Easy Build Decks and Verandas

Another Owner-Builder Network Resource

Free-standing decks – a great alternative

One of the first considerations an owner-builder needs to make is what type of deck you want to build. Decks come in all shapes and sizes, and functions. Could a free-standing deck be the right one for you.

Free-standing decks can turn difficult to use spots into the best part of your home...

Free-standing decks can turn difficult to use spots into the best part of your home…

What is a free-standing deck?
Free-standing decks are not directly attached to a house or other structure. Typical free-standing decks don’t include a roof, making them perfect for outdoor events. Because they don’t have to interface with any other structures, free-standing decks are also very strong and durable.

An example of how decks can transform a suburban yard

An example of how decks can transform a suburban yard

Free-standing decks are perfect for sloping properties as they can transform the sloping yards into extra living space. They’re also ideal when building around or through existing trees you don’t intend to cut down or relocate.

A simple example of how a free-standing deck can enhance your lifestyle

A simple example of how a free-standing deck can enhance your lifestyle

Turning steep, difficult terrain into the best spot on the block

Turning steep, difficult terrain into the best spot on the block

How free-standing decks are used?
A free-standing deck is your own personal oasis. It’s a perfect place for relaxation and a space that allows you to escape from your worldly troubles. It can be the best place to host parties, entertain guests, or simply enjoy some sun or cool breezes.

A very simple, yet very elegant, free-standing deck

A very simple, yet very elegant, free-standing deck

Free-standing decks can also provide an extraordinary view as they can be positioned much higher than a deck attached to a structure, giving you a better view of the surroundings. This height advantage is one of the main reasons why they’re ideal for sloping properties.

Building your free-standing deck
Free-standing decks are an easy project, even for novices. In fact, they’re a great ‘practice’ project before tacking a deck attached to your home. Concrete embedded posts or stirrups are typically used to support free-standing decks. When building on slopes its best to provide extra length for the posts, ensuring that you don’t come short when you try to level the deck. Also be aware of the need for balustrades in any section of your deck is more than around 900mm (3 ft) above ground level. Your local building code will have specific regulations. If you’re not sure where to start, just go back to our very first decking blog and work your way through the steps!

Convinced? Are there any particular features about free-standing decks that appeal to you? How would you use your free-standing deck?


Finishing your deck – oil or stain?

Now that you’re done constructing your deck the only thing left to do is to add the finishing touches.  Both oils and stains have their own distinct advantages. In this post we’ll have a look at both finishing materials.

A good deck can make a house a home...

A good deck can make a house a home. In this example, the deck is oiled without any tint.

Finishing your deck with an oil or stain is an important step to ensure that your deck will last for years. Untreated wood is vulnerable to cracking, fading, and weathering and attack by fungus and other microbes. Treated timber will also dry and crack over time but will not rot assuming the treatment has been performed properly.  Regular application of an oil or stain ensures that decking materials are well protected against the major causes of deterioration.

Decking Oil:
Decking oil is used to protect wood from weathering and UV exposure. Because it soaks into the timber, restoring lost natural oils it significantly reduces the risk of decay. The right oil also greatly enhances the appearance of the deck.

Choosing the right colour
Decking oils vary in terms of colour. Tinted oils provides a richer and darker tone to the wood and are best for lighter shaded wood. Natural (untinted) oils retains the original colour of the wood. Wood valued for its colour is best finished using clear oils because it highlights the deep and rich natural colour of the wood.

Note that you should apply the first coat of oil as soon as practicable after completion. Delaying, even for a few weeks, will cause some permanent discolouration and bleaching of your timbers.

Decking oil application
The method of application depends upon the variety of wood and the type of oil you’re using. In recent years, despite sounding counter-intuitive, some excellent water-based oils have become available. They are very easy to apply and give an excellent finish however, in my experience, need re-coating more frequently than traditional oils.  The trade-off is that they are quick to apply so your annual time commitment is probably equal.

This deck has been stained with a light pigment

This deck has been oiled with a light pigment to give a consistent colour

To get the best results with any oil (or stain) it’s best to experiment by applying the oil on an off-cut from the job to see what the finished effect will be. If you have used a combination of timbers, for example, pine and cedar, make sure you test the oil on both as they will give very different results. You may need to add a tint to the pine and use a clear finish on the cedar.

Go lightly, my friend…
Avoid applying thick coats of oil as the excess oil can attract dust and other particulates. Instead, apply a light coat wait between a week or even a fortnight between coats. This will give the oil time to soak completely into the wood before you apply additional coats.

Wood stains:
Much like decking oil, wood stains also protect wood from weathering, UV rays, and other forms of deterioration. Unlike an oil, stains seal the wood, adding an extra layer of protection against the elements. It is important to understand the difference because you cannot ‘unstain’ timber.

Wood stains are used to permanently alter the colour of the wood. Stains come in a wide variety of penetrating strengths. These strengths allow you to control the depth of colour and tint of the wood.

Wood stain variation
The ability of the stain to penetrate determines the kind of pigmentation it’s able to create. Less penetrating stains provides a solid stain. Less penetrating stains provide the best UV protection but because they don’t penetrate well they fade easily. Deep penetrating stain provides transparent or semi-transparent finish. Deep penetrating stains provide less protection against UV rays but are able to highlight the natural grain and character of timber.

An example of staining. The finish is permanent.

An example of staining. The finish is permanent.

Wood stain maintenance
Wood stain also requires resealing but doesn’t require the same level of maintenance as decking oil. However, your decking is going to be exposed to the weather 24 hours a day and will look tatty if you leave it to long between scheduled maintenance.  You should also be aware that regular re-coating will minimise your ‘prep time’ – the hardest part of any painting process. 

Wood stain application
As with decking oil, it’s best to apply a couple of coats to off-cuts or excess pieces of wood to test the final look of the stain. You should also avoid rebrushing stain that has already been applied as this will often result in annoying changes in colour depth in that spot.  Instead, work consistently in one direction. You should also stain the entire area in one sitting as this will give full colour consistency.

So, there you go!  Both oil and stain have distinct advantages.  For me, the decision usually comes down to the quality of timber used. If the deck is merbau, teak or jarrah for example, I will want to highlight and enhance the natural beauty of those timbers by using a clear oil. If the deck is pine, II will usually choose a solid colour stain in order to get colour consitency and to provide maximum protection.

Now it’s over to you… oil or stain? Which one will you use and why?

If you have any questions or you’d like to share your experience, just scroll down to the comments box below. Thanks for joining me. 



Should you roof your deck?

A wide span, insulated skillion roof

A wide span, insulated skillion roof

Last time we talked about deck flooring and balustrades. With the flooring and balustrades in place your deck is ready to use.  But one vital question remains – to roof or not to roof?

Installing a roof isn’t just about protecting your deck from the climate. In fact, as long as you’ve properly weatherproofed your deck you can rest assured that it’s safe from nearly anything the weather can throw at it.  A roof allows you to enjoy your deck at any time, rain, hail or shine. A roof can also minimise maintenance if you’ve built near trees – you won’t have to worry about sweeping up the leaves every time you want to use it.

Roofing installation
Sturdy deck roofing can withstand the test of time, saving you from the unnecessary expense and hassle of repairs.

Choosing the right roof pitch
Deck roofing comes in different shapes and sizes, but regardless of the design, the roofing’s ability to effectively drain water depends upon its pitch – the degree of slope..  

Flat deck roofing – called skillion – is easy to install and economical to boot, as you only require a limited number of steel sheets for a full build. It’s also convenient when it comes to maintenance as it supports weight well.

The downside of flat deck roofing is that if the pitch is inadequate rain water will pool leading to potential leakage problems. Water pooling on top of the roof can also create a haven for mosquitoes – the last thing you need if you are out enjoying your new deck!

Read and take note of roof manufacturer specifications.  While some metal roofs need only a one degree slope (1 centimetre per metre) other profiles need a minimum five degrees (5 centimetres per metre). Examples would be a ‘Cliplock’ profile needing only one degree while corrugated profiles must have a minimum of five degrees.  The reality is that any slope can channel water towards the gutters and down spouts helping to eliminate any problems that may come with leakage or standing water. From personal experience, I choose a minimum 2.5 degree pitch for any profile where 1 degree is specified as adequate and definitely 5 degrees or more for corrugated profiles.

Make sure you have enough roof overhang so that water does not run back under the roofing on to your deck  – especially if you have minimum pitch.

Obviously, you want your deck roof to blend with the house.  However, be aware that pitched roofs, whether they are gable or hip, will be more expensive than a skillion roof.  Both gable and hip are more labour intensive and also require more materials.  A hip roof is the most complex and expensive option.

Unless you have a minimum 2.7 metres (9 foot) of clearance under your roof, I strongly recommend you insulate.  If you want to understand how much heat can radiate through a roof in peak summer, take a trip into your home’s roof space! 

If you decide to insulate, consider one of the bonded roofing options.  These are a ‘sandwich’ of roofing and insulation with a finished underside.  The material cost is higher but some of these sheets can span six metres (20 feet) reducing framing and finishing costs.  The bonus is that they look very ‘finished’ once they are up.

If you have decided to roof your deck, you should also consider adding clear vinyl roll-up curtains.  In fine weather keep them rolled up out of the way so that you can enjoy the breeze and the view.  But when it rains, or in cold weather, they can transform your deck into a year round, weather independent living space.

Roofing your deck will multiply its usability by offering excellent weather protection, especially with side curtains. The roof will also enhance the visual appeal of the deck which, in turn, should increase the value of your home to any intending purchaser.

In our next post we’ll discuss whether to oil or stain your deck.

In the meantime. if you have any questions or suggestions – or simply a comment – just type it below and I’ll respond.


Deck Flooring and balustrades

Deck seating.

Have you considered building your seating along with your deck?

So far we’ve covered everything from planning right through to your footings and joists. Today we’ll be tackling a challenge involving two important aspects of deck building. It’s time to install your deck flooring and balustrades.

Deck Flooring
This deck members (the floor slats) are installed on top of the deck joist. Aside from simply being the parts you stand on, the members also help to strengthen and stabilize the whole structure.

Selecting the right decking width
One consideration you have to make as an owner-builder is the width  of your decking boards. Boards come in a variety of widths, fromnarrow to quite wide. A number of factors will influence your choice.

Wider board make for an easier installation for the simple fact that you have fewer boards to place. This could save you a lot of time and effort. If you’re on a tight budget then wide board decking could be right for you.

Although narrow boards require more effort for installation and cost more money than wide boards, they also carry with them a number of perks. Narrow boards provide greater structural strength than wide boards. They’re also excellent for achieving intricate flooring designs, giving narrow board decking the edge when it comes to aesthetics.

Flooring installation
The most important thing to remember when installing the deck boards is that the grooved side should always be facing down. The grooves aren’t meant for grip or texture – despite the common misconception.  They allow for better airflow underneath the boards, limiting moisture and mould and algae growth.

Deck balustrades
Depending on the height of your deck you may need to install balustrades. This is one of the major considerations you have to keep in mind when seeking a building permit. Local councils have set standards on fencing and balustrades, so it’s important that you consult with them before building.

Below are some of the things you need to consider when installing balustrades:

Even a small fall can be dangerous. Balustrades should be strong enough to support the weight of a fully grown person and the spacing of balustrades should be no more than 100mm (four inches) apart to ensure that the balustrading is strong and small children can’t slip through. It’s also important to ensure that the balustrade is of a sufficient height that children can’t easily climb them and that adults can’t topple (tipple?) over them either.

Balustrades keep your deck safe and at the same time can help give it a stylish look. There are many designs to choose from and nearly as many materials, but timber is still the popular choice thanks to the variety of textures and colours available.

Once your flooring and balustrades are installed your deck is all but finished.

What will you use for flooring, the wider deck board or the narrower ones? What kind of balustrade will you use? Comment below or join our decking group.

Should you roof your deck? Find out in our next post!



Putting Down your Footings and Joists

Your deck will only ever be as good as your foundations

Your deck will only ever be as good as your foundations

In the previous post we discussed deck site preparation. Hopefully you’re ready to move forward?

Now that your deck site is ready you can begin the construction. The first thing you need to do is establish your footings. These form the support structure of the deck. Regardless of how tight your budget may be, this is not the pace to cut corners.  What you do here will determine the longevity and long term visual appeal of your deck.

Footings options
Whilst they may differ in terms of design – some are made for reactive soil, others to resist corrosion, others still to support elevated decks – all footings share an identical purpose and that is to give stability and durability to the deck.

To help you choose the right footings, we’ve listed some of the most common deck footings design.

Concrete- embedded posts
This type of deck footing starts with a hole. The hole is partially filled with concrete. After the concrete dries, a footing post is fixed on top. The hole is then completely filled with concrete to stabilise and straighten the post.

Concrete embedded posts are quite easy to install but there are a few things you should keep in mind. You should use in-ground rated timber as it resists rotting. You should also use a coarse aggregate as it will ensure good drainage.

Stirrup posts
One of the problems with concrete embedded posts is that you can’t adequately monitor damage within the footing. If this is a concern then we’d recommend stirrup posts. Stirrup posts are made from metal tubing and feature a horseshoe-like stirrup to which the wooden posts are bolted. The design allows you to easily check posts for damage and give you easy access for repairs.

Brick piers
There are areas – for example, very high rainfall regions, in which termite attacks and rotting are all but inevitable. In these conditions even treated timber is not an ideal building material. Instead of timber you can use bricks footings, as they are both termite and rot proof. Bricks are also ideal for reactive soil.

High windage footings
Elevated decks require a special kind of high windage footing. High windage footings are made from concrete filled steel. As a result they are very sturdy and resistant to corrosion caused by leaks.

Screw piles
These are also known as ‘screw footings’ and ‘ground screws’.

Screw footings alternatives

Screw piles come in a range of shapes and sizes to suit varying applications

Screw piles are an increasingly popular and effective foundation option. Although relatively new, they have proved themselves in many installations including heavy industrial type buildings.  They are typically much faster and cheaper to install than traditional footings.

Each screw pile is composed of a steel pipe shaft with a 45° cut at the bottom and two or more formed helical plates welded outside.  If you consider the holding power of a screw versus a nail, you’ll quickly grasp the advantages.  The “thread” or helix on the screw pile allows it to be turned into the ground with speed and accuracy and the helix also dramatically increases bearing capacity and pull-out resistance making screw piles ideal for projects such as decks.

Deck Joists
After the footings and posts are installed and the bearers held in place, it’s time to install the joists. The joists support the bearers on to which your decking is nailed.  These components are not as formidable as the posts but still play an important role in strengthening and maintaining the orientation of the deck.

The strength of a joist is determined by the material from which it is made and the size of the joist. Standard sizes range from 150×50 up to 300×75 (6×2 to 12×3). The longer the joist span the larger joist size required to prevent warp, twist and sagging.

The space between each joist affects the overall strength of the structure. If you want your decks to support a great amount of load then you need to use a narrow joist spacing.

The stability, durability, and strength of your deck depends on the footings and joists. Get your footings and joists right and you’ll have a stable and solid deck to enjoy for decades to come.

In the next post we’ll cover your bearers, decking, posts and balustrades. Don’t miss it!

See you next time fellow Owner-Builders and DIYers!



Preparing your deck site

Preparing your deck site

A little preparation goes a long way…

In our previous posts you’ve had a crash course on the basic construction processes involved in deck building.

Now that you’ve got the basics down you can begin the construction of the deck. But before you put your hands on any tools you need to prepare the deck site.

Dealing with wood boring Insects
Is the site where you’re planning to build your deck home to any wood boring insects? Termites are considered the most destructive family of wood borers and can potentially infest any wooden component of a deck. The most vulnerable parts are those closest to or in direct contact with the soil, such as the posts. This is especially alarming considering that the posts serve as the main foundations of a deck.

Whilst there’s a commonly held belief that termites actually live in wood, they actually make their homes in the soil. Treating the soil can eliminate a termite problem permanently. Modern treatments are environmentally friendly, only targeting termites and other wood borers and leaving other insects unharmed.

Instal drainage systems
A deck is an outdoor structure exposed to all sorts of conditions and any water that pools below your deck can potentially cause both damage and insect problems. Pools of trapped or stagnant water can become home to mosquitoes and other types of insects. Vapour from evaporating water can warp decking materials, as can constant exposure to moisture.

Running water is equally destructive. As it flows it can erode the soil beneath the deck exposing the footings. The effects might not show instantly, but soil erosion can loosen the footings leaving your deck unstable.

Establishing proper drainage before you start building will eliminate all of these problems and will make the job a lot easier.

Trees – a blessing and a curse
Trees can accentuate the look of your deck but they can potentially cause major damage, especially if they’re growing near the foundations. Roots growing under a deck can disturb the orientation of the foundations causing instability and in a worst case scenario, failure.

When building around trees proper drainage plays an extra role. Good drainage keeps the soil underneath it free from moisture and for the most part roots don’t grow in dry places. Unfortunately there are cases in which drainage can’t deal with unruly roots. The only option then is to cut the tree down, or if possible, transfer it to another place.

Reactive soils
You need to ensure that your deck is built on solid ground. You might not notice it, but soil can change orientation. Reactive soil tends to shift orientation when the moisture level changes.

A geotechnical engineer can help you discover if you have reactive soil. They have the equipment, knowledge and experience needed to test the soil. They can also recommend the ideal foundation design to ensure that your deck is not affected by the reactive soil it’s built on.

Installing pipelines and plumbing
You may not be able to afford to now, but in the future you might want to add other features to your deck, like a spa, pool, hot tub, or gas grill. Thinking ahead and installing the necessary pipelines or plumbing during the initial build will make installation effortless if and when you do decide to add new features. It’s much easier to work with what you already have than it is to plumb or renovate a finished deck.

Correctly preparing your deck site will ensure swift and successful construction, so it’s definitely a task you should invest the time, money and effort to do well.

Is your deck site ready? Have you determined the kind of preparation needed for your deck site?

In the next post we’ll be talking about the footings and joists for your deck. See you then!


It’s your deck. Choose your materials…

Choose your materials

Now that you’re done designing your deck it’s time to move on to the next stage. You might be thinking that you’re ready for the construction stage but hold your horses there’s still a little more preparation to be done. You first have to determine the materials you want to make your deck from. These materials will determine the aesthetics, strength and durability of the project so it’s a task well worth putting the time into.

Here are some of the things you’ll need to consider when choosing your decking materials.


The cost of decking materials is one of the biggest concerns for most owner-builders. You want nothing but the best for our decks, but but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to use the most expensive materials. Check for alternatives that might offer the same quality and style at a much lower cost.


The availability of hardwood timber determines its cost. Most hardwood timbers are quite expensive, with prices increasing in proportion to rarity. As a rule of thumb, indigenous timber makes a better choice than import, as the abundance of local trees should significantly reduce the cost.

WPC and uPVC

WPC (Wood plastic composite) and uPVC (unplasticised PVC) are essentially synthetic versions of wood. WPC is a combination of wood fibres, plastics, and filler materials. uPVC is a more durable version of PVC. These sorts of decking materials are cheaper than most hardwood timber as they can be manufactured in mass quantities rather than having to be grown over a span of years.


There are areas that may require the use of steel. The cost of steel varies depending upon its size and form.

Durability and Strength

Durability pertains to the ability of the material to last under certain types of conditions, while strength pertains to its ability to support certain amount of load.


Certain types of timber are renowned for their durability. Some can resist rotting, termite attack, and even fire enabling the wood to last for many years. Wood is the best material for decking, posts, and support because of its considerable strength.

WPC and uPVC

Compared to wood WPC and uPVC are more durable. These sorts of materials can last longer because of its synthetic composition. WPC and uPVC are made from non-biodegradable substances not susceptible to deterioration but they’re considered more flammable than hardwood timber. WPC and uPVC are inferior to wood in terms of strength.


Steel can last for so many years if painted properly and regularly. The bigger the size the greater amount of load it can take.

Colour and texture

Along with the strength and durability of your deck, you also need to consider the aesthetics.


One of the main reasons why wood decking is so popular is because the colour and texture of wood has a very natural aesthetic. Different timbers each have a unique colour, texture and scent that can compliment your property.

WPC and uPVC

WPC and uPVC possesses the same colour and texture as wood. You can use it as a substitute for certain types of woods not available in your area, allowing you to mimic a distinct texture and colour without having to buy expensive types of timber. Being synthetic products, WPC and uPVC don’t have that distinctive timber smell.

Maintenance requirements

Decking materials are exposed to a variety of conditions that will cause them to deteriorate. You can slow or halt deterioration through proper maintenance.


Wood requires regular maintenance to remain rot and termite free. Every few years another application of stain or oil will keep your deck looking new. Any damage should be repaired immediately.

WPC and uPVC

The good thing about WPC and uPVC is that it doesn’t require much maintenance. It’s non-biodegradable so is able to retain its original characteristics indefinitely. It doesn’t stain easily, and if it does it only requires simple cleaning.


Steel requires regular maintenance as it can easily corrode if exposed to air. Properly and regularly applied rust-proof paint will vastly increase the longevity of a steel deck.


The type of material you choose determines how easy the project will be. It’s best to choose decking materials that can be easily worked.


Wood workability depends upon the type of wood you’re using. Timber is sturdy, but it’s susceptible to splintering. When dealing with expensive timber you should consider whether you have the skill and experience required to work theose materials.

WPC and uPVC

WPC and uPVC are designed to be builder-friendly and require less hands on experience than timber. WPC and uPVC are preformed and customized according to what your deck requires.


Steel is difficult to work with especially if you don’t have previous knowledge and experience. This sort of material requires special equipment and procedures. It’s best to work with an expert when dealing with steel.

Choosing the right decking material is a task worth spending time and effort on. Selecting the best materials will save you money, time and effort. It will ensure that your deck has the kind style you’re looking for and will help your deck withstand the test of time.

What material will you use for you deck? Will alternative decking material save you from overspending? What material will make your deck durable and strong?

Let us know at http://theownerbuildernetwork.co/. We really love to hear from our fellow Owner-Builders.

You wouldn’t want to miss the next post in which we’ll discuss the necessary preparations needed before the actual construction begins.

Join us next time as we continue our journey to successful deck building!


Your Deck – Design and Function

The Escarpment House

This beautiful deck forms part of the Escarpment House which is featured in our ‘Recycled Homes’ gallery

In the previous article we talked about the decking checklist. Have you developed your own checklist yet? Why not share it and your thoughts and ideas by commenting below.   You’ll be helping others by doing so.  Now, to the next stage…

Now that you know what to consider before starting your deck, let’s move on to deck design and function.

One of the most important things to consider when building a deck is the design. A deck design doesn’t come out of nowhere. It should be well planned and specifically suited to fit the owner-builder’s needs and preferences.

The best deck design is one which you have created yourself. Below are the things you need to consider when designing a deck.


A deck is designed in accordance to its function. You might intend to use your deck for relaxation, extra living place, a barbecue area, or perhaps a place where you can hold a party. These functions have corresponding designs that may require different considerations.


The location depends on your preference as owner-builder. You can have your deck built to the front, back, or side of your house. You can have it freestanding or attached to the house. The only thing that matters is that it works for you.

Available Area

The location determines the size of the deck. Ideally a deck is built on the widest space available on the lawn. You need enough space for the deck itself, and extra space around it as an allowance. No matter how small our deck is, established allowance will make it look spacious.


Deck positioning determines the view seen from the deck. The right view can determine the positioning and facing of a deck.

Conditions present in the location

It’s also important that we evaluate our surroundings and determine what conditions our deck is exposed to. Is it prone to fire, extreme and varying weather conditions, or large vegetation such as trees? Ensure that the deck design is able to handle these conditions.  For example, fire extinguishers may be required if the deck is built on fire prone area.

Height of the deck 

Decks are commonly elevated. Some decks have multiple levels. Others are situated on top of slopes. The height of the deck determines whether or not it requires railings for safety and aesthetic purposes.

Structures you might install in the future

You might change our mind in the future so it might be better to save some extra space just in case you need to install a new structure or feature.


Safety is one of the top priorities when building a deck. Railings are mandatory for elevated decks. If you’re planning to set up a barbecue grill it’s a must that you have a fire extinguisher within arm’s reach. Electrical installations must be properly established to avoid fire. Every deck must have adequate safety features depending on the design.


Local councils may have certain standards and requirements for decks. Learn the requirements of the permit and coordinate with the council to meet all the building criteria. It may be a hassle but it will save you a lot of grief in the long run.


A deck adds value to a home. The higher the value of the property the more expensive it is to insure. Certain conditions may also affect the cost of the premium. Consult with your insurer first. Know how much your premium will cost if you decide to add a deck.


Adding a deck means that you’re also adding an extra space that will require maintenance. The kind of maintenance involved depends upon the design, location, and size of the deck. Consider the amount of maintenance involved when designing a deck. After all, what we want to achieve is extra living space for relaxation and entertaining, NOT a space that requires excessive cleaning and maintenance.

Next week we’ll be focused on material selection.  There are lots of alternatives so we’ll cover the pros and cons of each.

Can you already visualize a concept for your deck design? Do you think there’s an aspect you forgot to consider? Do you have other thoughts about deck designs and function? Leave your comments below and also consider joining our decking discussion group at http://theownerbuildernetwork.co/groups/decks-building-and-maintenance/.

‘Til next week!



Your key to success – a pre-start checklist

Deck surrounding pond

Decks – don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

In the previous post we shared our thoughts on one of the best things you can give your home, your family and your friends – a deck.

We discussed the basic definition of a deck, its basic features and purpose. We talked about the benefits a deck gives – not only to the value of your home, but also to your quality of life.

Did you find the post helpful? Did it inspire you to build a deck?

Building a deck can be a satisfying and fulfilling experience that can reward you many times over. Like most things in life, planning is the best way to avoid surprises! To this end we’ve developed a Decking Checklist.

A checklist is one of the best tools to use when starting any project. It provides you with an overview of the things you need to consider before building and can save you from overspending and unnecessary headaches.

So let’s get started:

1. Do you have adequate financial resources to build your deck?

Yes            No

(For most DIYers money is one of the biggest issues. But like many challenges can be overcome or at least alleviated with planning. As we move through this series of blogs, we’ll be discussing some money saving tips and cost effective methods of building a deck so you can get some real bang for your buck!  And, of course, you may intend to stage your building as cash becomes available.)

2. Will you be building it yourself?

Yes            No

-Hiring builders

Building a deck should be within the skill level of most owner-builders but if it’s your first building project you might want to consider working side by side with an experienced tradesman. You will still reap the majority of the savings derived from owner-building but you’ll also gain a lot of knowledge on the way.


Building a deck is probably the easiest serious project you can undertake as a DIYer or owner-builder. The build will give you new skills that will allow you to then undertake more demanding projects. There are also the savings to consider. Finally, you should always keep in mind that we are a community. You’ll find help readily available if you get stuck.

3. What type of deck are you planning to build?

You can create our own design, or you can base it on readily available, pre-drawn deck designs. What is important is that the design corresponds with its function. It’s important for DIYers to understand the purpose of the structure before creating the design.

These are few of the most basic designs of decks.

    • Deck to extend living area
    • Separated deck
    • Spa or pool deck
    • Multiple level decks

4. Is the construction site well cleared and prepared?

Yes            No

Making the necessary preparation saves us a lot of time. Before you even start building, the site should be free from any obstructions, treated for termites and other insects, well leveled and compacted. This ensures that you’re building a deck on solid ground.

5. Have you established proper site drainage?

Yes            No

Proper drainage ensures the safety of your footings, and helps avoid insect problems and soil erosion. It also prevents that terrible damp odour that results from bad drainage.

6. Is your deck properly protected against termites and other types of insects?

Yes            No

Termites and carpenter ants can cause considerable damage to your deck. The soil itself is home to termites and other insects. It’s recommended that soil around the deck be treated before construction takes place. You should also choose termite resistant or treated timbers).

The list of things to consider before building a deck does not end here – this is just a short list to get you started. These things might sound basic but they are crucial to the success of your project.

In our next post we’ll discuss how to design a deck so that it suits your lifestyle.

That’s all for now fellow DIYers, See you in the next post!

What difference did this checklist made? Was it able to help you realize important things you might have overlooked along the way? Did it help you in making the right decision?


All decked out for Summer!

A deck is a great way to enhance your lifestyle

A deck is a great way to enhance your lifestyle

Here’s a great way to add value to your lifestyle and your home…

Most of us get to spend some time away from work during the summer months.  Some will head to the beach or the country-side, but this year,  faced with economic uncertainty, many will choose to stay at home.

Well, here’s an idea and a way to improve your lifestyle for years to come with a project that will make it a summer to remember. And it won’t hurt the value of your home either…

Build a deck!

Building a deck is a project that is well with in the skill level, and finances, of most people. Working on the interior of your home requires knowledge and money – you can’t knock down a wall to open up more space without getting some professional advice.

Is there a spot in your garden or backyard that doesn’t get much use? Maybe it’s an area where the grass won’t grow because it’s too dry, too shady or too wet. Why not deck it?

Over the next few weeks we’ll cover just about everything you need to know to build your own deck. Here’s the first stage…

Step 1: – Planning and Design

Having a deck allows you to create a natural transition from your home to your yard. A deck is a great casual space where you can loosen up a bit, enjoy the outdoors and entertain guests. It’s also a great place to send the kids when you need some ‘quiet time’.

A deck is a great way to increase the value of your home without having to fork out big money for major renovations. Because a deck is elevated, whether it be 30 centimetres or 3 metres, you can avoid all those expensive foundation and drainage costs associated with a conventional extension.

Contrary to popular opinion, a deck doesn’t have to be directly attached to your house. In fact, an attractive walkway leading out to a deck can be a visually dramatic addition to a home – especially with the right plants, such as a hedge of Tiger Grass (Thysanolaena maxima), growing beside the walk.

A deck can be fully or partially roofed or even completely open. Alternatively you could erect a trellis and grow deciduous plants over it so that you have shade in summer and sun in winter. A word of advice – if you live in a hot climate and decide to roof a deck, be aware that heat radiates straight through any single skin cladding. To avoid problems you should either use an insulated panel system or allow a minimum 2.7 metre height with excellent side ventilation.

Have we got you thinking about the possibilities? If so, give some thought to these issues so that everything runs smoothly:

Location – Ideally, you want to have a good view of the outdoor scenery (and avoid unsightly ones). Depending on which side your deck is facing it can be too windy or too sunny, especially during the summer, so think about the necessity of wind breaks of shade screens. If you’re decking toward the street, will you need to screen it for privacy? Will you use plants or build a screen?

Function – Are you going to use your deck to host big parties or just for family or intimate gatherings? You’ll probably want a spot for a BBQ or pizza oven but what about a hot tub, spa or sauna? Such plans may be beyond the budget in the short term but you should plan for future usage as well because a well-constructed deck should last for decades. Take the time to think this through now – It’s a classic ‘measure twice – cut once’ situation.

 Material choice – There are many beautiful timbers to choose from as well as steel, aluminium and the new composites. There are also some new bamboo products coming on to the market that offer excellent strength and durability. Your budget may be the determining factor here. For example, treated pine is less than half the cost of kwila.

Balustrading – If your deck is more than a metre above ground level, you must have a balustrade. Even if the drop is only 50 centimetres, you may want to consider using built-in perimeter seating to reduce risk.

Approvals – The bane of every homeowner’s life. Will you need to get your deck certified? Remember that certification serves one principal purpose – to ensure your future safety.

OK, that does with planning. Over the next few weeks we’ll cover everything in more detail from how to choose the right location, materials and finishes, right down to step by step construction details.

If you need more inspiration, come on over to our Decking Group.  If you’ve already got a great deck you’d like to show us, you can post your images and comments at Inspiration@OBN!

Have you thought about adding a deck to your home?  What information do you need to get your decision ‘over the line’?