by Victoria Fitz-Gerald – @fixing_up_58
Having completely gutted and transformed our Victorian London terrace along with my wood-working extraordinaire husband (“Mr-58”) we consider ourselves highly experienced DIY-ers. I document our progress alongside publishing step-by-step tutorials on my social media profiles, utilising various #gifted products along the way. This time it’s Ronseal’s Decking End Grain protector and Decking Protector – both metal-packed very *can*-veniently for this decking project. I have a love for the old and a passion for reusing and recycling wherever we can, whilst making savings along the way, then sharing those ideas. For this project the Ronseal cans are easily recyclable by the way!
Let’s be honest, paying someone else to build your decking is going to be significant, so when funds don’t allow, don’t ditch your design dream, DIY it! This is a larger scale project than many of my other blogs, but trust me when I say you can DIY this. But a guide can make all the difference, so follow this and you’ll be enjoying cocktails on the deck in no time! When working with an old house nothing is ever simple or straight forward, and this project was no exception. We had to work towards some funky angles and shapes. Hopefully yours will be a little simpler… So this guide is working on the assumption that you are laying on top of a level, hard surface. Right, deep breath – you ready? Let’s build some decking!
Here’s what we used…
- Decking boards (find the suitable lengths to suit your project)
- Treated flooring joists, (ours were 2×4’s)
- Weed membrane
- Turbo coach screws, 6 x 90mm
- 64mm Decking screws
- Jigsaw (if cutting round any obstacles)
- Sander or high grit sandpaper
- Ronseal Decking End Grain protector
- Ronseal decking protector
And here’s how we did it…
STEP 1: Prep your decking area
Hopefully you’re working with a bit of a blank canvas, or even better decking over some pre-laid patio! Unfortunately for us we were working with neither… Our former patio was patchy, and our decking area was a little random shape-wise. We had to dig out some lawn, and had lots of spare paving slabs to use as hard standing for our decking to sit on. It just required some extra prep and levelling work. Assuming all this is done, design your deck, and then clean and clear the space ready to start building.
TIP: If you’re laying deck over any lawn, laser levels don’t tend to work well outdoors in daylight, so trusty string is your friend for creating straight lines. Put builders pegs into the ground and tie the string onto it, then follow the string as a guide.
STEP 2: Build the external frame
Our plan to begin with was to use joist hangers to connect the timber joists for the frame. However, we soon decided these were more effort than they were worth, so gave up on them. Especially as they required trimming due to the bulges they created on top of the joists, as pictured. So save yourself the hassle, and use Turbo Coach Screws (also pictured) to connect the wood.
If your decking is going to be longer or wider than the decking joists, you’ll need to connect two sections together by overlapping a third piece of 600mm joist offcut at the inside of the join using four well-spaced screws on each side of the join, to secure.
Once you have cut and joined the joists you are ready to assemble the frame. All cut timber will need to be retreated with Ronseal Decking End Grain Protector to help prevent any future rot. It requires two coats for full protection, so I’d suggest having a system for this. Fortunately it does dry quite quickly and you don’t need to be particularly tidy with your application so this shouldn’t slow you down too much. We just used an old paintbrush that was at the end of its life.
Do this stage in situ. All corners can be fixed together simply by screwing through the ends. If you have some corners which are difficult to access (like us, due to the house and fences) then drill and screw in at a 45 degree angle (or you can use a pocket hole jig) in order to secure the frame.
Note: If any edges are to be covered by fascia use countersunk screws for a flat finish.
STEP 3: Add internal joists
After the frame was built, we added internal joists across the inside of the frame (as shown in the photo, in RED). Again, you can connect these using screws from each end or at a 45-degree angle to secure any areas that you can’t otherwise access. The joists need to be treated with the end grain protector once cut, and to be spaced 400mm apart. If the spacing doesn’t measure up neatly add an extra joist rather than exceeding 400mm.
STEP 4: Thread and secure your membrane
At this stage we threaded the sheets of membrane underneath the frame, ensuring they were well overlapped and secured in place with scraps of spare paving slabs. This should prevent any weeds from being able to grow through. Doing it at this stage prevents it from becoming disrupted during the earlier stage of the build, but past this point it becomes more fiddly to thread it under.
STEP 5: Decking Noggins!
Well firstly, what are they?! Quite simply they’re just small pieces of wood that sit between the joists to help add stability and rigidity to the frame. Or think of them as mini joists!
Assuming you’ve gone for a consistent gap between each joist you can work out what length each noggin needs to be, and cut the required amount. Then treat them with Ronseal’s End Grain Protector. They should be spaced around 1000-1200mm apart and we staggered the positioning of each one to ensure screwing them in was nice and easy (as shown above in GREEN). You need to ensure the top of each noggin is flush with the top of the joists so that the decking boards have a flat surface to sit on. As wood moves and bends you might need to give them a good whack to get them into position if tight, or pull them in by screwing if there’s a bit of space.
By tightening them all to 400mm it helps create a tight structure and secures the frame for when the wood inevitably warps.
STEP 6: Feet… if needed.
We added feet to our frame in order to raise it to our desired height next to our bifold doors. Then we needed to level the whole deck.
Using the same timber as you’ve used for the joists, cut the required number of feet to the desired height, accounting for the height of the board and ensuring the height is consistent (unless you’re laying the decking on uneven ground). The feet need treating at both ends of the cut with the Ronseal End Grain Protector. You will need a foot at 300-400mm intervals, and to screw them into place so that they are flush with the frame at the top. Hopefully they’ll be sitting on something hard and level such as a patio, but ensure they’re on some hardstanding (i.e. a paving slab) if you’ve had to build over a previously lawned area.
Just remember, the more feet you add, the more stable the decking.
STEP 7: Wait till dusk and laser your decking till it’s level… if necessary!
As we weren’t laying over a flat space, we needed to level the whole frame, but hopefully you don’t need to spend much time on this step. In order to check the levels of the frame we waited until the sun had gone down and used the laser level. You can also use a spirit level to help with this.
We used a mixture of risers, paving slabs and treated offcuts to help level our frame out. Depending on what’s beneath your decking this can be a fairly tedious stage, but worth putting the time in now to really get as level a deck as possible.
STEP 8: The fun bit, add the decking boards! Consider a frame…
Firstly, remember that if you are adding a fascia board you need to leave an overhang to accommodate this. The boards are double sided, with a smooth side and a grooved side, so we used the smooth side for the edging to create a smart frame, as well as for the fascia.
In order to fit flush around drains, fence posts etc. we marked the cuts out and used a jigsaw to cut the board. Be sure to sand it smooth after, and then treat all cuts with Ronseal’s Decking End Grain Protector. As these boards are decorative, you’ll need to be more careful with the application than you needed to be with the joists, so that it doesn’t stain the boards.
If fitting a frame start by doing this, and cutting a mitre joint, as pictured below, on any corners for neatness. These boards can be secured in place by either screwing them directly into the frame, or, if using the smooth side of the board, you can screw in at a 45-degree angle on the side of the board, to secure it to the frame and avoid spoiling the aesthetic of the smooth board.
Use 64mm decking screws for this and the next step.
STEP 9: Board the gap
I would always suggest using the grooved side of the board to give you some traction in the cold and wet months.
Cut the boards to the appropriate length and treat them. Starting with the first board position it in place and screw into the second groove from the edge, ensuring you screw into the joists. Screw the board either end to begin with, and then work your way down screwing into each joist.
Once you have screwed the first board into place use a spacer to achieve a gap between the boards – this is to allow for the wood to expand in varying seasons. The spacer should give a gap of between 5-8mm. Make sure it’s even the whole way along the length of each board. Then secure each board in the same way as the first, screwing in the ends and then working your way down the board and screwing into each joist.
STEP 10: Treat the boards, frame and fascia
The boards are likely to have been pre-treated but it’s absolutely worth treating them with your own protector, before any dirt starts to get on the boards. We used Ronseal Decking Protector and a wide brush, but you can roller it, or spray. It gives great coverage and despite doing two coats of a sizeable decking area, we didn’t use the full 5 litre can. It’s a great product to keep hold of and retreat the boards with each year after a good jet wash.
We went for the natural option as we liked the natural colour of the boards, but you can choose the colour to your preference as there’s a great range available. And when you’re done with the cans, they are easily recyclable.
STEP 11: Feel smug that you saved a HEAP of money & created your own decking!
Pour yourself a glass of something delicious, wait for the sun and enjoy all your hard work…
For more info and a video guide on how we did this take a look at the “DIY Decking” highlight on my insta profile: @fixing_up_58