Building a Deck - Laying the Decking

I've been laying the decking over a time of two weeks. I'd love to have got it all down in one day, but with a demanding two year old son, sometimes 8 hours of work can take a lifetime. Anyway, common wisdom suggests that you should start laying the decking from the middle of the deck. I'm not sure why this is the case, but I suspect it is to minimize the effect of misalignments. However, I was keen to get a nice finish on one side of the deck, and not too fussed on the other side, so I started from one end of the deck making sure to square up the first board as well as possible with the frame.

A string line was run along the fence side of the deck to get a nice straight edge on that side. I didn't bother cutting the boards to length at this stage and intend to use a chalk line and a circular saw to trim the boards to length when all the boards were laid. Twisted shank 2.8mm diameter, 50mm long decking nails were used to fix the boards to the joists. Two were nailed at each joint with the nails skewed for additional strength. Where nailing was required close to the end of a board I predrilled with a 1.5mm drill to prevent splitting of the boards.

To achieve neat spacing of the boards I decided on a 4mm spacing. 4mm ply was purchased and ripped into 50 mm strips. These strips were placed between the fixed board, and the board to be fixed, and the new board pushed firmly against the spacer to achieve a neat gap. Where the board was warped a 19mm chisel was use to lever the board against the spacer.

After fixing 4-5 timber decking boards I measured to make sure things were still all square. If there was any creep I adjusted the gap of the next board slightly to get things looking good again. At one end of the deck I had decided to affix some short lengths of decking with screws. This would provide an access point to get at the irrigation and lighting system that I had installed under the deck.

How Much Did I Get Done?

It takes around 10 minutes per board. If a board needs a deck light installed on it this goes up to 15 minutes. In four hours I've managed to get 24 boards down, with just 8 or so to go.

Image partially laid decking boards Image showing partially laid decking boards. Note the 4mm ply strips used as spacers.

Image partially laid decking boards Another view of the timber decking boards.

Using chisel to set the deck spacing Using a chisel to set the deck spacing.

Using chisel to set the deck spacing The access point for under the timber deck.

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