The use of timber decking to create garden features is becoming one of the most popular ways people change their gardens.
Like a patio, timber decks can be used as an extension of an indoor room - that you can use and access directly from the property or be a separate space creating a garden room away from the main house.
Timber decks can be used in the same way a patio or paving to provide areas for play or relaxation. They can be built almost anywhere in the garden and can give a firm base for tables and chairs where previously there was soft, or perhaps soggy, ground. Decks can be in the sun or shade and be built on level or sloping ground. They can be built on one or more levels. They can have pergolas for climbing plants and can have balustrading added on one or more sides.
A timber deck can also be used as a safe play area for children - or indeed, a safe area for adults to socialise in. You can have a built in a bar-b-q and have the patio as a dining area or you can spread out your garden furniture and use it as a place to sit and soak up the sun. Decks can be combined with traditional patio paving to create something a little different. Surrounding areas may be higher or lower depending upon the slope of the ground and each separate area could be sectioned off with dwarf walls or planters. Creating planters to divide areas of a more ambitious deck can give the opportunity, with judicious planting, to develop screened areas for additional privacy or to add interest. Decks and/or pergolas can also be connected to a building or be free standing. You can make archways or walkways. The possibilities for making your decking attractive feature of your garden are only limited by your own imagination.
As with any home project, planning is the key. Plan your deck carefully. Decide on the location and what you intend to use your deck for. You must decide whether you want a sunny or shaded location and whether privacy is important. If your deck is in permanent shade could it could be affected by damp and consequent algae growth. Take into account the views of others and always talk to your neighbours about your plans. Ensure that any decking feature will not be too big and overwhelm your garden.
Remember - large or raised decks may require planning permission.
Draw your plan out on paper and if you find this hard to visualise, you can buy a can of marking out spray from your local merchant and mark out your proposed deck directly on the ground.
Take into account the size of your deck boards and allow a gap between them for expansion and contraction. You cannot expect to make up a bearer frame and the deck boards to fit with the required gaps between them, without having to reduce the width of boards to fit unless you have carefully planned.
Make sure when buying the materials for the deck that you or your contractor purchase pre-treated timber for resistance to rot and insect attack. Also buy fluted deck boards which will help reduce slip and aid rainwater drain-off.
Remember - Decking timbers will expand and contract depending upon ambient conditions.
When the weather is very hot and dry, they will shrink or if the weather is damp, they may swell. Make sure that you purchase your timbers at least a week or so before you plan to construct your deck. This will allow the timber to acclimatise and allow the boards to adjust to the atmosphere. As with all building projects, store your materials close to where they will be used and cover them to protect them from the worst of the weather. Do not store your timber directly on the ground. Always use timber bearers underneath and make them level.
As has been said, all of your decking components must be treated with a preservative treatment. However, when you cut any of these, the cut surface must be treated with preservative to ensure that the integrity of the treatment is maintained.
You will only need basic carpentry skills to build a simple deck. However, more advanced projects will require greater planning and carpentry skills. If in doubt- seek advice from your local professionals.