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FAQs

Timber decks are marvellously flexible structures that can be designed and built to suit you, your family and the property you live in. They make great additions to homes of all ages and are superb for businesses like pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants that want to create an attractive outdoor room for their customers to enjoy.

Decks by Design has put together some answers to the questions which are asked most frequently.

If your query isn’t covered then please call us and we will endevour to answer over the phone.

Does Decks by Design have insurance?

Decks by Design of course has insurance. Our company not only has Public Liability, all our employees are covered under our workers compensation Policy. Also, all jobs over $25,000 must have Home Owners Warranty unless of course the owner is the builder on the job or its commercial works. If at any time you would like a copy of our policy before undertaking work, you are more than welcome. In the case of any Sub-contractors being used, Decks by Design always view their Certificate of Currency.

Can I use a secret nailing system?

Secret nailing/screwing systems are the ultimate fininshing when it comes to quality, we use and sell what we believe to be the best on the market, LIFESTYLE DECKING.

 

Lifestyle DeckingWhat is Lifestyle Decking?

Lifestyle Decking is a natural hardwood decking system which is secretly fixed to the joist with a proprietary concealed fixing clip that locates in a groove machined on the edge of the decking board. It also features a gently domed top surface to overcome cupping and increase comfort.

Benefits

  • The subtle beauty of Lifestyle Decking is a way of contributing a point of difference to a project by adding a ‘WOW’ factor to the traditionally humble deck.
  • Decking is now elevated to the status of internal flooring, reducing the transition from the indoor to outdoor living areas and in many cases becoming the focal point of relaxation.
  • The nail-free finish eliminates the risk of injury to bare feet by protruding nails therefore offering a significant health and safety advantage.
  • By having a domed top surface, the whole appearance of the deck is softened, inviting the users to kick off their shoes and enjoy the feel.
Will I be hurting the environment if I use timber?

Not at all! The sort of wood used in timber decking comes from responsible producers who insist on proper management of their resources. This involves the conservation of forests through the use of sustainable forest management techniques and renewal through re-planting schemes. Timber is the only mainstream construction material that originates from a renewable resource and, as a result of the policies mentioned above the amount of productive forest in Australia (from where most decking timber comes) is increasing every year.

Will a deck support a spa or Pergola?

Yes, a deck can be designed to support almost anything you want to put on it. Spas have become very popular but when full weigh several tonnes. It is vital that the decking structure is purpose designed by a structural engineer and appropriate stress graded timber used. For decks that are intended to carry loads like this we recommend talking to a structual engineer.

Can I personalise my deck?

Yes – timber decks can be customised to your own style and decorative taste. The choice of additional design features – balustrades, pergolas, trellises, steps and so on – is almost infinite. The nice thing about timber decking is that it can be extended, or another level or a feature can be added in the future to enhance your enjoyment.

How do I keep my deck looking good?

New decks should be sealed straight after construction, although certain species of decking have a high content of tanon (sap), these should be left a period of 6 to 8 weeks depending on the local enviroment, oiling or staining at this time will ensure maxium protection from the elements. Remember no two decking boards are the same, in colour and in composition, so staining and protecting your deck through regular maintenance will keep your new deck looking new and even in colour, this first coat of decking oil should last for about 4-8 months (depending on the product applied) before another oil is required, the second oil will penetrate much further into the grain than the first application and will last up to 12 months and even more depending on the quality of the oil. As for older decks, these benefit from regular brushing with a good stiff broom on a frequent basis throughout the year. Once a year, in Spring or Autumn, we recommend giving your deck a more thorough cleaning using a pressure spray or a purpose made product like Feast Watson Deck clean which is formulated to remove grease and discolouration and restore the look of the wood. Keeping the deck surface clean in this way not only keeps it looking like new it also reduces the conditions that cause any surface to be slippery when wet. Unless a deck is painted with a stain, the original colour of the timber used will fade gradually when exposed to the elements. Whether your deck is made from a deeply coloured hardwood or the more mellow hues of a softwood species it will fade over time to a pleasant grey . Timber is a natural product and as your deck timbers weather, small cracks are likely to appear on the surface of the boards. These are caused by the intermittent wetting and drying of the wood and are part of the character of wood. They have no structural effect whatsoever. This natural ageing process can be slowed by the annual use of a clear water repellent coating. Resin is coming out of the timber? Some types of timber contain a resin that may exude from the surface of the timber in hot weather and create rings of crusty white powder around knots in the timber. This resin is not at all harmful and can be removed from the surface of the timber with a stiff brush. It is unlikely that resin will continue to exude after the deck has been through its first summer.

All Deck clean products, Oils, Stains and applicators are readily available through Decks By Design and at dicounted rates for our members.

 

*Although Decks by Design recommends differing application methods than that of the manufacturer, this by no means should go against that of what is recommended by the individual product application. Each deck is entirely different, talk to Decks by Design today about what we can recommend for you.

Eg; we recommend oiling your deck straight away if you intend to BBQ on it within the 6-8 weeks prior to first oil recommended by approved products. this will prevent staining by oil and grease.

When should decks have a balustrade?

Balustrades (or parapets) on decks can serve several functions, ranging from simple decorative boundaries to full safety barriers. Even a small change of level can be a hazard, particularly for elderly or infirm users. Unless the deck surface is flush with the surrounding ground level, a parapet or edge protection detail should be incorporated.

For very low-level structures, this may take the form of a simple decorative rail, a trellis panel, a raised planter box, a bench or seat, etc. The height of the parapet depends on how far the deck surface is off the ground: For ‘high-level’ decks over 1000mm high – parapet height should be 1000mm Where parapets act as safety barriers, they should be designed and constructed to meet the A.S building regulations.

What fixings do you recommend?

Fixings used out of doors should be corrosion resistant to prevent rusting and weakness of the structure in subsequent years. Nails or screws can be used for fixing – Fixing points at the ends of boards should be pre-drilled to prevent splitting. All screw points in hardwood deck boards should be pre-drilled 2mm oversize and countersunk before fixing. Bolts, joist hangers and concealed deck clips should also be made of similar rust resistant metal.

Will grooved deckboards perform better than plain ones in preventing slipperiness?

By far the majority of timber decks, boardwalks and piers built around the world are surfaced with plain timber boards. Whilst grooved deck boards are often marketed as “anti-slip” there is no evidence to suggest that they perform any better or worse than plain decking. Choice of deck board style is therefore a matter of personal preference.

A fall of around 1:100 should be built into some decks to help the surface drain and prevent standing water. Grooved deck boards were actually designed to aid water drainage and as such should be laid in the direction of the fall away from any adjoining property.

Where there is a higher than normal requirement to prevent the risk of slipperiness, for example on ramps, stairs, bridges or on public/commercial installations then deck boards with built-in abrasive strips can be used.

What’s the difference between hardwood and softwood?

Hardwood and softwood are broad biological terms used to describe species of wood. The terms have nothing to do with the physical hardness of the wood. Hardwoods come from broadleaved trees and softwood species from coniferous, evergreen trees.

There is a wide range of species of wood within each category that are highly suitable for decking. The important factor for wood used out of doors is that it is durable enough to resist fungal decay. This means using a hardwood classified as naturally durable (some are not) or a softwood given extended durability through pressure treatment.

Over 90% of all decks are made from suitable pressure treated softwoods because of their availability, ease of working and cost effectiveness. Hardwoods come in a range of attractive colours. They tend to be more expensive and require more care to work with than softwoods.

Always use timber from sustainable forest sources.

A timber deck should provide years and years of pleasure. That’s because naturally durable timber species or rot proof pressure-preserved wood is used in their construction. If the deck has been built using the correct materials and good building practices then it will last almost indefinitely if properly looked after. In fact, timber that conforms to the Australian Standards comes with a seven year statutary warranty.

The key factor in preventing slipperiness is to ensure that the deck surface is kept clean and surface deposits such as mildew, algae and fine mosses are kept at bay for it is these deposits that cause slipperiness on any surface, even stone flags, in wet weather.

Our recommendation is to give decked surfaces a frequent brush with a stiff broom and to give them a thorough clean once a year in spring or autumn using either a power spray washer or a proprietary deck cleaning product, then a sealer of some variety. New decks if being used straight away should be oiled to avoid grease and oil spatter from BBQ’s, although you will need to re-oil within the next 4-8 months as the product will not penetrate as much as leaving the deck for the desired and recommended 6-8 weeks. Please review each product before use.

Many companies produce a range of deck cleaning, maintenance and decorative products to help keep decks looking good, you will find them in your local hardware or paint supplier.

Do decks need planning permission?

Timber decks differ from conventional patios and terraces most significantly in their elevation and general height of construction.

For all but the simplest, low-level garden deck, property owners should satisfy themselves that planning regulations do not apply to their proposed structure.

In addition to contacting the Local Authority, we strongly recommend that you talk to all your neighbours about your plans. Neighbour objections are the most usual reason for planning refusal or enforcement notices after completion. Local Authorities can insist that structures are dismantled and removed where consent should have been obtained, but was not. Decks by Design accept no responsibility for owners not acquiring relevant approvals.

How Much Maintenance is Required?

The degree of maintenance required depends on the deck specification. Timber with a good quality stain will resist decay almost indefinitely and can be expected to last in excess of 25 years. A water repellent coating, may be used to improve deck performance by helping to reduce cracking. If used, water repellents should be applied every other year, preferably at the end of a dry summer. It is now possible to specify decking timbers that include water repellents as part of the pressure pre-treatment process. Decorative stains will also need to be refreshed periodically to maintain their appearance – usually depending on location, amount of sun received and general wear and tear. Whether smooth faced, grooved or ribbed decking boards are preferred, it is important that the deck surface is kept clean by regular brushing with a stiff bristle brush to remove dirt, algae and dead leaves which could make the deck slippery in the wet. At least once a year – preferably in spring – give your deck a thorough brush or spray cleaning using a proprietary cleaner to lift any stubborn stains. Deck-care products such as water repellents, stains, deck cleaners, and end seal preservatives are all available readily direct from Decks By Design of from your local hardware.

I live in a bush fire prone area, what material can i use?

Depending on the BAL (bushfire attack level), construction material will differ. If you happen to live in ‘Flame Zone’, don’t dis pare, we have been using steel frames for over 10 years, this added with many non combustible decking boards available to us these days make for a very attractive deck. As these decking products become more popular, materials start to reduce in price.

Bushfire regulations for decking and pergolas

Strict regulations apply to decks and pergolas being built in bushfire prone areas. In many cases, sub-floor access must be restricted, and non-combustible materials must be used.

There is almost no greater threat to Australian homes than that of bushfires. The devastation caused by the bushfire in Victoria in 2009 was unprecedented in its intensity and the Building Code of Australia (BCA) had to be revised as a result. The new regulations include an increase in the gradation of Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) categories, so that there are now six of them. These range from low (BAL LOW) to extreme (BAL FZ or ‘Fire Zone’) which more accurately represents the range of threat levels a home might be under when a bushfire occurs.

How BAL ratings affect decking

The main problem faced by decks in high BAL risk areas is enclosing the sub floor space – this is a requirement for any property rated at BAL 12.5 or above. On higher rated properties, additional requirements such as non-combustible materials used in the supports and a clearance area of non-combustible material around any large glazed area such as a glass sliding door help to reduce the risk of a bushfire destroying your home.

Below is a list of the requirements that apply to decks for buildings with different BAL ratings:

BAL ratings Construction requirements
BAL-LOW No special requirements
BAL-12.5 Enclosed sub-floor spaces – no special requirements for materials, except within 400mm of the ground. No special requirements for framing or supports. Decking to be non-combustible or bushfire resistant within 300mm horizontally and 400mm vertically from a glazed element.
BAL-19 Enclosed sub-floor spaces – no special requirements for materials, except within 400mm of the ground. No special requirements for framing or supports. Decking to be non-combustible or bushfire resistant within 300mm horizontally and 400mm vertically from a glazed element.
BAL-29 Enclosed sub-floor space or non-combustible or bushfire-resistant timber supports. Decking must be non-combustible.
BAL-40 Enclosed sub-floor space or non-combustible supports. Decking must be non-combustible.
BAL-FZ Enclosed sub-floor space or non-combustible supports. Decking to have no gaps and be non-combustible

 

It is worth noting that freestanding decks in particular are not typically required to comply with the code provided that they are:

  • At least 6m away from the main building (Class 1) or any structure attached to it and
  • Classified as a Class 10 structure.

 

As with anything to do with construction and fire ratings, make sure you get confirmation from your local building authority if you are planning on building a free-standing deck.