Building a Deck – Designer Tips on Decking Construction

Decking has become a popular solution to maximizing outdoor living space. With constant exposure to the environment, decking needs to be able to withstand all external conditions including fire hazards, insect damage, the sun, rain and windy conditions. When designing a deck you must factor in all of the local conditions in your area and select decking materials that will provide superior strength, longevity and dimensional stability.

There are a number of different materials that can be used for a deck's frame and covering.

Lets start with the Frame …

Primarily there are two choices for decking frames – steel of timber. Most steel frames combine of colorbond steel bearers, joints and reinforced steel posts. Steel frame decking is quick to install and ideal for using in fire hazard areas. Timber frames can include timber for bearers, joists and posts or a combination of timber frame with steel posts. If selecting a timber frame for your deck then there is a choice of either hardwood or softwood such as treated pine.

Decking Materials

With the deck covering you can use a number of different hardwoods such as Merbau, Tallow wood, Ironbark and more. Hardwood is naturally more durable and resistant to insect damage and is the strongest choice in timber decking. Treated pine can also be used as decking material. The most common sizes of timber boards used for decking construction are 70mm, 90mm and 140mm.

An alternative to timber decking is 'compressed fibro sheeting' which then gets tiled over. The compressed fibro sheeting with tiles is one of my favorites because the finished product looks like a concrete slab but without the high costs. This method works best with steel frames and posts as they allow much less movement than timber. A compressed fibro deck if built correctly will last for over 30 years.


There are many styles of handrails to complement your deck including tubular (pool fence type), stainless steel wires, glass or timber. The most popular style tends to be tubular because it is cost effective, looks great and is maintenance free.


If your deck is elevated or requires stair access then just like deck construction, there are a number of different materials available for stairs. Including a steel welded stringer with timber treads, or a full set of hardwood or treated pine stairs.

Timber decking is ideal for sloping barriers, to cover old concrete patios or as an alternative to paving. Timber decking can be built at the same level as your existing floors to facilitate a smooth transition from indoors to outdoors. When designing a timber or steel frame deck remember that north facing decks are the best positioned to receive the winter sun and summer shade.


Do not forget to protect timber decks with a quality timber finish such as decking oil or timber stain.