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Find a local decking expert

    How to build a deck

    The process might be more complicated than you think

    Alex | Oneflare

    Adding a deck to your home is a great way to have a place for gathering and enjoying the outdoors. A deck can add value to your home and give you more living area. Many people choose to install a DIY deck in their home. This can be an excellent way to save money on labour. However, it often turns out to be a more complicated process than many anticipate in the beginning. 

    What do I need to do before I start building a deck?

    Some areas of Australia require local council approval for you to build your deck. Before you begin sourcing materials, there are a few things that you need to do first. 

    Research deck building standards

    The first step is to research deck standards in your area. They will differ, depending on where you live. It is best to research how to build a deck off a house before you begin any planning and approval work. 

    Take measurements and make a plan

    Next, you will need to take measurements of the deck area, home attachment, and height. Make drawings because you will need them to submit to the council for approval. 

    Apply for council approval

    Each locality has its own application and approval process. At a bare minimum, they will need to see your building plans, and you might need to pay a fee. Some local areas require periodic inspections at specific points along the building process. 

    Some of the items that council regulates on decks include the type of material that can be used, site setbacks from property lines, and construction standards. In some cases, you might need to meet special requirements in storm-prone, flood-prone, and bushfire-prone areas. They will also regulate stairs, handrails, and height. 

    A deck can extend your entertaining space / Source: Willo Green

    What materials and equipment do I need to build a deck?

    Once you have council approval, it is now time to begin serious planning on how to make a deck and the things that you will need to do the job. Here are the bare minimum tools and materials that you need to consider having on hand. 


    • Shovel
    • Hand or powered saw
    • Screwdriver or rachet set
    • Measuring taps
    • Hammer
    • T-square
    • Builder’s line
    • Electric drill and appropriate drill bits
    • Adjustable wrench 
    • Bubble Level 
    • Wooden stakes 
    • Metal paint
    • Glue
    • Nail Gun 
    • Fastener


    • 6×6 or 4×4 posts
    • Treated wood for floor joists
    • Treated band boards
    • Concrete mix
    • Carriage bolts for band board at the house
    • Carriage bolts for the beam at posts
    • Single joist hangers to attach joists to house band
    • Galvanized joist hanger nails
    • Galvanized ringed nails 
    • Galvanized screws
    • Deck boards 
    • Railing pickets
    • Railing boards
    • Stain and/or sealer

    The amounts of these materials will differ according to the size of the project. Building a deck on the ground is much easier than building a raised deck in many ways. Here are the steps of how to build a timber deck at ground level. 

    How to build a deck

    1. Set out the deck plan: This is the most important step because a mistake here can spoil the entire project. Make sure everything is level and square. Make your lines with a builder’s line and spray paint. Take your time on this step and make sure that it is right. 
    2. Install stumps and bearers: This phase creates the foundation. It must also be done correctly so that the deck will be sturdy. In some areas, you must have an inspector come out for an inspection once the holes for the stumps are dug before proceeding. When installing decking bearers and joists, Australian standards must be followed precisely. 
    3. Install joists: Next, you can begin the framing process for the deck. These are the beams that will support the decking boards. 
    4. Lay decking: This is the final part of the deck and is the part that people will see. Make sure to stagger the seams so that there are no two ends in a line. 
    5. Seal deck: The last part of the process is to stain, paint, and seal your deck so that it will last for many years to come. 

    When installing deck framing, decking bearers, and joists, Australian standards must be followed for spacing and attachment methods. 

    Contact local decking experts

    How to build a deck on concrete

    Building a deck on concrete is different from building one on the ground. Many homeowners choose to cover their concrete deck with something a little more attractive. You will need sleepers and concrete screws to attach the wood to the concrete. This will require special concrete drill bits, concrete screws, and other specialty fasteners. The posts are then attached to the sleepers, and the joists and decking are installed, just like any other deck project. 

    If you have an existing concrete patio, you can easily extend it with a wood deck to create the outdoor living space you’ve always wanted. Here are some tips on how to extend a concrete patio with a wood deck:

    1. First, measure the size of your concrete patio and calculate the size of the wood deck you want to build.
    2. Use a power washer to thoroughly clean the patio surface and allow it to dry fully before beginning construction.
    3. If the patio is not level, create a level surface by using leveling compound or installing a sleepers system.
    4. Install flashing around the patio’s perimeter to protect the wooden framing from getting wet.
    5. Begin building the deck using pressure-treated wooden beams as joists. Building on top of the concrete surface may require special care and usage of special fastening techniques to secure the wooden parts to concrete.
    6. Attach decking boards onto the joist with screws or hidden fasteners.
    7. Finally, add railings, stairs, and finishing details to complete the deck.

    Extending a concrete patio with a wood deck can create a seamless transition from indoor to outdoor living areas. Be sure to consult with a local contractor or building code for additional support and guidance on building requirements to ensure a safe and sturdy end product. With the right tools and materials, you can have the outdoor living space of your dreams in no time.

    How to build deck stairs

    There are many different methods and techniques for building stairs. You can purchase pre-cut stringers, or you can cut them yourself with a saw. One method uses a series of stacked, framed boxes that are set on top of one another. You can also cut two boards and place the stringers and footing between them. 

    The most important tip is to make sure that there is not a significant difference between the tops and bottom steps, as this can cause a tripping hazard. When the steps are finished, you might need to install a secure handrail according to your local building codes. You will also want to consider installing a rough tread for better footing. 

    A multi-level deck with stairs / Source: Mitroteam Projects

    How to hire a decking expert

    As you can see, building a deck frame is a complicated process. When it comes to deck construction guidelines, NSW and other territories have different requirements. If you do not have the skills, time, tools, and know local regulations, the process can be challenging. Many times, it is more cost-effective in the long run to hire a professional who can get the deck installation done quickly and professionally. This means that you can start enjoying your deck sooner and without the hassle. 

    Licencing and qualifications

    The person that you hire will at least have to be a licenced builder. Australia has several different classifications of builders that include commercial, restricted residential, unrestricted residential, restricted to special structures, and other classifications. In your location, you might need to hire a specific type of builder for the job. Ask to make sure that the person you hire is not only licenced but that they are familiar with your local codes and regulations. 

    Before making your decision, be sure to call several different ones for a price quote. Make sure to ask for references and to see pictures of completed projects. Make sure that you understand what is included in any quotes that you receive, and don’t forget to ask if the builder offers a warranty with their work. 

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