The sun is out, the weather is warming up and it is officially deck building season!
There is no better way to enjoy your outdoor space than on a recycled timber deck. A deck is an investment into the value of your property and your lifestyle and you want it to be looking great in 15 years. It’s worth spending a little extra now to do it properly the first time, if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing right!
Thor’s Hammer has been supplying decking timber for over 20 years. Here are some of our top tips to installing a deck that will last:
1. Use well seasoned timber that has a low moisture content and lay the boards with the correct gap to allow drainage.
Unfortunately some decking is supplied unseasoned and will shrink after laying (this was more common in the past), while other mills are supplying well seasoned boards which are stable. Some decking contractors are used to allowing for shrinkage and lay the boards too close together.
The result? Your deck will look fantastic when it is installed but within a few years it will look like the deck in the below photo. There has been no mechanical damage, just lack of drainage causing expansion of the boards and deterioration.
2. Use an experienced installer who has a proven track record and a reputation to uphold. Unfortunately there are some dodgy deck builders out there.
3. If you are installing yourself galvanized screws can be a better option than stainless.
We have seen a lot of decks screwed down with stainless where the heads of the screws start to come off after a year or two. The timber expands in the rain and although it doesn’t rust, stainless just doesn’t have the same strength as hi-tensile steel. If you do use stainless go for an extra heavy gauge screw.
If nailing your deck, don’t punch the heads. They should be just flush with the surface of the timber. Same goes for countersinking screws. Going deeper just creates a spot for moisture to sit.
4. Think about building a covered deck.
Canberra has very high UV and hot, dry summers and wet cold winters. This is pretty hard on exposed timbers. Covering your deck could save a lot of maintenance and also create an outdoor area that is usable for more of the year.
5. Use ethically sourced timber.
Watch out for rainforest timbers like Merbau and Kwila because a lot of that timber has been illegally logged out of a rainforest somewhere in Java. Rainforest logging in South-East Asia is a massive environmental issue both for deforestation and for habitat destruction of rainforest animals. Go for Australian timbers, or even better go for recycled!
If these illegally logged rainforest timbers are not used there will be no demand. If there is no demand there is no supply and the rainforests will not be logged, simple!
6. Stay away from water based finishes.
We have seen them trap moisture in the decking boards and cause accelerated decay and a loss of structural strength in the timber. An oil based finish will help the timber repel moisture but still allow the timber to breathe.
7. Check the forums online to get an idea of other people’s experiences.
If you can sift through the bs there is good info on forums like whirpool.net.au, forum.homeone.com.au or renovateforum.com
The Wood Solutions site also has good info, if a bit dry and technical. They have a Domestic Timber Deck Design guide at www.woodsolutions.com.au/Applications-Products/Decking
Recycled timbers can make a great decking board. They are well seasoned and will not shrink, and our Australian hardwoods are dense and durable.
Thor’s Hammer makes two main kinds of decking boards from salvaged hardwood roof timbers. We start by sawing the 100x50 rafters in half to make 100x22mm boards.
For a rustic decking board, we then wire brush the old rough sawn face. This makes a dark, old looking board with heaps of character. Or we can dress the timber and pencil round the edges to make a clean dressed 85x18mm board.
Both of these options are available in either our dense Mixed Red species (mainly North Coast Mahogany, Ironbark, Turpentine & Brushbox), or dense Mixed Browns (mainly Tallowwood, Blackbutt, Stringybark & Silvertop Ash).
If you would like to discuss your decking requirements come into our new premises at 10 Mildura St, Griffith or contact us below.