Why having a deck will transform your outdoor living
Extend your living spaces beyond the back door with a hard-wearing and beautiful deck, writes Robyn Willis
Summer is just around the corner, so naturally our thoughts turn towards spending more time outdoors. One of the easiest ways to do that is on your own deck.
Architect and builder Clinton Cole from C+C Architectural Workshop says the desire for a deck has long run strong in the Australian psyche.
“Australians have a long history of building outdoor spaces, putting a roof on it, then adding a wall and then building another outdoor space,” Clinton says.
“Often you’ll see extensions like that and then people like me take them off again.”
A big fan of the traditional timber deck, Clinton says this outdoor flooring system has a lot going for it.
“The best thing about a timber deck is the way it performs in the summer heat,” he says.
“The main reason we use decking in external spaces is the way it feels underfoot and how it performs.
“Where the alternative is masonry,onry, granite or tiles, you can end up withth a space that is intolerable becausee those materials reflect the heat which can reflect back into the internal spaces as well.”
Do it right in terms of design, location and construction and you can end up with a beautiful space that extends your usable living area, especially during the warmer months. But get it wrong and you could end up with a potentially dangerous structure that sees too much or too little sun resulting in timbers that rot prematurely.
First things first
Check with your local council, but you may not need to submit a development application for a deck.
According to the NSW Department of Planning & Environment, decks less than 25sqm and no more than 1m above ground level are exempt.
Those living in bushfire prone areas may be restricted in both the design of their deck and the materials they can use to build it.
National sales and distribution manager for hardwoods at Boral Timber, Leon Travis, says there are several species of timber that come with high fire ratings.
“Spotted gum and blackbutt have the highest rating,” he says. “But if it’s possible for embers to get under the subfloor, that’s where you might have problems.”
Other products such as Flame Shield by ModWood, a wood waste and recycled plastic composite decking material, have been specific specifically designed for use in bushfire pron prone areas.
But if you want something y you’ll enjoy using and that’s built to last, you will still need to do your homework.
If you don’t build your deck in the righ right place then you’re wasting your time a and money, Clinton says. “If you’re looking at where to put a deck, don’t put it on the southern side of your house where it’s permanently shaded,” he says. “You will end up with damp and mould issues and after rain, it will stay damp and wet and the timbers will rot.
“North to northwest facing is ideal for a good deck.”
Safe and sound
In recent years, there have been reports of decks and balconies collapsing, in some cases causing major injuries.
While some jobs such as replacing a few decking planks are suitable for DIY, Leon says others are best left to the professionals.
“The safety issue around elevated decks is really an engineering decision,” he says.
“It’s about being compliant with the Building Code (of Australia).
“If you look at some of those accidents, the decks were held together with a single bolt. Any good builder will construct to the code.”
If you do engage a professional, check their building licence and don’t be afraid to ask questions about bolts and fasteners.
This beautiful hardwood timber deck from Boral Timbers is built to last a lifetime.
This project by Clinton Cole (below) created a multi-use space for children’s play as well as an area with a built-in barbecue.