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

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion

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.

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