Once you have decided to have a deck built - or maybe even build it yourself, then you will have to make choices between the various decking materials available.
The choice of decking materials will not start and end with the deckboards, but also extend into the areas of fastenings, balustrades, lights, deck frame, supports and stair types. Just to name a few!
Don't simply specify ' a deck'! Do the research, ask the questions and make sure you understand the answers you get about choices of decking materials.
- Timber Decking, will lead you to further decide upon which type of timber to use for you deck. The basic choice of materials comes down to either softwood decking or hardwood decking. It is not just the appearance that should sway you, but also the varying properties of each type of softwood and hardwood.
- Composite Decking, often referred to as plastic decking. There should be a distinction between plastic and composite decking materials. Composite decking uses recycled plastic in the manufacturing process, and also recycled wood sawdust. There are different types of composite decking, which we will explain in detail.
- Plastic Decking, is normally made from vinyl - such as is used extensively in the construction industry for fascias, windows and increasingly, doors. Vinyl decking has many advantageous properties, and is often specified for decking around caravan homes - where timber decking is seen as a possible fire risk!
Balustrades, may involve another choice of materials. There are timber, aluminium, and glass options available. If your deck is over a certain height, then balustrades will be essential and will need to conform to building regulations in respect of the safety aspects.
Sub Frame Materials. The sub deck is often constructed from softwood constructional timbers. These will have been treated against rot and infestation, and should be suitable for most types of decking, with the possible exception of vinyl decks, which are often constructed on a galvanised steel frame. Timber joists will have varying span capabilities and quality stamps. In the Uk, the grading is usually down to C16 and C24 grades. Both are suitable, and can be mixed. They are often supplied in mixed grades. A higher cost is involved when stipulating C24 only timbers.
Fixings, of one sort or another will be required in holding the sub-frame materials together, and subsequently for fastening your deckboards to that sub-frame. The choice of bolts for the sub-frame, is usually centred around galvanised M12mm bolts. There are other fixings available, being of the 'screw-through' type, and having a short but robust thread, and long plain shank. This will ensure a tight joint between deck joist and upright support timbers.
Deckboards can either be screwed or nailed to the sub-deck. Another option, is the use of 'invisible' clip fixings. There are several types available, and they can be used with either plain or rebated deckboards. The choice of materials is extended further, with the option of galvanised or stainless steel screws and nails!
Lighting and Irrigation. Often these are added as an afterthought with frustrating consequences. A simple extension hose or power point laid under the deck to the front edge, will often be desirable, and is much easier to install at the early stages. The choice of lighting materials, needs care. We will give some pointers on things that will sway you one way or another - we hope!
Stains and Oils. Just when you thought your project was finished, then there will be the choice of 'treatment' to ensure that your deck will properly stand up to the vagaries of all weather conditions for many years to come. Branded stains and oils are available, and we will take you through the choices that you will need to make with your own particular type of decking surface.
Hopefully this small checklist of decking materials available for your project will arm you, at least, with some questions to ask yourself - or your proposed deck builder.