DIY Decking: What Are The Options?

Homeowners often aspire to create an outdoor space for their homes. With a minimal budget, you can significantly improve the value, liveability, and visual appeal of your home by building it yourself. Aside from the fact that your home will look fantastic, you will also have acquired a new skill.

However, before you begin the actual construction process of a DIY deck, you should research and gain knowledge of a number of things. You can tackle your own backyard deck, but here’s what you need to know.

DIY Decking Kit As An Option

One approach is to purchase a DIY decking kit to quick-start you along with your DIY approach.

Compared to hiring a professional builder, decking kits have a number of advantages. A deck kit will take care of all the engineering calculations along with calculating the floor load, the width of your joists and bearers, and any other concerns you may have when building a new structure. The design process for decking kits includes all of these considerations, so you do not need to spend a lot of time designing and planning the substructure for your deck.

With kits, you can easily establish what your budget is without having to make a list of materials and request an itemised quotation from a builder.

Additionally, decking kits include every item you need to construct your deck, from the beams, bearers and posts to brackets, screws, fasteners, bolts, and fastener kits, so the process is easy and convenient.

In comparison with traditional methods of deck building, DIY decking kits offer great value for money and can save a lot of time.

Things To Check Before Getting Started On A DIY Deck

Even for someone who attempts the odd DIY project, putting together a deck is still a fairly involved process. Once you make the decision to add a deck to your home, there are a lot of things to think about.

  • Do you need to submit an application to the shire or local council before starting anything? This is especially important if you live in a bushfire prone area or you intent to build the deck higher than 1 meter high. Strata rules and the distance from the boundary are other things to consider too.
  • Is a deck going to be built on top of a concrete slab?
  • What is the fire rating (BAL) of your area?
  • Have you got the space for it?
  • What is the best type of sub-frame to use?
  • What material amounts will be needed?
  • What fixing type will you use?

Decking material options

Decks usually have treated pine substructures, and sometimes steel ones. In DIY projects, steel is usually used for sites that require large spans or are high up, so it is not so common.

Your main decision will be the choice of decking boards. Many kits include a standardised option for decking boards, but some companies will let you pick whatever wood you prefer and charge you based on that.

There are pros and cons to different types of decking materials. There are a number of softwoods available to you, including treated pine. Alternatively, you can use imported hardwoods like merbau or kapur, and Australian hardwoods like spotted gum, blackbutt or ironbark.

In general, softwood decking is the least expensive option, as well as being the easiest to work with. Since softwood decking can be stained almost any color, it works in most applications but it won’t last as long as hardwood decking.

Most imported hardwoods have excellent properties and are highly resistant to rot and water. Along with their beautiful colors, this is what makes them so popular.

The most important thing to watch out for when installing merbau is tannin bleed. If your timber is not effectively washed and stained before installation, this can stain driveways and pavers.

Various species, grains, and colors of hardwood can be found in Australia. The colors on some of them make a beautiful deck and have an appealing appearance. The price generally reflects the quality of Australian hardwoods, which perform very well as well.

Everything You Need Comes In A DIY Decking Kit

There is a huge variety of DIY decking kits available to fit a range of projects and budgets. You can choose from ready-made stock kits or a personalised, custom-built one, which allows you to design a complete deck package based on your desired location, size, and style.

Decking kits typically include framing, fasteners, screws, and either composite decking in many styles, colours, and properties, or wood or aluminum decking. Your deck needs to be both beautiful and functional as well as durable enough to hold up to the great outdoors for many years.

Full instructions are usually provided with the kits, and sometimes additional phone and email support as well. This can be of great assistance in the construction process if something goes wrong or some of the instructions just don’t make sense. 

There are a bunch of companies that have decking kits to suit your budget and material choice. Of course, there is a bit to the process. Working from the surface downwards, you have your decking surface, your decking fixing, and then the joists the decking fixes to. These make up the three areas a good decking kit needs to provide for.

What is good about the kit approach though, is that they generally give you all the components and advice on how to use those components, without you having to do all the research and sourcing of materials from scratch.

This can make the process much easier. Some kit sellers provide very detailed information that will allow someone without any prior knowledge of how to build a deck can purchase the decking kit and then get started on their own decking project without DIY skills or previous experience.

Sometimes the kits you purchase will assume you will be able to prepare some of the infrastructures yourself before applying the material that comes with the kit. For example, the kit may contain just the surface material (e.g. composite or wood decking) with the assumption that you will prepare the joists for it to all go on before you proceed with using the kit.

Often you will find that you purchase a kit based on the size of decking it will provide. This size specification determines the content in the decking kit and all the pre-cut pieces that will suit that size (e.g. 2.4mx2.4m or 2.4mx9.6m).

It is generally possible to install your own deck if you have some basic tools and access to the right know-how.

Decking kit companies often ask you to send them your measurements, so that they can create an engineered drawing, as well as an estimate for the cost of the decking kit.

Some decking kits are designed to be modular and easy to remove at a later date.

Cost Of DIY Decking Kits

Costs vary greatly for DIY decking kits, depending on the materials and kit you choose.

Bunnings and other large hardware chains sell decking kits, which are pre-made tiles that you can simply install.

A decking kit from a timber merchant would likely be appropriate if you are looking to make something a little more permanent.

DIY decking kits are available from many timber companies across Australia. Additionally, some companies have online tools and calculators that can help you create a matching kit and give you an idea of how much it will cost.

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