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FAQ's

Questions:-

When do I need planning permissions when installing a deck?
When do building control regulations apply?
Is timber decking environmentally friendly?
How long will my decking last?
Do I get warranty on my decking?
Doesn't a deck attract rats?
Will my deck be safe to walk on after it gets wet?
My garden is sloping, can I still have a deck?
Can I put lights in my deck?
Can I put a hot tub on my deck?
Do I need a balustrade?
Can I install a deck myself or do I need an experienced fitter?
Where can I get information on installing a deck?
Do I need special fixings for my deck?
Why are there gaps between boards?

1. When do I need planning permissions when installing a deck?
You need to take into account build regulations when installing a deck and whether or not they apply to the structure you wish to build. In some cases, you will need planning permissions before going ahead with a build, be it a terrace, patio; or deck installation. Note: For any property other than a house, planning permissions will always be required.

Circumstances where planning permissions are required:
i) When deck or other is within 20 metres of a motorway
ii) If the structure is more than 30cm above ground
iii) If the build (plus other extensions) covers more than 50 percent of the garden area
iv) If the structure is intrusive/an invasion of privacy
v) If the platform is attached to a listed building (meaning it was built before 1700's)
vi) If it is in a conservation area or National Park Your deck or garden structure should be proportionate to the size of your property and garden in accordance to point three above. Neighbour objections are the biggest reason for building proposals being restricted or refused; so make sure to discuss your plans with your neighbours if you feel the structure could directly affect them. Also discuss with the Local Authority planning office.

2. When do building control regulations apply?
For every structure that requires planning permission, you should assume that building regulations apply. Property owners should check that planning regulations do not apply to their proposed structure, with the exception of ground level decks.

3. Is timber decking environmentally friendly?
Timber decking is the most sustainable building product available on the market. Whilst living, trees absorb carbon dioxide. They take from it what they need (carbon) and release oxygen as a by-product. A wood product i.e. Timber decking can be recycled at the end of its life. Trees, through the process of photosynthesis, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. From this, they extract the carbon, storing it within them and emit a large amount of oxygen as a bi product and only a small amount of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a pollutant and contributes to climate change; so the more carbon trees remove from the atmosphere the better. A large amount of carbon is required to make new woods; so young forests emit far less carbon than they absorb. Near 50% of a trees' dry weight is carbon.

Roughly 80% of timber is imported from Scandinavia, Russian and other surrounding countries as these regions are colder and therefore the wood growing in the forests are of better quality as they produce less knots. Around 15% of imported timber comes from deciduous forests which grow in Europe and in North America, leaving 3% of timber which is imported from tropical regions but this wood has far demand and is therefore valued at less.

European forests are growing at a rate of approximately 9,250km2 annually, equivalent to the size of Cyprus. However deforestation occurs on a large scale worldwide at around 13 million hectares in the last decade. That's 1.3 million hectares (13,000km2) being deforested annually by man (for profitable uses such as palm oil production) or by natural causes i.e. Forest fires.

Illegal logging also contributes to deforestation and is a problem for the international wood trade. It occurs in highly corrupted countries where forest regulation systems are highly dysfunctional. Many species lose their homes and people experience a loss of income. It can destroy communities.

There are many certification systems in place worldwide to insure that forests maintain sustainability. A forest branded with a certificate i.e. FSC means that it abides by certification standards. Forest managers will push to manage their forest operations to these standards as companies buying raw materials want their products to carry this label, making it a more desirable choice for the end user. Two major international frameworks have evolved to oversee and promote development of forest certification. These are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), based in Germany, and the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) headquartered in Geneva.

4. How long will my decking last?
  Naturally durable species of wood should be used in the construction of a deck to insure a longer life span. It is also acceptable to use pre-treated varieties. Note: Only grade 4 treated wood should be used as structural supports. Decking should offer a 15 year service life as a minimum.

5. Do I get warranty on my decking?
  Not all suppliers offer a durability performance warranty, so it is very important to seek product warranties with a minimum of 15 years protection against fungal decay and insect attack. As a rule of thumb a 15 year warranty should provide a 20 year service life. Read warranty documents carefully and seek product warranties that are underwritten by a third party, such as the industrial chemical suppliers. Note that the vast majority of preservative pre-treated decking available in the U.K. needs re-sealing with an end grain preservative after cutting, notching or boring and its use is nearly always a stipulation the warranty.

6. Doesn't a deck attract rats?
  Of all the possible places for rats to set up home, underneath a properly installed deck is one of the most inhospitable of places. This is because a sterile area is created before construction using a weed-suppressing sheet held in place with a layer of gravel. Because a gap is left between deckboards to help drain the surface dripping rainwater does not make for a dry, secure home. A small pea, let alone sufficient food to feed a single rat, could not find its way through this gap. As with the underside of garden sheds, precautions should also be taken to prevent leaves and other windblown litter accumulating by using boards, trellis, lattice or close-mesh wire netting. If you compost your waste food then it is best to use an enclosed/covered composter rather than an open heap which do tend to attract vermin.

The majority of rats in this country live within the sewage system, they are no problem if the sewage pipes are in good condition as they cannot escape from the system. Some rat populations live above the ground especially in the countryside and generally are no problem to the public. Rats will come into gardens and houses for a number of reasons. Firstly, if the pipes which carry sewage away from your property are damaged or broken then rats may escape. Secondly, rats are always on the look out for food, and if you leave food out for birds, foxes and hedgehogs or place it on open compost heaps, then this may attract rats on to your property.

The following tips will reduce the chances of having rats establish themselves in your garden:

     
  • When feeding birds use a bird table or a hanging net, and ensure that any food that fallsto the ground is cleared away.        
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  • Don't leave food for foxes or other wildlife lying around on the ground in your garden, the food that you leave amounts to only a small percentage of their total intake and they are unlikely to starve if you don't feed them.     Ensure that dog and cat food is not left unattended and remove the bowls for cleaning as soon as they are empty.  
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  • Clean away spillages of food from rabbit, guinea pig, bird and pet cages and where possible ensure that they are raised off the ground by at least 8" and positioned on a hard surface, this will enable you to clean under them thoroughly.      
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  • Do not put meat or other non-vegetable/fruit food waste on to compost heaps and where possible use a properly designed composting unit.      
  • Out-buildings and sheds should be constructed and manufactured so that rats cannot gain access, particular attention should be paid to any gaps around the door.      
  • Ensure that gardens do not become overgrown or allow rubbish to build up eg old mattresses and furniture, as this will provide cover for rats to live under.      
  • Make sure that vegetation is not allowed to grow or dead leaves and litter accumulate under low level garden decks.

7. Will my deck be safe to walk on after it gets wet?
Yes but a poorly maintained deck can become a slip hazard in wet conditions.
The key factor in preventing slipperiness is to ensure that the deck surface is kept clean and surface deposits such as mildew, algae and fine mosses are kept at bay for it is these deposits that cause slipperiness on any surface, even stone flags, in wet weather.
Decked surfaces should be brushed with a stiff broom frequently to keep the build up of organic matter (such as leaves) to a minimum and to give them a thorough clean once a year in spring or autumn using either a power spray washer or a proprietary deck cleaning product.

8. My garden is sloping, can I still have a deck?
Decking is an ideal solution for sloping gardens. The manner of construction (ground mounted posts supporting a sub-frame raft) means slopes can be eradicated quickly and cost effectively without the need to build heavy foundations or excavate large quantities of soil.

9. Can I put lights in my deck?
Yes, there are large number systems available the most popular being small up lighters that are recessed into the top surface of the boards.

10. Can I put a hot tub on my deck?
To support the weight of a hot tub when full, the deck will need to be purpose designed by a structural engineer. The structure must be built from stress graded timber appropriate to your build. Contact a specialist builder if your intentions are as above.

11. Do I need a balustrade?
Balustrades are a decorative deck feature and are also designed as a safety barrier and/or support for less able bodied persons. If the deck is not flush with the ground then some sort of decorative piece should be used to prevent a fall i.e. a parapet or edge protection detail. If the structure is very low then a decorative rail or bench may be all that is needed.
The height of the parapet depends on how far the deck surface is off the ground: For "low-level" decks up to 600mm from ground level - parapet height should be 900mm For "high-level" decks over 600mm high - parapet height should be 1100mm Parapets used as safety barriers should meet the UK building regulations in its construction and design.

12. Can I install a deck myself or do I need an experienced fitter?
Once you know how, you can install a deck (see point 13). However, for maximum safety and a more durable structure it is advisable you seek someone who is experienced in deck installations. Building anything more challenging than a deck designed for domestic living is not recommended. In these situations a skilled builder is required. Such situations are: High level deck, commercial deck area, deck with load requirements and deck that must meet U.K regulation requirements.

13. Where can I get information on installing a deck?
For information on planning and installing a deck click on the menu link above, or alternatively request a free guide

14. Do I need special fixings for my deck?
When building an outdoor structure you will require fixings that are resistant to corrosion to prevent the structure from weakening over time. Stainless steel fixings don't react with oxygen in the air and therefore do not rust. Asides looking nicer, this also means they will hold out better than any other metal. As an alternate method, you could use hot dipped galvanised or high quality coated carbon steel fixings. Screws have more advantageous qualities over nails as they are secure and are easier to remove when lifting deck boards, making the structure accessible from underneath to perform maintenance. Screws should be 2.5 times the thickness of the boards you are using. Bolts, joist hangers and concealed deck clips should also be made of similar rust resistant metal.

15. Why are there gaps between boards?
Swelling or expansion during condition change must be accounted for when installing a deck. Therefore boards should be placed approximately 6-8mm from one another (dependent on the moisture content at the time when decking is placed). This also allows for water runoff and prevents the accumulation of dirt between boards. Wider boards are affected more by weather change than narrower boards; so board size should also be taken into account.