If you're thinking about installing a deck there are a few things you need to consider. Even a small deck represents a considerable outlay (I've just seen a self assembly deck for under 150 GBP but it's only 1.8m x 1.8m (about the size of a standard fence panel) and only suitable to be laid at ground level. Actually that's not bad, you wouldn't be able to buy the materials for that price but how much use would a deck that size be and how long will it last laid on the ground or an existing patio? The minimum life expectancy of a deck is 15 years but a deck or plarform built with a new house should be constructed to last 60 years.

You can get composite decking materials which are virtually maintenance free but you'll be paying over four times as much per square meter.

Avoid using untreated iron fixings, they will corrode and stain the timber. Use stainless steel or coated steel.

Before You Start  Planning and Building Regulations
Regular Maintenance
Weatherproofing


Before You Start

Putting up decking, or other raised platforms, in your garden is a permitted development, not normally needing an application for planning permission, providing:

    The decking is no more than 30cm above the ground

    Together with other extensions, outbuildings etc, the decking covers no more than 50 per cent of the garden area.

Other restrictions apply depending on where you live so it's worth a phone call to your local planning officer. Your decking contractors are not responsible for getting planning permission but must comply with current building regulations.

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Regular Maintenance

You should sweep your deck regularly using a stiff broom. A few minutes a week can save you hours of work trying to restore your deck's appearance. Using a mild detergent like washing up liquid to mop your deck before hosing it down with fresh water can help to prevent the deck becoming slippery as well as removing everyday grime. Bad stains will need the application of a specialist decking cleaner. Oxalic acid is available as a wood bleach but it needs to be used with care as it is highly poisonous.

Although hobby pressure washers available from DIY stores are unlikely to be powerful enough to do much damage to a timber deck they should be used with care. Pressure washing can damage the fibres of the timber allowing it to absorb more moisture. As a guide don't get the jet too close to the timber, better still use a diffuser

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Weatherproofing

The choice treatments is yours, there are dozens on the market. Bear two things in mind, whatever product you use needs to offer UV protection and if you use a stain you could be making a rod for your own back. Once you stain exterior timber (fences included) you are going to have to keep up a regimen. If you want to change the colour you're looking at hard work and the possibility of damaging the timber. I usually recommend a clear decking oil but whatever product you choose always read the instructions.

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