Build a deck in nine easy steps

2016-10-05 06:00
PHOTO: sourced Gather all your tools before you start. You will need some screwdrivers, clamps, a spirit level, tape measure, string line, pegs, a spade, dust mask, goggles and gloves.

PHOTO: sourced Gather all your tools before you start. You will need some screwdrivers, clamps, a spirit level, tape measure, string line, pegs, a spade, dust mask, goggles and gloves.

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A DECK affords homeowners the opportunity to enjoy warm spring evenings, hot summer days and crisp winter mornings outdoors.

Gather all your tools before you start. You will need some screwdrivers, clamps, a spirit level, tape measure, string line, pegs, a spade, dust mask, goggles and gloves.

This is according to David Kemp, from Handyman Pretoria, who says with careful planning and attention to detail, homeowners can build a beautiful deck to share with family and friends.

He says homeowners will need some basic carpentry skills but beyond that, building a deck is much easier than one might think.

Kemp shares nine easy steps to build a deck…

• Plan the deck

The key to success is planning the deck out properly. First choose your location and then decide if you want a sunny or shaded spot.

Think about any features such as handrails (which are highly recommended for safety purposes).

Take note that the more complicated the deck is, the harder the job will be, so a flat deck will be much easier to create than a raised deck. Take care to match your plan to your skill level too.

Now draw your deck to-scale and include any features of your home like doors and windows. Allow access hatches for any drain covers or vents.

• Buy deck components

To build the framework, start by laying out the outer deck frame using the planks you bought for bearing.

Use your plan to map out what you will need for your deck. Measure the area and look online or call up your local home improvement store to find out how much wood you will need for your deck’s size and proportions. Don’t forget to factor in posts and supports.

It’s a good idea to buy your deck materials a week in advance to let them rest and adjust to the temperature and climate in your garden. Don’t forget, you’ll also need deck fabric and paving slabs for the foundation.

Assemble the tools

Gather your tools before you start. That way you won’t have to stop to find something. To build a deck you will need a handsaw, circular saw, cordless drill and drill bits, a hammer and nails or electric nail gun and chisels.

You also need some screwdrivers, clamps, a spirit level, tape measure, string line, pegs, a spade, dust mask, goggles and gloves.

Make sure all your tools are in good working order, that way you can get started knowing everything you need is at hand.

• Prepare the ground

Lay up to six boards at a time, predrilling your screw holes before you put the boards down.

The first thing you’ll need to do is dig out the ground to level it if it’s uneven. Once you have a decent and even surface, use pegs and string to map out where the deck will go. This will allow you to see where to lay your foundation.

It’s advisable to use decking fabric to cover the area, this will also ensure that there will be no weeds growing in the space.

Use concrete paving slabs and lay them out in a grid pattern to hold the fabric down, and create a solid foundation for your deck.

Use a spirit level to make sure your foundation has a subtle slope for drainage. Aim for a 10mm drop for every metre of decking.

• Build a framework

Now’s the time to build your framework. Start by laying out the outer deck frame using the planks you bought for bearing. Make sure the frame rests snug on the foundation.

Clamp and join the frame at each corner using 150mm screws. Keep measuring to make sure the corners are exactly square.

Your deck will last longer if you maintain it properly.

Next up, fit your intermediate bearers. Use screws to attach them to the main deck frame. There should be a space of no more than 500mm between them. Use your spirit level to make sure all your bearers are flat.

• Strengthen the frame

You should now have a lattice of supporting joists within your outer deck frame.

At this point, you might like to take short pieces of wood and attach them snugly to each corner between the joists, to give them extra strength and weight bearing properties.

• Lay the deck boards

Clear space in your garden to lay out your deck boards in the right pattern and shape before you actually cut them or put them on the frame. This one last check will ensure that you have everything and can fit it together the way you want. This step will also save you from making any mistakes.

Once you’re happy, cut the boards if needed, and you’re ready to go.

Lay up to six boards at a time, predrilling your screw holes before you put the boards down. Leave a gap of 5mm between each board for ventilation and expansion, which occurs in warm weather. Fit the ends of the boards first, then screw the board centres to the supporting joists.

• Add a handrail

Start by notching out your newel posts and positioning them in the right place around the deck. Next, measure your posts and mark where the handrails will be attached, this way you can double check that you have all the right pieces at the right length for the handrails.

Now attach your handrails to the newel posts and screw them firmly in place.

• Maintain the deck

Your deck will last longer if you maintain it properly. Most deck boards are already treated for weather proofing, you should check this before buying them.

Even so, it is still worth doing an annual check for splinters, worn areas, rotting wood or drainage problems. If you spot them early, most problems can be fixed easily.

Your deck will also benefit from a thorough wash once a year using a deck cleaning solution, followed by a treatment of deck oil for extra durability. - Property24.

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