DECKED OUT

A deck can add more than just an entertaining area to your home.

Adding a deck to your home will not only provide you with an extra living space; it can increase the value of your home, too. Whether you’re thinking about selling or you want to add space for entertaining, some professional advice will go a long way.

ADDING VALUE

Clinton Skeoch from Boral Timber says a deck’s low maintenance and appeal make it a good investment. «A deck can add to the functionality and flow of a home and provide an extra living and entertaining room,» he says. «When executed to a high standard, it can contribute to a home’s overall appeal come inspection day.»

Clinton says choosing the right material for your deck will add value to your home. A common trend is to match indoor and outdoor flooring. «If part of a wider renovation, focus on Australian timbers, such as the popular blackbutt species, as this will enable you to more easily match your decking with an equivalent indoor flooring product,» he says. «Using the same timber species indoors and out creates a seamless transition throughout the home, adding aesthetic appeal. The addition of an awning or roof will make a deck an all-weather living space for maximum utility.»

Mark Smee, from Art of Living Constructions, says it’s important the materials, design and structure are sound. «It’s important that the design incorporates the existing structure, the surrounding environment and its intended use,» he says. «Consider bushfire zones, asbestos and suitable engineering.»

Matt Shutkowski from Howtodecks.com.au agrees, and advises not to build a deck with low-quality building materials. «They will be picked up in the buyer’s or valuer’s building inspection reports, especially if they do not meet the outlines of the BCA or the Australian Standards for timber decks framing, AS1684,» he explains.

When building any structure, it’s also important to keep council by-laws and developmental laws in mind. «If you choose to build without the correct approvals, it can end up costing you far more than just the local government fees you saved by not getting the approvals in the first place,» warns Matt. «The local government agency may not make you remove your deck, but may want you to change the size or even the location of the deck. As you can imagine, this could be a major cost.»

Employing a licensed and insured contractor to complete the job is the most sensible choice you can make. «A licensed professional will be knowledgeable about regulations, standards and legislation,» says Mark.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT MATERIAL

With trends and innovations in building always changing, choosing the right material for your decking is just as important as selecting the right contractor to complete the job. Without the right materials, your deck just won’t last.

Wood is the most obvious choice for an outdoor flooring material. It looks great and traditionally it’s the most popular material for this use. If cared for properly, wood will last a long time. «Australian hardwood species are an excellent choice for decking because of their high density, toughness, colour spectrum and natural beauty,» says Clinton Skeoch. «A species’ hardness level can be identified according to its Jenka rating — the higher the rating, the greater the hardness.»

If you live in a bushfire-prone area, make sure you choose a wood to suit. Clinton recommends black butt and spotted gum as they both have fire-resistant properties.

While wood has many great properties, Matt warns it is susceptible to sunlight and choosing the correct grade of wood is key to the deck’s longevity.

If you like the idea of a deck but don’t have time for the maintenance, composite materials could be the option for you. Made from moulded plastics and compounds, composite materials look almost like the real thing with next to no maintenance required.

Tiles are also a great flooring material for an outdoor deck. They are easy to clean, stand the test of time and there’s a plethora of patterns and styles to match your home. However, Matt says that waterproofing is required underneath the tiles. «If you build in under your deck, extra care needs to be taken in the construction of the floor structure to ensure high-quality waterproofing is used,» he says.

MAINTAINING YOUR DECK

Keeping a deck in good condition is not hard work, but some maintenance will be required to ensure it looks its best and lasts well into the future, particularly if you decide to install a wooden deck.

In this case, the most regular maintenance required will be to sweep and keep it free of any biodegradable matter, such as leaves. While it can be tempting to hose the deck often, Matt advises that you shouldn’t do this more than once a month.

It’s best to recoat your deck every six to 12 months, depending on its condition. «Oil finishes for timber are best and recoating should be done as regularly as twice a year, best before summer,» Mark says.

It’s also a good idea to move around any pots, furniture or other features so moisture is unable to build up.

Composite materials require less attention. Simply sweep or hose the decking as required.

Remember, solid preparation before your deck installation will ensure the longevity of your deck and will allow you to spend more time entertaining and relaxing in your new area, rather than spending time and money fixing and repairing it.

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