South Africans are warming up to the beauty of outdoor decks as an alternative to other materials. A beautiful wooden deck adds another level of natural texture to any outdoor space.
Building a deck is a relatively easy project to do and in no time you can have an area where family and friends can gather together for a braai, lunch outdoors, or simply relax and enjoy the conversation.
Not only do decks look good, they are an easy do-it-yourself option for the homeowner who wants to add a seating, dining or entertainment area outdoors. They allow any homeowner to take advantage of our almost year-round sunny climate, and when planned to best advantage, can increase living space.
The Internet is filled with ideas and inspiration for building a deck, whether a small deck to add a comfortable seating area to your outdoor space, to a full-on deck for entertaining and outdoor living. Whatever deck you have in mind, we offer a few tips on what to consider when building a deck.
Design and Location
When looking to add a deck, even a small one, it's important to think carefully about how the space is going to be used in order to determine the best design, and where it should be located. Any garden landscaper or designer will tell you that positioning is the key to a deck that works well and blends as seamlessly as possible with indoor living spaces.
You want a deck to take best advantage of the surrounding garden, but also need to consider adding shade, if there isn't already some form of shade. Our summers get very hot, and this can be uncomfortable and reduce the amount of time when the deck can be fully utilised, so factor in some shade for the hottest part of the day.
Privacy is also an element to consider. Will the deck be hidden by the house or established plants, or will you need to erect a privacy screen to shield the deck from nosy neighbours.
For those who love to entertain on a regular basis, think about durable seating with built-in wooden seats with extra storage, or precast concrete seating. You can also incorporate accessories such as a built-in drinks fridge and braai barbecue, a place to mount outdoor speakers, as well as ambient outdoor lighting for essential tasks such as cooking and eating outdoors, as well as to set the right mood.
Before you start, do your research on the types of timber locally available for building a deck. There are many different types of decking timber that you can use to build your deck - and the material you choose will most probably be determined by how much you have to spend. Use Google to search online for decking timbers and your nearest point of supply, at which time you can contact various suppliers to obtain a guideline price based on what's available.
You can build a deck using a softwood like pine, but bear in mind that this type of wood requires regular maintenance and a proper support structure, since pine is not as dense or strong as hardwoods. However, pine is a very affordable option for many homeowners and is readily available at Builders or hardware stores around the country.
Finishing off your Deck
Adding a covering to the deck will allow you to spend more time outdoors enjoying the space. There are a variety of materials to choose from, from bamboo and grass, to a fully fitted roof. As with the deck, do a bit of research to see what materials are locally available, and fit in with what you have to spend, and look at what best suits the design of your particular deck.
Finishing also includes applying a deck sealer to the finished deck, unless you plan to let it age naturally. If you're using a softwood or medium-hardwood such as pine, meranti or saligna, these require regular application of a suitable exterior deck sealer.