For some, the garden is as much of a room as any which might be in the house. Depending on the weather we can use our gardens for al fresco eating, sunbathing, for children to play as well as the usual gardening. Decking can make a somewhat unusable space into the equivalent of another room and it isn't nearly as difficult as you might imagine.
When deciding on where to place your decking it is important to bear in mind a few factors. Will you use your decking as a way to get from one place to another, will it simply be a patio outside your door or will it be an eating area at the end of the garden? Take into account where the sun will be during the day and where the darker parts of the garden are. Decking can get slippery, so if it is likely to get very damp or icy often, then it may wise to consider laying it elsewhere.
- Measure the area and workout how many supports and decking boards you will need.
- Clearing the ground: be sure to clear the whole area of weeds and grass. The last thing you need is weeds growing up between your new deck. Lay down a black plastic sheet to prevent the weeds from growing back.
- Lay out the supports in a raft style, by screwing them together and fixing either to the house or to posts in the ground. Lay the supports no more than 400mm apart. If the soil is level it may not be necessary to attach the raft to anything but simply lay it on to concrete blocks to keep it elevated. Timber should never come into contact with the ground as it will rot. Check to ensure it is perfectly level or slightly angled away from the house.
- Lay the deck boards at right angles to the supports with a 6mm gap between each one and at the ends if they are butted up against the house. The boards will shrink and expand in the sun.
- It is best to lay the boards out to start with before screwing them into place. Try to stagger the joins and keep the ends long. You can trim them all off at the end. Test the decking to see if any sink under your weight. If this does happen, more supports need to be added.
- Pre-drilling pilot holes for the screws is advisable as this will prevent the boards from splitting.
- Use galvanised or stainless steel screws to prevent the boards from becoming discoloured and screw them into the supports. Countersink the screws to keep them below the level of the boards.
- Treat cut edges of the boards with preservative to keep the wood from rotting.
- Once laid, you can consider whether you would like to paint or varnish your boards. It isn't usually required as the boards will weather over time. If you choose to do so, bear in mind that maintenance will be required regularly to sand and re-apply any varnish.
Bear in mind that all decking should be at least 150mm below the damp proof course and that a slight slope away from the house is advisable to prevent any water back-up.
So for a more or less maintenance free addition to the garden you cannot get better than decking. It is worth the extra effort and always ensures that the garden looks neat and tidy regardless of the weather.