When it comes to getting the most out of your outdoor space, nothing beats a quality deck. Whether it’s for outdoor entertaining, around the swimming pool or just putting your feet up and relaxing, a quality deck is a great addition to any backyard.
However building a deck is a major project that involves some careful planning. Making the wrong choices can increase the cost and complexity of construction and lead to ongoing costs for repairs and maintenance.
So before you start building your dream outdoor deck, we have 5 important points for you to consider.
- What will the Deck be used for?
First thing you need to do is think about what the deck will primarily be used for. How you intend to use the deck will affect a range of factors including the material, the design, the method of construction and the maintenance requirements.
Some common uses for an outdoor deck include:
- Home verandah or balcony
- Outdoor entertaining area
- Outdoor kitchen/barbecue area
- Surrounding a swimming pool or spa
- Commercial decking for a restaurant or cafe
- Outdoor area for an entertainment venue
The primary use of the deck should be taken into consideration so you can best tailor the deck’s design to its intended purpose. For example, a deck around a swimming pool will have to deal with a lot of moisture, exposure to salt or pool chemicals and maybe some heavy foot traffic if children are regularly running and jumping on it. Therefore, you will need to look at decking materials that are extremely durable, non-slip and water and chemical resistant.
If your deck is for a home patio or entertaining area, then aesthetics may be your primary consideration. In that case you may want to look at premium timber options like merbau, jarrah or iron bark. These options will be a bit more expensive, but they offer unsurpassed beauty in terms of timber colour and grain.
- Do you need a Permit?
Before starting on any decking project, you should find out if you need a building permit. Different states and cities will have different regulations, so it’s important to contact your local council to find out what regulations are applicable to your area. Regulations may vary regarding the size, height, materials and construction method. Permit requirements can also change depending on whether you’re replacing an old deck or building a new one.
In Victoria, you require a permit for building or replacing an attached or detached deck, regardless of size. In New South Wales, on the other hand, you may not require permit approval provided that the deck is smaller than 25m² and meets the relevant building standards.
A professional deck builder will be able to handle all the permit requirements on your behalf. However, if you decide to pursue a DIY decking project, you will need to deal with the council yourself.
- What’s your Budget?
Before starting any decking project it’s essential to work out your budget. Like any construction or renovation project, if you’re not carefully managing your budget the costs can quickly get away from you. There are several factors that will affect your budget including materials, the size of the deck, labour costs, the complexity of the design, site preparation and more.
Once you know how much you have to spend, you start talking to decking contractors to see what options you have within your budget.
- What will your Deck be made from?
There are plenty of decking materials to choose from including treated pine, softwoods, hardwoods, native and imported timber, plastic-capped decking boards and composite materials. Each will have a different profile in terms of performance, durability, longevity, maintenance and cost.
Besides your budget, your choice of decking material can be influenced by a range of factors including maintenance, durability, lifespan, aesthetics, environmental considerations and cost.
When considering decking materials, you should carefully think about what will be the most important for your deck. If you’re concerned about minimising maintenance, then composite decking might be the best option since you don’t have to worry about staining or oiling the decking boards. If you want a deck that looks great, then nothing beats premium hardwoods like jarrah or merbau.
It’s important to do your research into each of the available decking materials to ensure you choose a material that suits your needs and your budget.
- Finding a Contactor
Selecting a contractor to handle your decking project is an important job. Labour will account for a significant portion of the cost of your deck, and labour costs can vary widely between contractors. You should try to get at least three written quotes from different contactors.
Together with the quotes, you should also ask the contractors for references and pictures of their previous decking jobs. An experienced and reliable contractor should be eager to show off their other work. Be wary of any builders that won’t provide these things.
It’s also worth doing a little bit of online research on your contractors. Look for independent online reviews and customer testimonials. A good contractor should have a trail of positive reviews available online.
Remember, when it comes to choosing a builder, choosing the cheapest quote isn’t always the best option. A noticeably cheaper quote could mean subpar materials and poor quality workmanship, and that will cost you in the long run.
A good outdoor deck can be expected to enhance your lifestyle while standing the test of time. So, before starting any decking project it’s essential that you think about what kind of deck you want and do your research so the final product suits your home and your lifestyle.