The difference between rusted and gal bolts.

gal boltsYour first question may well be, “What is gal?” Gal is short for galvanising, and galvanising is the protective coating that stops steel from rusting. The most common coating that is used is zinc; zinc is a metal that is more reactive than steel and because of this the zinc rusts/corrodes before the steel does.

When it comes to your deck, it is fairly obvious that we will want to use galvanised bolts, due to the fact that decks are external constructions, which are exposed to the elements. Not only do your bolts have to withstand the weather, they also need to tolerate any cleaning that occurs over the lifespan of the deck.

How do you tell the difference between a galvanised and a non-galvanised bolt? Galvanised bolts have a dull grey look about them, as you can see in the photo. A trap that you will need to look out for when purchasing your bolts is that a lot of ““bright” bolts (bolts that have a shiny metal finish) are marketed as being zinc coated, which they are. However the zinc coating used is so thin that it offers no protection against rusting. When buying or placing your order for bolts, always insist on galvanised bolts rather than zinc-coated bolts and this should avoid the problem.

If you would like to learn more about deck building, check out our other great articles in the “Articles” section.

Considerations for a ceiling or exposed roof rafters.

ceilingWhen you are designing your deck you will have to make a decision about what type of roof you want. Do you want to have the clean and tidy look of a ceiling? You may want to match the ceiling outside to the one that is inside your home. Or do you prefer exposed rafters? Exposed rafters are where you can see all the framework that forms the roof.

Before you jump into choosing what type of roof you want, there are a few considerations that you will need to take into account. According to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) a deck is considered to be part of the living area of a home and hence needs to meet the same energy efficiencies as the rest of your house.

Depending on where you live, these requirements can become quite cumbersome, and may include installing insulation in the deck roof or installing ceiling fans. Although these energy efficiencies may sometimes seem quite significant, they make a considerable difference to the amount of time you will be able to enjoy your deck, in terms of being insulated from the weather.

So what style of roof to choose? This will depend on the requirements of the BCA. When you are talking with your deck designer, this is one aspect of the deck design you will need to get right, as it will affect your deck building application.

For further reading, check out the numerous articles in our “Articles” section or from the “Resource Shop”.

When to recoat your deck?

recoat deckWithout a shadow of doubt the biggest problem with decks is neglect. And the biggest area of neglect is the deck coating whether it be coated in a stain, oils or even paint. So when is a good time to recoat your deck?

Every deck will vary slightly, for example a deck with a roof cover will need less recoats as it is protected from the elements than an uncovered deck. How do you know when to recoat? In the photo to the right you can see that there are patches of grey showing through the brown paint, this is a perfect example of when the deck needs to be coated. This is the perfect time, as you have gotten the maximum life out of the previous coat and you haven’t left it to long where you need to have serve maintenance work completed. As you can see the paint has been worn away in areas but the majority of the deck coating is still intact.

Special attention needs to paid to decks that are around pools and spas as the need to be recoated is far more regular than unprotected decks as the chlorine causes significant damage to decking finishes as well as the decking boards themselves. At very minimum decks really should be recoated once a year.

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Why would you cantilever floor joists?

cantilevered floor joistFirst, what is a cantilevered floor joist? Cantilevered floor joists are floor joists that extend past the supporting beam creating an overhang. In the photo to the left you can see the floor joists overhang the edge of the deck, or cantilevered past the edge of the deck.

Why cantilever floor joists? There are two main reasons for cantilevering floor joists. The first reason is for styling and looks. For example, the overhanging floor joist are shaped to form a feature on the deck. In the photo the floor joist have had the end of the floor joists cut on an angle, which creates a feature.

The second reason is to increase the size of the deck. All floor joists can be cantilevered, the size of the cantilever/overhang will depend on the size of the floor joists used. An example of this is in the photo where the post that continues up past the handrail supports the roof. In normal situations this would ordinarily be the edge of the deck. However by cantilevering the floor joists out past the roof support post, the deck designer was able to increase the floor size of the deck in a cheap and effective way.

To find out how to build your deck with simple easy to follow steps, simple go to the “resource shop” where you will find the information you are looking for.

Stainless steel wire balustrading, the laws are changing.

stainless steel wireFor a few years now, wire balustrades have been in the sights of the Australian Building Regulators, for reform and potential removal from Australian buildings. The predominant reason for this, is that children climb horizontal wire balustrading, which creates the potential for them to get hurt.

In the Building Code of Australia there is a term called, “fit for purpose” which means that any part of a building will function without problems for the purpose that it was designed. With your handrails, their purpose is to “stop people from falling off your deck”. Horizontal wire balustrades have a problem, even if they are built to exactly what is required by the Australian Standards and the Building Code of Australia, wire balustrading do not stop children from climbing over them, which is a requirement of the term “fit for purpose” for handrails. Currently nothing has been done about clearing up this grey area or outlining the responsibility if someone was to get hurt. However for this reason, the building regulators are looking to reform wire balustrading regulations and requirements.

So what does this mean for you and your deck? Any deck that is 1m or more above ground needs to have handrails in place. If you are looking to use wire balustrades for your deck, make sure you check with your deck designer and/or local building authority for the current building requirements or you could find yourself getting into trouble.

To find more information about deck building you can visit our “Articles” page on this website or visit our “Resource shop“.