Preparing your deck site

Preparing your deck site
A little preparation goes a long way…

In our previous posts you’ve had a crash course on the basic construction processes involved in deck building.

Now that you’ve got the basics down you can begin the construction of the deck. But before you put your hands on any tools you need to prepare the deck site.

Dealing with wood boring Insects
Is the site where you’re planning to build your deck home to any wood boring insects? Termites are considered the most destructive family of wood borers and can potentially infest any wooden component of a deck. The most vulnerable parts are those closest to or in direct contact with the soil, such as the posts. This is especially alarming considering that the posts serve as the main foundations of a deck.

Whilst there’s a commonly held belief that termites actually live in wood, they actually make their homes in the soil. Treating the soil can eliminate a termite problem permanently. Modern treatments are environmentally friendly, only targeting termites and other wood borers and leaving other insects unharmed.

Instal drainage systems
A deck is an outdoor structure exposed to all sorts of conditions and any water that pools below your deck can potentially cause both damage and insect problems. Pools of trapped or stagnant water can become home to mosquitoes and other types of insects. Vapour from evaporating water can warp decking materials, as can constant exposure to moisture.

Running water is equally destructive. As it flows it can erode the soil beneath the deck exposing the footings. The effects might not show instantly, but soil erosion can loosen the footings leaving your deck unstable.

Establishing proper drainage before you start building will eliminate all of these problems and will make the job a lot easier.

Trees – a blessing and a curse
Trees can accentuate the look of your deck but they can potentially cause major damage, especially if they’re growing near the foundations. Roots growing under a deck can disturb the orientation of the foundations causing instability and in a worst case scenario, failure.

When building around trees proper drainage plays an extra role. Good drainage keeps the soil underneath it free from moisture and for the most part roots don’t grow in dry places. Unfortunately there are cases in which drainage can’t deal with unruly roots. The only option then is to cut the tree down, or if possible, transfer it to another place.

Reactive soils
You need to ensure that your deck is built on solid ground. You might not notice it, but soil can change orientation. Reactive soil tends to shift orientation when the moisture level changes.

A geotechnical engineer can help you discover if you have reactive soil. They have the equipment, knowledge and experience needed to test the soil. They can also recommend the ideal foundation design to ensure that your deck is not affected by the reactive soil it’s built on.

Installing pipelines and plumbing
You may not be able to afford to now, but in the future you might want to add other features to your deck, like a spa, pool, hot tub, or gas grill. Thinking ahead and installing the necessary pipelines or plumbing during the initial build will make installation effortless if and when you do decide to add new features. It’s much easier to work with what you already have than it is to plumb or renovate a finished deck.

Correctly preparing your deck site will ensure swift and successful construction, so it’s definitely a task you should invest the time, money and effort to do well.

Is your deck site ready? Have you determined the kind of preparation needed for your deck site?

In the next post we’ll be talking about the Footings and Joists for your Deck. See you then!

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