Planning a Deck
Thanks to Decking ideas Ltd. for providing photographs on this page of some of their constructions.
Decks are probably more suited to DIY than patios but your skills need to extend quite a bit further than putting up shelves. If any part of the deck is more than 60 cm above ground level, then you need to at least consult a builder if not call in the professionals to do it all.
A deck consists of a substantial sub-frame topped with hardwood or softwood decking boards. Unlike patios, even "ground-level" decks are raised at least 6 inches due to the sub-frame.
Decks can be relatively easy to construct on different levels as supporting posts are dug-in and cemented in place with the deck itself fastened to these above ground. There isn't too much digging to do and ground levelling is usually unnecessary. If you do this, make sure that each level of deck gives you a useful and useable area.
Softwood boards - These should be pressure treated with a preservative (tannalised) and ought to come with a 10 - 15 year guarantee. Do not use untreated timber, even if a preservative is painted on, it won't get deep enough into the wood.
Once built the deck can be stained almost any colour. Don't go too mad though, bright colours, jaunty music and speeded up action may make good television, but living with bright pinks and yellows long term is a different prospect. Any stain you paint on the deck is best regarded as cosmetic, it will certainly help preserve the wood, but it's no substitute for tannalised timber. You will also need to re-apply any cosmetic stains every so often as it will fade and wear off particularly in heavily trafficked areas.
Softwood will usually be cheaper than the hardwood alternative, though there is often surprisingly little difference in overall price due to the cost of the sub-frame and labour which are the same whatever boards are laid on top.
Hardwood boards - These do not need preserving in the way that softwoods do, though open end-grain should be sealed where cut. They are frequently darker in colour than softwood. Anyone even considering applying a coloured stain to a hardwood deck should be forced to have their whole house "made over" by over-enthusiastic publicity seeking interior designers on acid. (In my humble opinion). The finish of hardwood boards is very clean and high quality, they are the equivalent of the highest quality patio slabs.
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