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Installing an outdoor deck can seem like a fairly simple and straightforward building project. A deck close to ground level may not even require rails and balusters. However, before you take out your hammer and saw and start a DIY decking project, there are some things you need to consider.

Council Approval for Decking

The first thing you'll need to think about is if you need council approval. Go to and choose the Decking category. Scroll down until you find your state. You'll learn what licensing regulations are in place in your state. If you live in NSW, for example, and the cost of materials is greater than $1000, you will need to hire a licensed builder. Odds are, if a builder is required for your decking project, you'll also need to get council approval. To be sure, also check with your local council. Aside from the cost of the project, its location, height and other factors may require you to get council approval and a licensed tradie.

Your Deck Design

The simplest type of deck to build is a flat deck, but is that the best design for your property? Have a look at our Timber Deck Design Ideas pages and you'll see examples of other deck designs that might suit your needs better. For example, you might want to install a multi-level deck or other unusual design.

You'll also see photographs of decks that have lighting installed in the decking, covered decks, detached decks and decks with built-in seating and storage. You may not want to incorporate all of the ideas you find into your deck, but a look at our photo pages will stretch your imagination. You might find a design that suits your property and lifestyle better than a simple flat deck.

Decking Materials

Your choice of timber is an important one. Read How to Choose the Best Timber for Your Decking Project to get an overview of some of the most popular decking timbers and how they are graded for durability. If you want a low-maintenance deck that looks great, look into composite decking . Composite decking is made from a mixture of waste timber and plastic (sometimes recycled). Today's composite decking is UV resistant and only requires occasion washing down with water to look its best.

What's Under Your Deck?

If you build a low deck without considering the soil conditions under it, you might end up having weeds sprouting between your decking boards before you know it. You may need to kill the weeds and take other steps to prevent weeds from growing before you lay your deck. Also be sure there are no pipes or underground cables under the ground where you plan on laying your deck. Cutting into a water or gas pipe or an electrical cable is dangerous and getting them repaired is expensive.

Draw a Plan

Draw a plan before you buy your materials. Then make a list of all the materials you'll need. You'll need to buy posts, beams, joists and decking. Your decking supplier will be able to help you choose the right materials for every part of your deck. For example, any timber that comes into contact with the ground should have a Class 1 or 2 rating for durability.

If you're handy with tools, DIY decking is doable, but don't take it lightly. Follow the steps above and ask your decking supplier for complete instructions and you can build a deck that will last for years. If you're not confident in your abilities, get quotes from decking builders . It's an investment well worth making.

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