Building stairs, steel stringers maybe the answer.

building stairsWhen it comes time to building your stairs on your deck.  You are going to be faced with a few questions;  What type of stairs?  How wide to build them?  And of course, how hard are the stairs going to be to build?

You can build your stairs out of timber, as timber stairs always look great.  However there is a fair amount of work involved, what I am about to suggest is a simpler option.

I am suggesting steel stringers (stringers is the beam/support for the step treads) as you can choose any style of step tread.  Here’s why I suggest steel stringers;

  1. The step tread supports are welded in the correct location, so there is no need to work out the rise and run of your stairs.
  2. You simply bolt the stringers to the deck, making sure that you use 12mm galvanised bolts into a supporting beams, or floor joists, and not just the deck fascia alone.
  3. Connecting steel stringers to the ground is as simple as digging a small 300 x 300 x 300mm hole at the base of the stringers and concreting them in place.

Steel stringers are strong and will last just as long as timber stairs with less maintenance.  So when it comes time to building your stairs, steel stringers maybe the answer to easy stair construction.  If you would like to find out about building timber stairs, you can purchase your own copy of “Timber stair construction” from the resource shop.

How not to join a hand rail

hand railWhen installing your handrails there are few necessities that you need to keep in mind such as, minimum heights, maximum spacings for your balustrades and so on. This article we are going to look at joining lengths of handrails. In short, you never and I mean NEVER, join a handrail mid span (“span” is the distance between your posts).

Why are you not able to join handrails mid span? The “Building Code of Australia” does not allow this, as will as the Australian Standards “AS1684 Timber Framing Construction”.

What is the reasons for this? In the simplest answer, you create a weak point in the handrail. It’s like braking a stick, putting the two pieces back together, wrapping some sticky tape around the join. When try and break the stick it is only the strength in the sticky tape that holds the two pieces of stick together. This is the same with your handrail, at first the join may be strong, however over time your join will start to deteriorate much quicker than the rest of the handrail. All it will take is a few people leaning against the handrail at the same time for the join to break.

To learn how to install handrails you can purchase your own copy of one of our “how to guides” from the resource shop.

Timber wedges: Cutting the perfect wedge

timber wedges, decking wedgesWhen it comes time to install your decking boards, there is always one question that comes up. How do I cut the timber wedges?

When you cut your wedges, always cut them with the gain/along the length of the timber (in this case, an off cut of a decking board). In the picture, you can see the timber wedge on the right has been cut across the grain. You can tell this by the curved lines in the length of the timber wedge (the wedges on the left have been cut along the grain, hence no curved lines).

The reason for cutting timber wedges along the grain is due to the strength in the timber. Think of the grain in timber as a whole bunch of drinking straws that are stuck together. When you push on the ends of the straws, it takes a lot of effort/force to crush them. Now if you where to lay the straws side ways, they would be very easy to crush. This is the same for timber, hence why we always cut timber wedges along the grain. Timber wedges that are cut across the grain are very easy to beak as outlined, usually with the first hit of a hammer. To find out more, you can purchase your own copy of the “Installing decking boards” guide from the resource shop.

Privacy Screens: Giving your deck some privacy

privacy screensPrivacy screens offer you and your guests a chance to enjoy each others company with out the neighbours or the public seeing everything. Not only are privacy screens a great addition to your deck, they can also be a requirement by law. Generally speaking, you will require a privacy screen if you live on a small block (what is defined as a small block is determined by each local council), or you can see directly into an adjoining building.

When you build your privacy screen keep in mind the different minimum requirements, such as; the percentage of open space/area, the maximum opening distance in millimetres and finally the minimum height and width of your privacy screen. Most privacy screens need to be at least 1.5m high.

One last point, if you do require a privacy screen you can design these into your handrails as well. When privacy screens form part of your handrails you will also need to meet the requirements of the “Building Code of Australia, Part 3.9 Safe Movement and Access”. This section of the building code covers all the minimum requirements for all handrail systems. For “how to” information visit our resource shop and purchase any of our guides.

Timber board walk; a different garden path

timber board walkGarden paths conjure up thoughts of walking through gardens on either concrete or paver paths surrounded by gardens. How about venturing down a different path?

Mostly timber board walks are associated with city botanical gardens. How about one in your garden? All a board walk is, is a long deck that may curve around a corner or two. When building your garden path out of timber, just build it the same as you would build a timber deck.

When building a timber board walk, you have to build it to meet Australian Standard (AS1684). If you keep your board walk under 1m off the ground, the Australian Standards and the Building Code of Australia allows the use of smaller sized timber and does not require a handrail . To find out how to build your timber board walk you can purchase your own copy of our deck building guides from the resource shop.