Before you do anything, check with your local council to see if you need a permit. Keep in mind that every local planning division is different, so it’s always worth asking before getting started.
For example: in Victoria, Queensland and WA, a permit is required to build a deck. In Tasmania, decks under a certain size don’t require a permit, but decks with a roof or sitting over 1m from the ground may need approval.
Once you understand the legalities of building your deck, it’s time to assess the surface you are building on. You can build a deck on grass, soil or concrete, but the surface will determine what materials you need to use.
In some cases, your deck might be built on two different surfaces (like concrete and grass). If building on grass or soil, remember to check your site plans for pipes before you dig. If you don’t have plans, check with your local council. That way, when it’s time to dig, you won’t go damaging any pipes.
Once you’ve sorted out the position, it’s time to consider the right level for your deck. One element to consider is if you want it to be level with your back door, or whether you need or want to include a step.
If the deck is undercover, ensure there’s enough head-space - particularly if there’s an outdoor fan, hanging light or plans to add these in the future.
Decking comes in a wide variety of styles and durability. If you’re living in a coastal area, you may need to look into treated native timber, as this will fare best in coastal conditions. If you live in a bushfire-prone area, it might be worth considering a timber with a high fire resistance.
Next, determine the layout of your deck. It can go parallel to the house, perpendicular or even a mix of both!
The last thing you want is rusty screws! Make sure you use stainless steel or galvanised decking screws that will endure a wide range of weather conditions. (The last thing you want in your new deck is rusty screws!)
Timber expands and contracts with the climate, so it’s important to use screws that can accommodate this. Decking screws are specifically designed to last as long as your deck does, with corrosion resistance and a flush finish. Because they are screws (and not nails), they will hold the timber to the joists, whereas nails will let the timber pop up over time.
To maintain your deck and protect it from the elements, finish it off with a stain or decking oil. There are stains available that can enhance the natural colour of your selected timber or grain. You can also choose various tones to suit the look you’re after, such as a darker stain, warm walnut or whitewash.
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.