Deck fastened with Tiger Claws from Deck Fastener

There are numerous different ways to attach your deck to the supports that you have created.  Today we want to explore some of the different ways that you may do this.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each, so it is best to fully consider how you want to look after your deck ongoing as to which option you choose.

Before we get into the different types of ways to fix your deck, there are a few important things to remember.  The first is to ensure that you leave space between each piece of decking timber.  This will ensure any rain water can drain and will not sit in puddles.  You can do this by using a nail between each plank or alternatively a small piece of wood, your ruler, anything that you can use consistently throughout the project and is approximately 5mm in thickness.  The second is to ensure that when starting or finishing a beam it must finish over a joint.  If it doesn’t trim it to the correct size.

Nail

The most common way to fix decking boards to the deck is by using nails.  Ensure that your nails are galvanised and that you use two for each joint. If you are nailing the end of a piece, you will need two nails for the end of the beam and two for the start of the next beam.  Make sure you use a nail punch to ensure that the heads of the nails go below the surface of the timber.

Nailing your deck is quite quick, but you will need to check your deck from time to time to ensure that they haven’t worked themselves free and are now protruding from the surface.  These can cause nasty cuts and punctures to small children, so you will need to ensure they are quickly nailed back into place.  This said they have better sheer strength to the screw.

Screws

While nails may be stronger, it is the screw that will hold tighter, which means you are much less likely to have the screw protrude above the deck surface, however, it is not a full good news story and many builders continue to use nails because of their strength.  Using screws will also mean you are more likely to find and have to replace broken ones.  In addition it is said that the swelling of the timber when it is wet can cause the screws to break, which then leaves a gap where moisture can gather.

More information can be gathered from this blog article.  It is set in Australia and while we are unlikely to have earthquakes it still makes interesting reading.

Clips

Overseas there are a number of different deck clips that can be used to seal your deck in place.  In Australia the range is starting to grow so it is worth checking out the alternatives before you commit to any one option.  Each of these items are very different in the way that they work, so it is best to talk to the manufacturer or hardware store to see if they are suitable for your needs and environment.  The advantage of these clips which include plastic items that attach to your joists, right through to Tiger Claws is that they give you an end result which is much cleaner with no nails or screws.

Clips have their own downfalls depending on which one you choose, but you will not have to worry about nails in feet!

Whatever you choose to make your deck, check out DIY Bargain Bin’s Hardware, Nails, Screws, Bolts and Nuts section for everything that you need.

Spotted Gum Deck from Bransons Building Materials

If you decide to build your own deck sometime this spring one of the first questions that will leap to mind will be what is the best Australian decking timber to use?  There are so many different types around, so how do you select something that will both look good and be durable in your area?  Well today we are going to look at hardwood decking timbers and what is available.

Knowing and considering your climate and the conditions your deck will endure is so important because as a natural product timber is susceptible to its environment.  If you live in a dry area and your decking will potentially be exposed for many hours to harsh direct sunlight it will require a different type of timber than if you are up in the snowy mountains.  The other thing to consider is whether the area is subject to pests, for example if you have had termites previously, planning on a termite resistant timber will be essential.  All in all though if you keep in mind that Australian timber is best suited to Australian conditions you will be on the right track.

Why hardwood?

Hardwood timber represents the strongest and most durable timber for deck building, but you will find that as such it is more expensive than softwood.  Hardwoods are generally more resilient to pests and are reacher in colour.  Timber is ranked on its strength and durability, the scale runs from 1 (highest) to 4 (lowest).  All timbers used for decking should be at least a level 1 or 2.

The timbers most commonly available in Australia are:

  • Bartu & Merbau – These two types of timber are from Asia, but have been included because they are favoured by many Australians as the choice of timber decking.  They are both of class 2 durability and are usually cheaper than the Australian natural timbers.
  • Blackbutt – Is great to use in areas that are in a Bush Fire classified area because they have a natural fire resistance.  Blackbutt has a durability class of 2 and is Brown in appearance
  • Ironbark – Ironbark is stronger than Blackbutt (durability class 1) and can be purchased in a red colour or grey colour.
  • Jarrah – Has a durability rating of 2 and has a beautiful deep crimson shade to it.
  • River Red Gum – Durability of 2 and is a pale cherry red colour
  • Spotted Gum – Is great to use in areas that are in a Bush Fire classified area because they have a natural fire resistance.  Like the Blackbutt it also has a durability of 2 and is Brown in colour, though you can get some fantastic variation in Spotted Gum.
  • Stringy Bark – Comes in a three key colours, Yellow Stringy Bark, White Stringy Bark and Red Stringy Bark.  All have a durability rating of 3, except the Red Stringy Bark which is currently at 2, though may be likely to move to a 3 soon.  Because it has a lower durability ask an expert in your area to confirm whether it is a suitable timber species for your deck in your area.
  • Tallow wood – Has a durability of 1 and is yellowish in color.

Australian Hardwoods - image from Aus Timber Supplies

Find your hardwood timber at DIY Bargain Bin Timber Structural, or for more information on selecting timber for Australian decking see the Deckwood Selection Guide published by Outdoor Structures and more information on the durability ratings of timber can be located at Wood Solutions – Timber – Natural Durability Ratings.

Engineered Timber from Timber Engineered Structures.

What is it?

Well it is hard to say quickly many times in a row, but more than this Engineered Timber may be the way forward for the majority of Australia’s buildings.

But back to what is Engineered Timber and it is a term that covers a wide range of timbers that have been enhanced in order to tailor their suitability for specific uses, particularly for use in structural situations.  The timber is a composite of wood and wood fibre with adhesives and other materials which improves the durability and strength of the piece.

What can it be used for?

This type of timber can be used for all sorts of purposes and can be made into a number of different shapes and sizes.  The Structural Timber however is mostly sold in the form of a beam and is perfect for all structural home building, especially for decking where you may want a natural look rather than trying to blend steel and wood together.

Curved timber design by Timber Engineered Structures

This type of engineered timber can even be used to create curved timber designs such as this one here.  This image is taken from the Timber Engineered Structures Website and shows just how much this type of timber can achieve.

Why use it?

Even if you do decide to use timber over steel, why would you choose Engineered Structural Timber over a natural hardwood?  Well the answer is quite simply because it is made from well managed, environmentally friendly plantation timber.  Many of the providers also limit their plantations to Australia and New Zealand, meaning the money and control of those plantations remains here.

Both steel and natural timber levy a cost on our natural habitat, whether it is by cutting down rainforest timber that will take decades to reestablish itself or by using steel which may cause the emission of toxic gasses into the atmosphere.  Although  steel companies are rapidly improving the level of emissions and their recycling schemes, engineered timber is still the more eco-friendly option.

Who supplies Engineered Timber?

There are a number of manufacturers and suppliers of sustainable engineered structural timber around.  The DIY Bargain Bin Structural Timber section is a good place to start your search with many suppliers listing their stock with us.

Alternatively see these websites for more details:

Does your deck look like this? If so do not despair, follow our steps here. Image supplied by Cutek.

With the footy prelim finals only a few days away we can start to turn our attention to the summer days and barbeques that will fill those non footy hours until next year.  It is therefore timely to start thinking about those summer preparation tasks that will help make them all the more enjoyable.  Previously we have featured articles on maintaining your pool and your barbeque, so today we are going to turn our attention to the deck.  In fact we are going to run a 10 day feature on everything you need to know about your deck!

So if you already have a deck, it is important to ensure that it is maintained.  What your deck is made of will influence how much maintenance it needs, however all decks even new ones will need to be sealed and given a little TLC to keep them looking their best. Here is our step by step for maintaining your deck:

1. Clear and sweep your deck before you start.

The difference is almost impossible to believe. This bench has just had the end of three boards sealed. Image from Cutek

2. Look over your deck first to identify any broken, loose or badly damaged boards.  If you have any of these you will need to replace them.

3. Now investigate for nails that are protruding from the timber.  These can do so much damage to bare feet, and given it is summer, who really wants to wear shoes.  If you find any give them a good hammer to ensure that the surface of your deck is flat.

4. Choose your timber sealant.  Some products require that the old paint or stain be removed prior to sealing so it is a good time to do your shopping.  Select both a sealant and if you have kids, animals or plants, a non-toxic cleaning solution.  In Australia a popular choice for sealing timber decks is by using Cutek.  Cutek works by penetrating deeply into the timber, others just coat the top, which when scratched or damaged will cease to protect that exposed surface.  In addition it doesn’t breakdown in sunlight and is designed to protect against Australian pests like termites!  Finally Cutek is also safe for humans, animals and the environment.  More information can be found at Timber Coatings Australia.

5. Depending on the instructions on your sealant (you may need to strip back paint or old coats of stain first) then you will be ready to clean your deck.  There are a number of substances like dirt and grime that over time will build up on the surface of the deck, even if it is predominantly under cover.  Think about your deck usage, barbeque grease and fat that has splattered from the grill, that dropped sausage or spilled drink, how many pairs of shoes have walked across it, do you have pets etc?.  The build up of this grime can lead to the deck being rough, or alternatively slimy if it starts to grow a mossy film. Yuck, so lets remove it.

6. Follow the instructions of your cleaning solvent and using a brush with bristles scrub at the deck.  Some solutions will require you spray the deck first, so do this if required.  Basically you just need to ensure that you complete the steps as indicated by your particular cleaning product.

6. Rinse the deck by hosing it down, then allow it to fully dry.

This is the same deck as shown in the first image. The transformation is great. Image from Cutek.

7. You are now ready to seal your deck.  You can do this by painting it (roller or brush) or spraying it.  Again if you have plants and other things you want to protect, we recommend taking the time to use a brush or roller.  Whatever you choose ensure that you have carefully read, understand and follow the instructions on your chosen sealant.  If you have chosen a Cutek sealant there are additional instructions here.

8. With your deck now sealed, you are ready to replace your chairs and barbeque.  String up the fairy lights and wait for the summer weather to roll around.

Before you go visiting the hardware stores, check out the DIY Bargain Bin Paints, Oils, Stains, Varnishes and Painting Supplies first.

Attached Carport by Extreme How-To. For the designs to this carport see the list of carport designs below.

So we have gone through the initial questions of design and you should now have spoken to the council and be ready to prepare formal plans if required.  But before we get down to choosing a plan in order for you to build the carport yourself, lets recap on our checklist.

Checklist:

  1. Decide your preference for a freestanding or connected carport
  2. Have a decent picture in your mind about how you want your carport to look, how high it will be and how long, is it single or double, etc.
  3. Measure and confirm where it will go and that it fits.  Also measure the distances to the nearest boundaries or other structures.
  4. Talk to your neighbours and get their confirmation that they do not mind your new structure.
  5. Speak to your council and get information including any restrictions with your building and what you need to supply to the council if you  do need to apply for council approval.
  6. Select your design and modify it to suit your look.
  7. Choose your materials ensuring these are in line with council requirements.  Go for durable material that suits the environment you live in.
  8. Draw up your plans showing both the design and measurements and note on the plans your materials.  Your diagrams will need to be quite detailed.
  9. Apply for approval.
  10. Invite your mates over and have a ‘build a carport’ weekend!

In Building a Carport Part 1 we looked at items 1-3 on the checklist above and in Building a Carport Part 2 we reviewed 4 and 5.  Now we will look at the remaining points.

Choosing a design

So you know roughly how you want your carport to look, so now it is just a matter of finding a design to match.  We have scoured the internet and bring you some of the best designs around:

  • How to build a wood-free carport – this carport is described by eHow as moderately easy to build but lacks pictures and diagrams to assist.
  • Free standing carport plans and construction details – I really like these plans from BuildEazy as they go into much more detail and include images of what you need to do.  You will find this is a single carport with only a slight sloping roof.  Be aware that some councils will require more of a slope.  Note that this carport design comes in imperial and metric versions.
  • Two car garage with either a frame or post construction – These are great detailed plans of a two car garage.  You will find them on this site under number 5929 and 5930.  It would be quite easy to adapt these plans to your own carport because they are so well done.
  • A shade cloth carport – A different idea altogether from DIY Site these are plans for how to construct a carport using shade cloth.
  • Attached Carport – This design from Extreme How-To shows with plenty of instruction, diagrams and photos how to build an attached carport.

Shade cloth carport from the DIY Site. For instructions on how to build this carport, see the link above.

Choosing your materials

Most of these designs clearly list the materials that you will need in order to make the carport.  The next step is to choose what timber and what screws you should use.  If you are not used to building such structures it may be worth talking to your local hardware store.  Seek out the appropriate expert to guide you as to what you need to consider when purchasing, but some of the items you might want to consider are whether there are issues with termites, longevity of the material (weather resistant such as treated wood and galvanised steel).  Check out the DIY Bargain Bin for all your requirements as you can save a lot of money buying from one of our suppliers than purchasing direct from another timber supplier.

Draw up your plans

It is now time to draw up your formal plans. Remember at this stage you should already be fairly comfortable with what the council will and will not allow.  If you are not able to draw up the plans to the level of detail you may wish to hire an expert to do these for you.  An example of how your plans must look is shown in the image below which was taken from Whitehorse Council’s (VIC) website.

Sample plans for a carport sourced from Whitehorse Council's website.

Check with your council on the exact information they want to see and what scale the diagrams should be.

You are now ready to apply for approval.  Once received you are ready to go ahead with construction of your carport.


This free standing carport was built by Pergola Land in NSW. If you decide to use a professional to build your carport, ensure that they will assist with the securing of council approval. Because they have experience in building carports they will know exactly what your council requirements are and can guide you through the process.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you view it the council have a large say in what we build on our properties and how we go about building them. To make matters even more confusing there are two types of permits / approvals which the council have and they are governed under different acts.  They are the Planning Permit and the Building Permit.  Simply put by Greater Dandenong (VIC) Council “a building permit deals with a building’s structural stability and safety whilst a planning permit deals with local appropriateness of form, location or use.”

The main permit for a home owner wishing to build a carport is the Planning Permit.  The council will advise after this if a building permit is also required.

The Planning Permit ensures that the building is in line with the zoning of the area, the building is in keeping with the area and that the building will not adversely impact neighbours.

Therefore it is important to consider these things in your design.  All councils are different and have their own rules, so it is worth dropping in and collecting these before you start doing any formal design.  Another great option to ensure the success of your project is to start talking at this stage to your neighbours.  Most will not care, but will appreciate being asked, but also if someone does have an issue it is better to identify it now before you pay for a permit / approval to proceed.  For example, if you are planning on building an extended driveway down the side of your home with the carport out the back, it may be that they have a baby that sleeps just next to that area.  They would then have grounds to objecting because your car never went down that side previously.

Do I definitely need a permit / approval?

The answer is quite simply, no, BUT, in many cases you do.  Some councils have fantastic resources that will clearly tell you when you do and when you do not need to apply for council approval.  One such council is Ryde (NSW) which has a great information sheet entitled ‘Carports and Garages’.  It clearly specifies when a development is exempt in a bulleted table.

The restrictions look at things such as:

  • The size of the proposed carport or structure.
  • Where it is in relation to the building line – The building line is the imaginary line drawn at a set distance from the street.  For most places this is about 5-8metres, but it really depends upon the other houses in the area. To get an idea of this, check the distance between the front of your home and the street, and estimate this for your neighbours properties.
  • How many sides are open.
  • Whether you need a new driveway.
  • The design and construction of the carport, how high it will be, whether it is attached or free-standing and what materials it will be made of.
  • Its location in relation to the boundaries of the property and any easement, sewer and water mains.
  • Whether there is a need to conserve heritage in your area.

The actual specifics of each of these will vary, so it is worth sitting down with a pencil and jotting down some rough drawings and thinking about your materials and placement before visiting the council.

With all these things done, make an appointment with a council representative in the planning section.  Take with you the photos of the ideas you like, photos of the front of your property, your sketches and the list of information and notes you have made in relation to your carport.  This should ensure that after a quick consultation with the planner, you will know whether you can proceed with your design, whether you will need a permit and what you need to do if you are planning to avoid requesting a permit.

Why bother asking for council approval?

It is a good question, especially if your neighbours do not mind, why would you ask when you could face the fact that you will not be able to build?  Or even if you will be able to proceed it is going to cost you a few hundred dollars for approval so why do it?

Well the answer is that if you ever decide to sell your home you are likely to have issues finding a buyer if it is not approved.  The carport if built well will add value to your home, but if it is not approved, a building inspection will likely identify it.  The structure will then need to be approved at that point.  Councils generally do not take well to being asked after the fact and in most areas do have the jurisdiction to have the ‘addition’ removed.  And it is not just when selling, a new neighbour may move in and object to the structure.  Without approval for it, the council will strongly favour your neighbour.

Therefore it is best to ask up front, a little pain and financial outlay now, will serve you will in the long term.

Tomorrow we will check out designs for carports and complete our checklist for successful building!  Check out the DIY Bargain Bin Garden Sheds, Barns and Carports for predesigned buildings and structures.  Remember that you may still need council approval before establishing these.

There are so many reasons why you may want to consider building a carport.  One key reason was demonstrated clearly over the winter when the suburbs of Melbourne were hit with one of the fiercest storms in recorded history.  Melbourne residents never expected that given how much further south it is from Sydney that it could be subject to hail the size that was seen that day.

So more and more we are seeing the weather patterns shift and change, and in order to protect ourselves and our belongings we are having to become more aware and prepare.

Building a garage to protect your car can be incredibly costly, however you can achieve the same results with a carport and we’ll tell you how and where to find the best designs on the internet.  But first, you will need to take some time to consider what sort of carport is right for you.

The most simple decision is whether to have it free standing or attached to your house.

Attached carport build by Alexander Handyman in America

When to attach your carport to your house:

If your house currently has a side access that is the width of one or two cars, then this is the best time to build an attached carport, because it can extend from the side of your house over the car.  If your carport will extend to near the wall then this is even better as you will receive weather protection from both the sides (house on one and fence on the other).

Another option for attaching a carport to your home is where the front design of your home is not square on to the street.  These L shaped homes are much more adaptable to adding a carport as they give you maximum area to connect to the house.

Of course there is no right and wrong with this decision, owners of homes with a double garage will often extend a carport from above the garage doors out up their driveway, which effectively provides them with four under cover spaces for their cars.  This is great if you are a family with young adult children who have their own cars.

Free Standing Carport from the Project Centre in NarreWarren

When to build a free standing carport:

If you do not have a building near to where you wish to build your carport, it is clear that you will have to build a free standing carport.  Many other home owners choose to go free standing purely because it can look so much nicer than having it attached to the home.

There are a number of things to remember when building a carport though and something that may influence even this very first and very basic decision of whether to go attached or free standing is your local council’s building rules and regulations.  We look at these in our next installment of Building a Carport.  It is important in Australia to fully consider these before you finalise a decision on design.

What does your carport look like?

Next you will need to consider how you want your carport to look and again there are many different options and alternatives.  The best way of scouting for a design you like is to take a photo of the front of your house.  Then with it in front of you go to google images and type in ‘carport’ this will bring you loads of options.

If you find one you like consider how it would look on your home, would it suit the design of you home?  Is it in keeping with the street? Does it have the basic elements that you need?

Remember that you can change the colour and the materials used, you are just looking to create an idea file at this stage.  When driving around, do the same thing, most of the best ideas for an Australian carport will be found in your surrounding neighbourhood.

What next?

You now should have a preference for whether you want a free standing or attached carport.  You should also have an idea about the design of the carport.  So now you need to measure up the area and ensure that you have ample room to fit your carport in and then it is time to start enquiring about your local council restrictions and requirements.

We’ll go through those with you tomorrow.  In the meantime remember that you can get all your building tools from the DIY Bargain Bin.  Check out the Garden Sheds, Barns and Carports section for kits.