The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)

Hitting the deck


Garden decking has been a must-have ever since Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock took over our TV screens in Ground Force back in the 1990s.

With the help of Tommy the builder, they made it look easy, but as anyone who has ever tried laying their own garden decking will know – it isn’t.

Unless you follow a guide like this one . . .

2things first. Measure the space where you intend to put your decking. Use string and pegs tomarkout the area in the ground, or if you’re laying your decking over a patio you can use chalk. If you’re putting decking down above bare ground, make sure you weed it first then put down a weedproof membrane so you don’t get any regrowth which will later spoil your decked area. Cover the membrane with gravel and you’re ready for the next stage. Once you have measured up, cut and po- sition the decking joists. Cut the joists to the size needed to create the frame for your decking area. You’ll then need to fill the frame with floor joists which need to be 400mm apart. Before you go ahead and cut the joists make sure you mark the points where they will fit inside the frame. Once you’ve measured and cut your frame and joists put them in place, but don’t screw them just yet.

3Use a spirit level to check the joists are level as you proceed with screwing the frame and floor joists together. For this, it’s advisable to use countersun­k screws in already- drilled holes – 70mm screws are best and you should use three at each end of the joist to ensure they are solid and sturdy.

the frame and joists are screwed together, it’s time to lay the decking boards. Place the boards at a right angle to the direction of the joists so that you have a frame- work to screw the boards to. Start on the outside of the deck and ensure your boardis level with the outer edge of the frame. To fix the boards to the frame use two 50mm countersun­k screws in ready-made holes. Screw themat each joist andwork your way across the frame, ensuring you leave a gap of about 3mm to 5mm between each board. It’s important to leave agapso the wood can “breathe” and expand if necessary. If you don’t leave gaps you could end up with buckled decking.

the cut ends of the joists and decking boards with a wood preservati­ve. This is vital if you wanttokeep rot atbay. Also invest in a decking stain. A really simple treatment that’s available in a variety of colours, it will protect your wood decking from g r e y i ng , s c uf f s a nd scratches and the weather.

backandenj­oy your decking.

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