Having an outdoor area is a fantastic addition to any home, especially if you have children who enjoy spending time outside.
However, it can be difficult to decorate an outdoor space in a unique way – this is where wooden decking can come in handy.
A beautiful wooden deck can add visual interest to your garden, as well as provide a place to entertain guests and family.
How to install a wooden deck
Installing a wooden deck on your own may sound difficult and time-consuming, but if you follow these simple hints and tips the process will go by like a breeze.
Before you start buying materials, be sure that you have a plan in mind and have spaced out the area where your deck will be placed. Make a simple drawing of the deck you have in mind, using the correct dimensions of the ground and the size of the deck you want.
Include steps in these dimensions if you feel that you need to raise your deck, and remember that raising your deck to one level will make installation easier. You will also need to think about the way in which your decking boards are going to be laid out: will they be facing in one direction or will you fix it down to make patterns? Having a clear plan beforehand makes the building process easier.
Avoid unsealed wood
One of the mistakes that first-time deck installers make is using unsealed wood. While sealed wood may cost more, it will last much longer and will not look worn, washed out and unattractive.
Unsealed wood is also prone to water absorption, meaning that if your deck is outside and uncovered, the boards will warp and become unstable after time in the rain. Your best option is to choose sealed wooden decking which is made fro harsh outdoor conditions and will not be easily damaged. Sealed wood is often kiln-dried to ensure maximum effectivity and water resistance.
Prepare the garden
Once you have chosen where you will be installing your deck, you will need to prepare the site ahead of time. This process includes using pegs to mark out the corners of your deck, marking the dimensions of the deck, clearing away all rocks and weeds and levelling the surface as much as possible.
If you have persistent weeds in the area, you should look into using weed killer spray on the site to prevent any growth in the future or using a weed barrier sheet to cover the site. If you have pets or small children, avoid using weed killing materials as often these are harmful to both. Rather be sure to do a thorough weeding of the area in the weeks before installation.
Choose your fasteners
You can choose from nails, screws, visible or invisible fastening options for your deck, it depends on the aesthetic you are looking for. Some fastening systems allow for a completely seamless look by attaching screws either from below or at an angle from the edge.
If you choose to use nails or screws, keep in mind that if you drive the nail or screw too far, you will mar the wood and it can be difficult to remove nailed board without damaging it. Whatever fastener you choose, make sure that they are rated for exterior use. They will be labelled as decking screws or decking nails.
Ensure sufficient ventilation
Prolonged exposure to moisture will result in rotting wood, which can be difficult and costly to replace. To prevent this, make sure that there is enough space when placing boards near structures such as the house, swimming pool and retaining walls to ensure water is drained properly.
There should also be gaps between the boards to accommodate expansion and contraction, a natural occurrence with wooden decking. Be sure to ask a professional about the correct spacing if you are unsure, and look for spacers in hardware stores that are the size you need. Decking boards should never be placed directly onto the ground or any surface aside from the substructure.
Apply a protective finish
The final step in building a deck is the protective finish. Decking boards need to have a protective finish no matter if they are sealed or unsealed. This finish can be as dark or as light as you like, with darker finishes suiting a more modern exterior.
If you are using treated lumber, you may have to wait several months after installing your deck to apply a finish, but the results will allow you to have a deck that lasts for generations. A finish is different to a varnish in that it will seal the wood from moisture rather than simply providing decorative charm. You will need to apply a finish periodically, such as every two to three years to maintain this moisture seal.