Over the past few weeks, we have been going over the basics of how to build your own timber decking. In our first article on how to build a deck, we covered the initial steps. These are things you do before ever picking up a tool or cutting a board. We talked about proper planning, budgeting, and what kind of tools you would need to build your timber deck.
In our second instalment on how to build a timber deck, we got down to business. We went over prepping the area for construction, laying foundation and posts, and about installing the ledger boards and timber deck bearers.
Finally, we have reached the end, where we will cover the final steps in building timber decks. Of course, this series of articles has been rather general. There are all sorts of timber decks out there that one might want to build. Here, we just covered the basics. Of course, we would be happy to answer any specific questions you might have about building a deck, timber decking in general, or the Deck-Max line of superior timber decking products.
Step 8 -Installing the Joists
You have already completed laying the foundation and steadying the support posts for your timber decking by now. If done properly, your deck is going to stand up against the test of time along with blowing winds and settling earth. We left off with installing the bearers for your deck. The bearers are support beams that your joists will sit on top of and be connected to.
It is important to space your decking joists appropriately. The average distance between joists on a deck is 450mm. If you spread the joists out too far from one another, you will have decking above that feels loose and springy. In such a case, you have failed to give adequate support to the timber decking, and you are putting excess wear on the surface of your deck. This will cause it to fail sooner. So, be sure your joists are properly spaced.
If you come to a point where two rows of joists meet over a beam under the deck, both joists ends will be nailed together. This will help to keep the joists in place and upright.
Each of your joist will be connected via joist hangers. The joist hangers for your timber decking will be situated on the ledger board on one side and on the rim joists on the other. Rim joists go around the perimeter of the decking.
You will first use a framing square to draw placement lines for your joist hangers on the ledger board of your timber deck. There will be two lines per joist hanger, each line being 45mm apart from one another. From the centre mark of those lines, you will need to measure 450mm. This measurement will serve as the centre mark for the next 45mm distanced joist hanger markers. Once you have drawn all the markers, you are ready to place the joist hangers.
Step 8a-Install the Joist Hangers
With all the markers set—be sure to double check those measurements—you can place the joist hangers. Use those markers as a guide. The 45mm gap should fit nicely in between the gap on the actual joist hanger. The joist hanger should have come with galvanized hanger nails, designed just for this purpose. If not, you should certainly be able to pick them up separately from the same supplier who provided the joist hangers to begin with. Be sure to use the recommended amount of nails on the joist hangers. You will know how many nails are recommended immediately from the number of guide holes on the joist hangers.
Repeat this step for each of the areas you marked with the guides for the deck’s joist hangers. Once you have all the joist hangers in place, you will be ready to hang and fasten the joists for your timber deck.
Step 8b-Install the Joists
With the joist hangers firmly in place, you can move on to the next step. First, find the crowned edge of your joist. Crowning on a joist means the edge of the wood that is somewhat rounded upward. This will be the top of your joist. Over time, the crowned edge of the joist will be flattened by the weight of the deck. This will keep it nice and even and prevent it from sagging. Mark this side of the timber decking joist, if it makes it easier for you.
Now, place the joist into the joist hanger. It should butt up against the bracing timber—either the ledger board or the rim joist. Some will use a polyurethane adhesive between the joist and ledger board or joist and rim joist, but it is not really necessary. Once in place, you will nail the joist in place with galvanized nails through the joist hanger. Again, use the right number of nails. This is not something you want to try and cut corners with.
Step 9-Install the Timber Decking
Now, you have laid the foundation, erected the posts, established the bearers and ledger boards, and placed the joists for your timber decking. That means the next step is laying down the timber decking. There are a few ways to do this. First, we will go over the old fashioned way. Then, we will go over the new and improved way to lay timber decking.
Before you lay down that first decking board, however, you must inspect each of your slats of timber decking. They should be free of splinters, cracking, and knots. If you need to trim the board for it to be suitable, do so. If the decking planks are not ideal, however, it is not a good idea to use them.
Once you have your timber decking boards selected, you can fasten them to your joists. The traditional method of fastening decking planks to joists is through using galvanized nails, nailing through the timber decking boards directly into the joists. Some will also use galvanized or stainless steel screws. In an effort to save cost and time, many will use a pneumatic nail gun to affix decking boards to the joists.
Using screws to fasten the decking planks to the joists is better, but takes longer. In these cases, you need to pre-drill clearances holes before drilling the screws through.
When laying down the decking boards, you will need clearance. The specific amount of clearance depends on a number of things. Most particularly, you must consult the manufacturer’s specifications for the style timber decking you have purchased in regards to the breathing clearance necessary. You may also want to check with a structural engineer or the local council ordinances. Lay each board down at the appropriate distance and then begin the fastening process. It is usually best to work from one side of the deck to the other in this process.
The ends of the decking boards can hang over the rim joists until being properly fastened to the joists. Once that is done, you can use the chalk line tool to snap a straight line across the decking boards and then use a circular saw to cut them all to the same length.
Installing Timber Decking the New and Improved Way
Deck-Max has revolutionized the timber decking industry. While the same basic concepts of foundation and framing have remained unchanged, Deck-Max brings forth a way to lay down the decking boards that is going to save you time and money. This is called their “no nails” decking solution.
The entire concept revolves around the specially designed timber decking, secret fixing biscuit. There are two kinds of these made by Deck-Max: the Original and the Pro.
Broken down to its simplest, the Deck-Max Original and Deck-Max Pro biscuit both work in the same general manner. A groove is cut along the middle edge of the decking. This groove fits along the edge of the timber decking biscuit. So, to fasten the board to the joists, it is more a matter of fastening the biscuit to the joist. Once the biscuit is in place, the decking board is slid into place and held there through the engineering wonder of Deck-Max.
This method has been proven to be stronger than other timber decking fastening methods. It is faster, because you have no need to pre-drill holes. Granted, using a nail gun straight through the timber decking board might be faster, but then you have just forced a hole into a solid object. This opens a small gap that may now not be properly treated, and will succumb to the elements sooner, for every nail that is driven in. Beyond that, you have also run the risk of cracking or splitting the board during installation going about it this old way.
These holes—by screws or by nails—allow water to pool up and eat away at the integrity of the timber decking. This can lead to premature deterioration, mould growth, or warping. The secret fixing decking solution by Deck-Max does away with this to as much an extent as is possible.
What about those decks that have been around for a few years? You need to go out and refinish them every six months or so. Run into those decking boards that have the nails or screws standing out over them? Then you have to replace, or possibly plug the hole and put a new nail or screw in. Or, with those screws and nails hanging up, at the top of the board, you are running a risk of someone getting hurt by them. Instead, keep the hardware where it belongs—below the board.
In the following video, Deck-Max founder, Peter Lloyd shows how simple it is to use the Deck-Max timber decking solution.
I hope we have shown you something new here today. While there are many tried and proven methods out there for everything from building timber decking to laying a driveway, there is almost always room for improvement. With timber decking, this is one of those things that comes along and completely changes the way things are done. With years of experience, the engineering quality of the Deck-Max timber decking solution cannot be beat.
Next time, we are going to talk some more about decking. Then, it will probably be something new about decking. After that, we might change things up a bit and talk about timber decking. Be sure to drop us a line and tell us what you think.