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How to build a deck: 5 Simple Step-by-Step Guide from Start to Finish

A deck can transform an outdoor area into a versatile living space in a relatively short period of time. Adding a deck to your home is a great way to extend entertaining space. With some tools, timber and an extra set of hands, your new deck begins here.

Estimated Time 2 Weekends

How to lay Merbau Decking Boards

Project Checklist: items that You Need

Required Materials:

  • Posts

  • Joists

  • Decking timber

  • Concrete

  • Joist hangers

  • Coach screws

  • Bracket nails

  • Decking screws and nails


  • Tape measure

  • Pencil

  • Shovel

  • Spirit level

  • Hammer or Nail gun

  • Nail punch

  • String line

  • Circular saw or hand saw

Project Steps:

  1. Planning & Measuring

  2. Laying Your Deck Bearers

  3. Assemble the Frame

  4. Laying The Decking

  5. Maintenance

1. Planning & Measuring

Use String Lines: to help ensure your posts are in a straight line.

Step 1

Choose the site for your deck. Look out for location of drains and external plumbing, because these will be hard to access once the deck is built.

Step 2

Check with local council to ensure your plans fit within building guidelines. Also make sure you're not going to interfere with any underground wiring or pipes where you plan to dig your post holes.

Step 3

Depending on your yard's slope and drainage you may need to laying some Agi-Pipe or Strip Drains before you start, this will help avoid the collection of surface water.

Check with your local council on the building guidelines before starting any work.

Step 4

Mark out the width and length of your site. Take your time to ensure accurate measurements.

Dig Carefully: Check locations of underground pipes and cables before digging.

Step 5

Run string lines along the edges of your deck space. this will ensure your posts are all in line and you have a straight and level deck.

Step 6

Rip up any turf and dig your post holes along the string lines.

2. Laying Your Deck Bearers

Deck Bearers: are required for any deck that spans more than 1.8 metres

Step 1

Any deck that spans more than 1.8m will require a bearer. The bearers are solid bits of timber that bear most of the load of the deck.

Step 2

It is important to set the bearers at the correct height. Measure the decking timber plus the joist thickness down from the intended height of the deck. This will tell you where the top of your bearer should sit.

Level structure: Make sure your bearers are level.

Step 3

Check to make sure that everything is level and square.

Step 4

Fix the remaining bearers to the posts using either a framing anchor or skew nail technique. If the ends of the bearer aren't being fixed to a post, use joist hangers to fix to another surface.

You can also concrete your posts after building the frame, so you can attach the posts to the frame. The deck may be easier to level if pre-fabricating the frame.

3. Assemble the Frame

Assembling the frame: Prefabricating can be easier if you have an open and level workspace.

There are two ways you can assemble the decking frame: Pre-fabricate it or build it in place as you go along.

Pre-fabricating can make things easier if you have an open and level working space and it can makes your workflow a bit quicker.

Double check that your frame is level before securing the frame.

For extra strength in your frame, you should add timber noggings between the joists. Just use off cuts that have been trimmed to fit.

If setting your posts after laying your frame, you can use offcuts of timber to temporarily brace the frame to make it easier to get the whole frame level.

Leave an overhang: This makes it easier to finish the edge of the decking.

4. Laying the Decking

Step 1

Beginning at one end, lay decking across the joists, nailing to each joist with two galvanised nails. Alternatively this can be done with galvanised screws. Ensure this is done carefully as this is the most visible part of the deck.

Step 2

Lay the decking with an overhang as this will make it easier to finish the edge.

Step 3

Use pieces of wood or a bullet head nail as a spacer to ensure a neat and consistent finish.

Spacing the boards: Use a bullet head nail or piece of wood to ensure a consistent finish.

Step 4

Always make sure your decking joins/cuts are over the top of a joist.

Step 5

When fixing your decking, if you're using nails use a nail punch to get the nails below the timber surface. Always pre-drill your decking boards as this will prevent the decking from splitting.

Step 6

Use a saw to trim the excess wood from the decking. Mark this out with a string line if you need to.

Lay your decking reeded side down. This lets it breathe when sitting on the joist and helps prevent warping and rot.

5. Maintenance

Enjoy your new deck! Just dont forget the regular maintenance if your stain or oil your deck.

Most timbers left to age naturally will turn to a silver grey colour over about 12 months, so consider painting or staining. For more information on how to care for your new deck, check out our guide on how to maintain a deck. You will need decking oils, brushes and rollers if you intend on staining your deck.

Talk to a decking specialist

Ligneum provides timber decking to many decking builders, landscapers and carpenters throughout Melbourne, Victoria. Contact an experienced Ligneum decking expert for more information if you need help finding appropriate decking products.

Important - Please Read

All information and tips in this blog are of a general nature only and We do not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information and tips in this blog. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for expert advice. We advise you to always consult an experienced and qualified person when undertaking jobs of this kind (including consulting a qualified tradesperson such as an electrician or plumber where relevant expert services are required). You should also consider any safety precautions that may be necessary when undertaking the work described in this blog (including wearing any necessary safety equipment such as safety glasses, goggles or ear protectors or hard hats). The information and tips in this blog are provided on the basis that excludes all liability for any loss or damage which is suffered or incurred (including, but not limited to, indirect and consequential loss or damage and whether or not such loss or damage could have been foreseen) for any personal injury or damage to property whatsoever resulting from the use of the information and tips in this blog. We also note that there may be laws, regulations or by-laws with which you must comply when undertaking the work described in this publication. You should obtain all necessary permissions and permits from council and/or any other relevant statutory body or authority before carrying out any work.

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