Last Updated Mar 6, 2012 · Written by Craig Gibson
This may seem pretty obvious but measuring the designated area and sketching this out is a great start to make your decking project a reality. You also need to decide how your decking is going to integrate with the structure and aesthetics of your existing home. It may serve as an extension of your living areas or be a standalone feature surrounding your pool or spa for example. Having a budget to work from is also a crucial part of the planning process. The size of your deck and materials used will ultimately determine the cost of your structure, with exotic hardwood timbers typically adding to the cost.
You may have thought that timber is the only decking material out there, but times have changed and we have technology to thank for a range of more durable alternatives. While hardwoods are undeniably tough and able to withstand the elements composite materials are increasingly finding favour with homeowners for their low maintenance requirements. If you are going for natural timber ensure it is the right structural grade for decking, otherwise you may encounter safety and/or durability issues.
Decking is governed by Australian Standards and needs to meet the minimum requirements contained in these specifications. Additionally local councils will have their own guidelines and requirements, which any reputable installer should be aware of. Points to consider from a safety perspective include the type and quality of the timber/material and the actual support structure – which in some cases needs to be constructed from stainless steel.
Maintenance is a major issue for any deck, though natural timber typically requires slightly more attention than a composite material. Maintenance schedules will depend on the timber specified and the amount of exposure your deck experiences. Expect to oil, paint or seal your surface annually, though softwoods may need to be retreated more often. Alternatively consider the convenience of a pergola or shade cover to protect you and your precious decking from the elements.