Tuesday 6 January 2015

Decks Finished

With three decks in five separate sections covering 56 square meters it took a while to complete them. As with any building work we got more efficient and better the more we did. We had done the straight section of the curved deck and the whole of the L-shaped deck outside the hallway and rear bedroom.

L-shaped deck with two coats of decking oil
Boards laid out for curved deck

The next deck to be tackled was the two straight sections of the front deck, outside the front door and front bedroom. Before this was sufficient decking was temporarily laid out to complete the curved deck in single lengths so that we did not have to join any boards. As no power tools were required this was a job that could be performed in the cool of the evening, out of the hot summer sun.

The thin sections of the front deck posed no difficulty was their spacing was the same as the deck outside the back bedroom, so we know how many boards to use. As before we oiled the underside and sides of the decking with Intergrain natural oil before we laid them. Pieces of the iron bark decking were bowed and twisted and needed persuading into position with the assistance of a crowbar.

Freshly oiled deck outside front bedroom

Deck outside front door

Deck wrapping around corner
As we had completed the first part of the deck together, my friend Martin, came back down to Culburra to finish the curved deck. Cutting the boards around the sliding doors was easy, having already done it for five other sets of doors however, for this deck we had a down pipe protruding through the deck. Extra packers at joist level had been attached to support the cut out and with a paper template made up the boards were cut out neatly with a jig saw to fit snugly around the down pipe.

The next challenge was that the deck spanned between two sections of the house and as the case often is with building the two sections of the house were not perfectly parallel. A little bit of measuring was required and some additional spacing on one end of the boards and slightly tighter spacing on the other side of the boards fixed this problem. We worked out from the rear door of the main room toward the decking we had completed earlier. Having roughly laid the boards out it was difficult due to the bows and twists in the boards to be able to tell if they would fit neatly of the spacing would have to be adjusted to completed the deck in full width boards.

We were using 3.2mm window wedges as our spacers between the decking boards. When we only had six boards left we jammed the spacers in between the boards and used them and the boards themselves to straighten out any bows. With exceptional luck the boards all fitted perfectly, the last spacer just being persuaded into place with a hammer.

Curved deck laid in single lengths

The next challenge was to trim the boards to the curve. On the plans the curve was measures from a centre point 900mm in from the top and side of the deck however one side of the deck had been made longer to fit a full board along the door and had also been made slightly wider. We also made the horrible discovery that while all the boards had been allowed to hand over the joists to allow for some cut off, in two spots the boards were a little short. This meant that after some time trying to locate a suitable centre point and radius we came to the conclusion that the deck would be a complex curve consisting of several centres and radii. Even this proved difficult to produce a smooth curve. The solution came in the use of a garden hose, just like a flexible ruler, which with together with some curves drawn using string was able to produce a smooth curve which to the eye looked like one curve.

This was cut off with the jig saw. The cut was a little rough and lumpy in places, but all this was smoothed out later with the belt sander which was also used the take off the corners of the cut boards to give the pencil round look.

Rough cut curve

Edges all smoothed out

This left only the large front deck to complete. My sister helped me get the large deck ready, laying out the protect-a-deck black plastic over the joists and stapling it down. Although my sister has no building she is good at maths and this proved very useful as once again in the cool of the evening (and into the night) we laid out the boards for the large deck. This was a bit like a giant game of Tetris as two or three boards had to be joined to form each length. Each of the boards had to be joined over a joist and as the two ends of the deck were sloping each row was not identical. We were a bit short of timber and so wanted to make the most efficient use of each board, minimising offcuts.

Protect-a-deck stapled in place

Decking boards laid out
With a bit more ironbark decking ordered and delivered from DIY Timbers in Bomaderry another weekend was spent cutting the boards so that they joined precisely over a joist and oiling the tops and bottoms so that they just had to be screwed down. We only had just enough timber to finish the deck, with nothing but short scraps left over.

Decking boards cut and ready to be screwed down
On the weekend before Christmas I put in 1,800 stainless steel decking screws and finished the deck. I estimated that the deck would be 42 boards wide. I attached the first two boards against the house and the last board on the edge then measured out the distance of every fifth board. The plan was to measure out and attach every fifth board then evenly space the remaining four boards in between. I put in half the length of the first fifth board, then decided it would be quicker to do the fifth and tenth board at the same time. I then abandoned this as too time consuming and because the inside and outside boards were parallel I measured the distance for and pit in the middle board. I then used window wedges as spacers to space out the boards in between, by jamming the boards between the spacers the pressure from the adjoining boards corrected any bows in the wood. This was much more efficient and each half width of deck fitted quite well with only a few sections being a little tight as the newer timber was fractionally wider, presumably it had not shrunk as much. After a day and a half I was three quarters finished.

Window wedges spacing out the decking boards

Three quarters finished
The last quarter of the deck was only attached by one screw as I knew I would run out of stainless steel decking screws. A quick trip to the nearby Culburra Home hardware, who had a box of 250 stainless steel decking screws in just the right size on special, and I put in the second screws to finish the deck. I then used a string line to mark off the end and cut it with a circular saw, the cut edges were then rounded off with the belt sander. We then attached a cover fascia board to the end joist to make the deck look nice.

End of deck cut off

Fascia board ready to attach
Half way through the second coat of decking oil we ran out, having used 10 litres of oil on the deck. Finishing touches were then done by adding a fascia to the curved deck curved deck using the left over offcuts. The fascia was made up of several pieces to follow the joists, but we ran out of timber with two 500mm pieces left to attach.

Finished deck with second coat of oil to half

Fascia added to most of curved deck
All up we used 4,650 decking screws. We broke five drill bits. Thankfully the Smart-Bit combined countersink and drill bit comes with three replacement drill bits and after we had broken the first two drill bits I ordered a second one from Fasteners Galore just in case. As it turned out the countersink had become blunt after so many holes and for the last 1,500 screws I used the second Smart bit which was sharper and was therefore quicker and less effort. My Makita cordless drill and impact driver were fantastic. They each took the same battery and I had a third spare battery so I could have one on to charge while using the other two. With almost continuous used over the weekend I only once had two batteries needing charging at the same time and this was a good excuse for a break.

Finished deck in use


  1. Fantastic Job! Thanks for sharing these pictures its really helpful for my Decking Adelaide, Amazing Work!

  2. Good one, I really love reading these kinds of blogs. Keep updating and write something on Window Wedges Bramston Beach Camping and other things also.