Building a DIY deck

*This post is written in paid collaboration with Bosch Home & Garden (please see a note at the bottom of this post about the paid collaborations I will be taking on in the future).

Back in March we decided to get rid of the concrete ‘patio’ (ha!) in an attempt to spruce up our garden. I have to say that I wasn’t sold on Jules’s idea to build our own deck but having spent the last couple of weeks enjoying it I do think it was the right decision. It definitely wasn’t an easy or quick process but we were lucky enough to team up with Bosch Home & Garden so we had the right tools and as it turned out being in lockdown we had the time to get it done.

We knew having the right tools for this big DIY was going to be crucial so it was great to partner with Bosch Home & Garden.

I would like to tell you a bit about how we went about building the deck and the issues that were raised along the way as I have had so many questions about it from others wanting to build their own as well. I have also had a lot of people messaging me saying we were making a big mistake going with decking so I will try to address all of those issues too. So, before all of that let me remind you where we started in March…

Not ideal, I think we can all agree. The concrete in front of the house was crumbling, cracking, ugly and even worse it was massively sloped and shallow so we couldn’t even put a chair on it.

What size have we made the deck?

We decided to make our deck 3.6m deep. That does equate to about a third of the garden but a small deck runs the risk of not being useful as you can’t fit furniture on it, for example. We didn’t want that annoying scenario of not being able to pull your chair out properly for fear of falling off the deck or having to shuffle round each other. It felt to us that unless we made it big there wasn’t really much point in doing it.

As you can see above we planned a large deck that would take up about a third of the garden. In reality it feels exactly the right size at 3.6m as there is plenty of space for a table and chairs as well as extra space for Mimi to play or friends to mingle (or socially distance!).

How long did it take?

Getting the frame built was definitely the longest bit of the process. There were thirty 40cm deep holes to make for the posts – I’m not going to lie when I say that Jules nearly gave up at several points during that hole digging. Jules took a week off work and with the weekend I’d say it was about ten days to build the frame. We then had a big pause as the deck boards were delayed and we suddenly realised this would be the best time to get the house painted as scaffolding on top of the deck would not have been ideal. Once the deck boards arrived it took another three days to lay the boards and build the step down from the deck into the garden.

Knee pads were a must for this bit as well as a really good combi drill as there were about 600 screws needed! Bosch loaned us the Bosch AdvancedImpact 18 combi drill, which was ideal for the job as the battery lasts for ages and it was very easy to switch from drill bit to screwdriver bit. This was essential because when you’re screwing in over 600 screws being able to drill a hole and then switch to driving in the screw is so convenient. It’s also very light and manageable.

The Bosch Advanced Impact 18 combi drill was ideal for the job.

Why choose a raised deck?

My reasons for not wanting a deck were mainly aesthetic as I just love cottage gardens with lots of planting and pea shingle rather than big hard structures. However, with a big dog and young child Jules’s argument that a raised deck would give us more ‘living’ space won me over. The idea was for the deck to be an extension of the floorboards in our kitchen and living room to give the illusion of more space as well as being very practical because with no steps there is absolutely no obstacle to coming and going, taking out and bringing in toys or furniture. It’s really quite a revelation.

Above left you can see what the view out of the kitchen door was like when the concrete was removed. Whilst the concrete was coming up we used an old door to get in and out of the garden as it’s quite a big step down from the house. The new view from the kitchen door on the right is quite a lot better! With no step out it is such an easy space to use. We decided on a curved edge on this side to make the path to the side access less restricted.

Considering we have no budget to change the uPVC doors that we inherited to swanky bifolds or the like I think we’ve done a really good job of making the best of them with this raised deck as the floorboards from inside just run out onto the deck and vice versa making it feel like an extension of the living space

I don’t love the fact there is now a big raised structure when you look back at the house from the garden and I don’t love the fact that the garden is now divided into two very separate parts as a result but I hope to plant as much as possible around the base of the deck and on the fences and back wall of the house to make the divide far less obvious.

This is the completed frame before the deck boards went on and before we had the back of the house painted.

What wood did we choose?

So many of the messages that I got against having a deck were based on the fact that they become slippery and start rotting. We did a lot of research about this and the first thing we found out is that having smooth boards is much better than grooved deck boards. I know it feels counter intuitive as the grooves should provide grip but actually it is in the grooves that the water and dirt and slime collects and that is what makes them slippery and rot faster. Also the grooves are just not nice underfoot or to sit on or to look at in my opinion.

We chose these smooth deck boards made from English Larch/Douglas Fir. It is untreated wood and we’re going to keep it that way as it doesn’t technically need treatment as it is a very resinous wood. It was quite pink when it first arrived straight off the saw as it comes from the heart of the tree, which is good as that means it is strong wood, but we don’t really want to seal that colour in at this point. We would prefer to let the wood weather for a year or so by which point it will be a lot more silver and then oil it. The very last thing we want is that awful peeling seal that can happen to decks.

The second thing is that you really do need to look after a deck and the most important part of that is keeping it clean with a proper jet wash each year. I got to try out one of Bosch’s high pressure washers and not only was it very fun to use but it will be essential after the first winter when dirt has built up on the deck.

One of Bosch’s many pressure washers, the Bosch UniversalAquatak 135 was really easy to
use and very effective. I could very easily become addicted to using one of these all over the
garden for the pots, the furniture, the mud kitchen – everything!

This is the deck after a good wash down all set for furniture. We chose to do a curved edge on the left side as that is next to the path from the side access gate and having a sweeping curve opens up onto the garden.

How much did it cost?

It definitely wasn’t a cheap DIY! But, doing all the labour ourselves made it affordable for us and it really does feel like we have just created a new room for our house during the warmer months of the year so when you look at it in those terms it is a bargain. Here’ a quick run down of what we spent on the materials:

Deck boards – £680 (this included £100 delivery charge)

Timber for frame – £320

Screws – £30

Postcrete – £130

Weed matting – £30

Don’t forget to account for the tools that are needed the most important being a combi driver and mitre saw and you will need a high pressure washer to maintain the deck.

What do we still need to do?

I will show you so much more this weekend as I have now added furniture, plants, shade and of course I need to show you the painted house! It’s going to be an ongoing process to make this space as we want it and to make it fit with the garden. But for now I am thrilled with how seamlessly it fits with the interior…

Katy x

Paid collaborations on Apartment Apothecary:

In light of what I’ve learnt about systemic racism and the lack of diversity in the interiors industry going forward I want to work with companies who are committed to including black people and other people of colour on their campaigns as well as paying them equally. This is crucial if progress is to be made.

I am publishing a blog post today that is a paid collaboration with Bosch that was supposed to go live a couple of weeks ago but we delayed it. Bosch is one of the companies for which diversity is very important.

There are so many brilliant black-owned blogs and content creators and I’m keen to support and highlight these people to my followers and the brands I work with. I will also be making it clear in my media kit, which is the first thing I send to brands when they contact me, that I will only work on inclusive campaigns and go to inclusive events from this point onwards.

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1 Comment

  1. SB
    18th June 2020 / 1:07 pm

    This is gorgeous! And so curious that it was “controversial” (hah)…I wonder if wooden decking is more of a North American thing? I’m in Canada and here everyone with a back garden has a wooden deck. Mine is also about a third of the garden too – and also rounded. I’m in a little row house and in the summer it’s like the house gets an extension! As for the wood getting slimy…it’s only been two winters but we get masses of snow and rain and I haven’t had that problem yet. My architect suggested pressure treated wood (terra brown, not the green stuff). It was $$ for sure but so far no need for upkeep.

    Thank you for committing to working with inclusive brands. This is how systemic racism is abolished. We all need to make diligent and conscious choices. 🙂

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