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:
To define an outdoor leisure or entertaining area
To replace an existing paved area or patio
To shape or provide definition to a home's 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 ideas is informed by some, or all of the following considerations & factors:
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, easement
Town planning requirements
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.
The most readily available timber decking boards are Blackbutt, Spotted Gum, Tallowwood, Yellowbox, Merbau and Bamboo. There are other Australian hardwoods suitable for use, such as Ironbark & 'River Reds', but not as widely available.
We usually recommend Merbau. It's physical properties are equal to or better than the others, but more importantly, it is more stable after installation. It has a uniform, rather bland appearance.
The Australian hardwoods are more reactive to the weather, resulting in more shrinkage/expansion, are prone to cupping, and more susceptible to splitting and weathering.
However some Clients prefer the character & patina intrinsic to the Australian hardwoods, with their wide variety of colours & grain patterns or sometimes to match internal flooring.
We understand there is some reluctance to use Merbau, due to doubts over it's 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.
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.
Deck construction is required to be in accordance with:
Building Code of Australia
AS1684.2 Residential timber-framed construction
Guide to Standards & Tolerances (VBA)
If you are intending to go down the DYI path, the publication, "Timber Decks - Design & Construction Manual" provides a good starting point for providing an understanding of what may be involved in deck construction.
It is not, however, an "Acceptable Design Manual" under the BCA .
You will need to engage a registered Draftsperson to design the structure and prepare the plans. Refer to the VBA website for "owner builder" requirements.
However, if a professional standard is required, use a professional! Especially for complex shapes or decks over a metre high.
Outside Structures design in accordance with the regulations, and prepare our own building permit plans.
Almost all decks require a building permit. Does the builder you are considering include the supply of the permit 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.
Decks over 1.5m high are often required to have a Structural Engineer's certification and design.
Refer to our Legal page for more information on building permits and building regulations.
Ensure that the top of the joists will 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 $40/m2 for 140mm wide boards, & more for narrower boards, as every fixing point has to be pre-drilled, countersunk, & 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.
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.
Note that horizontal wire systems are prohibited in decks or balconies > 4m above ground level.
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. We can also arrange for specialist installation of frameless glass balustrade systems.
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 commonly used hand-swaging method.