hazard. Use two screws at the end of each plank to help hold the boards in place.
Put about 10 millimetres between each board. This allows water to drip through the deck and drain away, air to circulate under the deck and minimise rot, and lets the wood expand during hot weather. Only join boards over the joists.
If the deck will be fitted to a building, you’ll need to attach the deck frame to it. You can attach it using ledger board, though the board needs to be totally straight. Attaching flashing during this process helps ensure that the connection point doesn’t end up funnelling moisture into your home.
If the deck is elevated or there is a drop to ground level, you’ll need to put in steps. You can buy pre-built risers, treads and stringers to put together. Even if you’re not normally a confident Do-It-Yourselfer, trust us – there are few better feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment! What’s more, you can get everything you need for the project right here at Savoy Timber – just swing by any of our DIY stores in Preston, Blackpool or Wigan, and our friendly members of staff will be only too happy to provide any assistance or advice you might need.