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The publication, "Timber Decks - Design & Construction Manual" is a good reference for building a DIY deck, or to assist those otherwise interested in understanding how to design & build a deck.

It is an illustrated guide with information such as footing sizes & construction details. Importantly, it has span tables the equal to those in AS1684.2 enabling the sizing & layout of the framing members to be determined by a compenent DIY handyman.

However, if a professional standard is required, use a professional! Especially for complex shapes or decks over a metre high.

These are some of the questions you should ask before you engage a deck builder:
Deck construction is required to be in accordance with:

Deck & balcony construction

   Building Code of Australia

   AS1684.2 Residential timber-framed construction

   Guide to Standards & Tolerances (VBA)
Building Permit

Almost all decks require a building permit, will the permit be supplied as part of the service? Do not employ a builder that tries to convince you to work without one - they have something to hide. The building surveyor will protect your interests by ensuring construction work meets the minimum required standards.

Joist Protection

Will the top of joists be protected from weather? Joist flashing inhibits water penetration into nail holes. Without it, nails will work loose over time resulting in "nail pop". It also protects the joist & underside of the decking.

Deck board fixing

Although 50mm galvanised decking nails are in common use, we use 65mm stainless steel decking nails. The extra length provides additional holding power to minimise any "nail pop" due to the flexing of the structure.

Stainless steel nails will not corrode in contact with the chemicals in treated timber, whereas galvanised nails will deteriorate over time.

The ultimate fixing method is the use of 65mm 10 gauge ss square drive decking screws. This however adds $30/m2 for 140mm wide boards, & more for narrower boards, as every fixing point has to be pre-drilled, countersunk, & hand screwed. We will use this method on request, & recommend it be used around swimming pools & decks exposed to high traffic loads.

Some concealed fixing systems are a suitable alternative, but are more expensive again, as they require specially milled or engineered boards to be successful.

More......

Refer to our Deck specification for additional details
Contact Rob Eadie:
rob@outsidestructures.com.au
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0402 908 562

Decking boards

The most readily available timber decking boards are Blackbutt, Spotted Gum, Tallowwood, Merbau and Bamboo. There are other Australian hardwoods suitable for use, such as Ironbark & 'River Reds', but not as widely available.

We prefer to use Merbau. It's physical properties are equal to or better than the others, but more importantly, it is more stable after installation.

The Australian hardwoods are more reactive to the weather, resulting in more shrinkage/expansion, are prone to cupping, and more susceptible to splitting.

We understand there is some reluctance to use Merbau, due to doubts over its provenance.

However, the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 prohibits the import of illegally harvested timber & importers are required to undertake due diligence to minimise the risk of illegal imports.

Some Clients also prefer the colours & variations in the Australian hardwoods, or to match internal flooring.

Boards are 19mm thick, with 70mm, 90mm & 140mm widths available, with the Australian hardwoods a few mm narrower. Planks are also available in 42mm thick in Merbau, with a limited range in the Australian hardwoods.

The width of decking boards vary by 1 or 2mm over the length of the board, except for engineered boards. We set out every 5 or so boards to a chalkline, to ensure the  boards are laid in straight lines & not wavy. The variation in board widths is therefore accomodated in adjusting each gap width over the 5 boards. This is particularly important in long decks.
A balustrade is required to the sides of a deck or balcony where there is a 1m or more fall from the deck to the ground. We refer to decks built at first floor level as balconies.

There are specific design & construction requirements for balustrades in the Building Code of Australia intended to ensure the structure can't be climbed over, or fallen through

We build balustrades in all timber, such as picket style, or with stainless steel wire rope infills. These are very popular as they are far less view blocking.

There are about 10 rigging systems available for connecting ss wire rope to stainless steel or timber posts.

We use the systems requiring the use of a special hydraulic press, so that there are no exposed cut ends of the wire. This is much neater, & safer than the hand-swaging method.

Deck & balcony balustrades

Round timber deck
This project required the reconstruction of 3 semi-circular deck areas of 120m2

Advanced decay had set into the unprotected harwood joists
Curved merbau timber deck

Timber deck pictures & project info

Merbau decking extends the outdoor living area beyond the al-fresco room

Stumps are set back from deck edges so the deck & fascia appear to float
Alfresco room deck
Deck to al-fresco room expands living area
Pool decking
Wide spotted gum boards to pool deck
Features spotted gum wide boards (135mm) & cantilevered platform steps

Screen doors in the background (66mm boards) hide the pool equipment
Pool deck & screens
Pool decking with spotted gum screening & storage seating bench
Spotted gum wide board decking with screened, elevated entertaining platform & wide steps

Storage/ seating bench & screen
Al-fresco area decking
Merbau decking each side of the central al-fresco room

Long decks especially require boards to be accurately set out in straight lines
Al-fresco room long deck & screens
Deck, balustrade & steps
Raised timber deck, merbau base-boarding & merbau handrail.                 
Stainless steel wire rope & fittings balustrade infill
Deck platforms
Raised deck platforms of varying heights
Deck platforms at varying heights form separate activity zones & create visual interest.               

Design brings the (new) garden inwards
Picture frame deck
Picture framed deck using140mm wide spotted gum boards
Wide board decking in picture frame border with corner seating bench             

Low treated pine garden retaining wall lined with 135mm spotted gum boards
Garden walkway
Timber decking used to create stepped, floating garden walkway
Free form steps leading from home to pool area in 140mm wide merbau       

Detailed & built to appear to float above rockery garden
Entry portico picture frame deck in 90mm merbau
Picture frame deck
Decking contained within a picture frame border to the homes entry portico   

A picture frame border allows a deck to project over edge fascia
Boardwalk bridge
Stepped deck bridge connection using 42 thick merbau planks
A stepped bridge connects two decked spaces about a triangular shaped planter    

Planks are 42mm thick merbau, 140 wide fixed with 100mm 12g ss screws
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   To define an outdoor leisure or entertaining area

   To replace an existing paved area or patio

   To shape or provide definition to a homes landscaping

   A unifying landscape design element

   To connect between spaces, eg garden, home, garage

   To take advantage of a view

   To overcome sloping site challenges
Development of a deck's design from these original idea(s) is informed by some, or all of the following considerations & factors:
The pictures in our deck project gallery above confirm our ability to bring all these design & construction aspects together into custom built solutions to suit your home & patio living requirements.

More......

See our Design page for ideas and plans for your deck or balcony.

Deck design

Decking designs range from simple rectangles to multi-level, complex shapes with features such as bench seating & screening.

A deck is often a key part of a home's patio or outdoor leisure & entertaining area, and as a warm, natural material, it is perfect for blurring the edge between indoor and outdoor environments.

A deck can be a surface, platform or balcony, or any combination & design starts with one or more of these ideas:
   Architectural style of the home

   Exposure to weather

   Outlook & privacy

   Specific uses, eg pool deck

   Inclusion of features, eg BBQ, bench, storage, screening

   Physical constraints, eg. shape of home & land, easements

   Structural limitations

   Building regulations

   Materials

   Budget

Custom designed & built timber decks to suit your home & patio living requirements