As the old saying goes, "if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail." This is often used for many scenarios in life, whether that's before an exam, a presentation or just day-to-day life itself. It can also be applied to deck design, however. As failing to prepare a new deck sufficiently, will only lead to far greater problems later down the line.
When it comes to installing a new deck in your garden, the planning and design phase is probably just as, if not more important than the actual installation. With so many variables to account for, such as the number of deck boards required, fittings and fixtures such as screws and clips and how best to utilise the space you have in your outdoor area, there is huge room for error. By precisely planning your deck, you minimise the chances of things going wrong, leading to a smooth and easy deck build, something that every homeowner would want!
So, how do you go about planning a deck project? TimberTechUK are here to tell you!
Planning your deck project
For the planning of your deck project, there are several things that you'll need to consider. The first of these is where in your garden is your deck going to be located. This may not seem like a particularly important issue but trust us, it is. Knowing the optimal location for your deck may be the most important part of the whole planning process, as the last thing you want is to finish installing your deck to realise it would have been better suited on the opposite end of your garden.
Understanding where the sun rises and sets in relation to your garden should be a priority. Ideally, you'll want your deck to be in the sun for as long as possible, so learning the sun's path should be one of the first things you do to ensure you're not left in the dark (unless that's what you want).
The next thing to consider when planning your deck is the nature of exit and entry to your home. If you want to utilise existing doors, steps and walkways in your garden then you'll need to plan the design of your deck around these. If not, you may find your deck becomes an awkward feature that doesn't allow you to get around your garden as easy as you first thought. By building your deck to compliment your building, you will create an outdoor space that feels like an extension of your inside, rather than just another exterior structure.
Planning permission is another crucial element of any deck planning process. In the UK, there are rules around the size of your deck in relation to the size of your building and garden. For example, surfaces including decking, are not permitted to cover more than 50% of a property's garden. Therefore, if you are considering installing a deck which does cover a large part of your outdoor space, it is recommended that you discuss your plans with your local authority planning office before you begin your installation. The following situations require planning permission before building a deck:
- If your deck is installed within 20 metres of highway
- If your deck is more than 30mm (1ft) from the ground
- If any area of your deck exceeds 3m in height
- If your deck would affect the value or privacy of surrounding properties
- If the deck is situated within a conservation area or national park or is attached to a listed building
The design of your deck
Understanding and knowing what deck design you're going to have is also another crucial element in the planning process. The way in which you're going to use your deck will have an impact on the way the sub-frame is designed and built. Typical deck designs include:
- Ground-level decks
- Partially-elevated decks
- Elevated decks
- Multi-level decks
If you plan on building your deck for a large number of people, for example at a bar or restaurant, you may need to look at commercial specifications such as fire-retardant-treated sub-frames and deck boards that have high levels of grip or slip-resistance. The direction that you'd like your deck boards to be installed will also dictate how your joists and sub-frame is built. Deck boards with smaller cross-sections will need more joists and greater support.
During the design process, always plan to a deck with is free draining. For suitable water run-off, your deck should be installed on a slight gradient (at least 1 in 80). Install grooved decking down the fall to allow run-oof and ensure the groove ends can drain freely. You may be required to pack out the fascia. Installing deck boards in a particular way, such as a quadrant or checkerboard pattern can hinder drainage resulting in more frequent maintenance requirements.
Safety should always play an important role in the planning of your deck project. Whether it's to do with the type of boards you use, the number of levels you intend to incorporate or how hight from the ground your deck is built. Either way, you should always consider what risks are involved with the finished deck when going through each stage of the planning process.
One way of increasing the safety levels of your deck whilst contributing to an attractive design is through the addition of balustrades. These can serve several functions, ranging from decorative edging to full-blown safety barriers, particularly on multi-level decks. The height of the balustrade that you add to your deck will again depend on how far the deck surface is off the ground. For lower-level decks up to 600mm from the ground, the height of your balustrade should be 900mm. For higher-level decks that sit over 600mm high, the balustrade height should be 1100mm.
Carefully planning how to incorporate these safety measures is of vital importance.
Ready, set, go
Once you have considered all of the above points, your deck plan should be ready to go. Ensure everything that you need is in place to make your installation go as smoothly as possible. If you require information on how to install your deck, you can visit our installation resources page or watch our video below.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with a member of the TimbrTech team if you require more information on how to plan or install your new deck!