The Ultimate Guide on How to do Decking

Decking can transform a garden area and provide a suitable setting for tables, chairs and other forms of garden furniture. This form of garden design has grown in popularity in recent years and the fact is that decking is now available in a wide variety of colours and styles. It is also a relatively simple job that can be undertaken by any reasonably competent individual. Below we outline the relevant steps to help you create the decking that you desire.

Important note-Safety First

As with any form of garden work involving tools, including power tools, the correct protective wear is imperative. This should include garden gloves and protective eyewear as well as a sturdy pair of shoes or boots.

Tools that will generally be required include:

Lump hammer
Marking out posts
A form of saw, whether power saw or standard hand saw
A mitre saw
Screwdriver or handheld drill with screw attachments

Site preparation

This is the most important step of the whole process of creating a decked area. The preparation involves the excavation and clearance of the area and then preparing the area to ensure no problems when the decking is completed.

The first step is to mark out the area that the decking will be covering. This is usually marked out with wooden posts and twine between the posts to mark out the area. To make things easier for yourself, a tip in terms of size is to work out the exact size to accommodate whole decking planks including gaps, thereby reducing the need to cut a whole length of board.

Note: When digging beware of any potential issues with underground cabling or pipework.

Once the area has been marked out, remove the top layer of turf/soil, down to about 2 inches in depth, around the whole area, removing any loose stones and bricks or any form of sharp objects whilst excavating. Once completed, flatten the area with a thumper, heavy roller or the back of a spade to create an even flat area.

To reduce weed growth place a weed suppressant layer of fabric across the whole area.

The next step is to add pea gravel or slabs, in fact whatever your choice of base is, onto the area, which will form the base underneath the decking.

Sub frame

The subframe is a critical element and needs to be secure. There are in essence two options.

You can either attach the subframe to a building to provide stability or if the decking area is away from any such potential anchor point like a building, then use posts secured in the ground with concrete. Metposts are useful for this form of stable base building.

Start by adding the posts in the corners of the area. Dependent on the overall size of the decking, if lengths are going to run more than three metres or more, than an additional anchor point/post should be added to provide additional stability.

Once the main anchor points/posts have been added and are secure, the rest of the base can be added. Using either nails or screws, the main joists that run between the anchor points are attached starting with the external outside main joists and then continue to add the joists across the whole of the base. Space the joists with no more than approx 400 mm gaps, to ensure stability.

Once the main joists have been added, its time to reinforce the base with the addition of noggings, which are in essence support struts that are place in the gap between the joists for extra strength. Place these noggings along each gap between the joists at approx every 400 mm to create a box style base design.

Assembling the decking boards/planks

Now that the main frame is completed and stable, its time to add the decking boards. The way these are added depends on the design you want to incorporate. Traditionally decking planks are added in two configurations, either square on, at 90 degree’s or at 45 degrees, going from corner to corner.

Whichever style you decide, either start at one corner or at the start of the subframe and work your way down. Ideally use screws rather than nails as this then provides the ability to remove and adjust the decking boards if required without damaging the planks themselves as nail would do. Use rust resistant screws approx 1 inch longer then the depth of the decking board to provide durability. Cut the relevant board to size and then screw the boards directly onto the subframe.

Ensure that the screws do not protrude from the decking board as they will be a trip hazard.

Finishing touches

Once the decking boards have been laid, to give your decking a nice professional finish, place decking boards around the edge of the decking with mitred corners butting up together.

Add the edging boards to the side of the decking to complete the job.

The decking area should now be complete and all that is required in terms of maintenance is to give it a coat of wood preserver every year to bring out its natural colour and preserve the decking over the long term.