How to Build a Deck: 6 Simple Steps

How to Build a Deck: 6 Simple Steps


Building your own deck is a great way of transforming an outdoor area into a space perfect for entertaining. Believe it or not, it is not as hard as it seems – you can even do it yourself. All you need is timber supply, some materials and the right tools for the job. Even if you have next to no knowledge about construction, we are going to show you the six steps you need to follow to build a functional and durable deck for your backyard.

DIY Decking Benefits

What are the benefits of building your own deck besides being able to kick back and relax in your own space? Well, the most obvious benefit is the economic benefit. Hiring a professional to install your deck can be quite expensive, but if you do it yourself, you can drastically reduce the overall cost of the deck. If your decision to build a deck has been dependent on the state of your finances, then building your own deck may be the solution for you.

How to Build a Deck: 6 Simple Steps

Source: Trex Decking 

Step 1: Obtain permits if necessary

Before you start your DIY project, it is essential to find out whether you are allowed to build a deck in your area without prior council approval. To find out the rules in your area, contact your local council. Generally, projects are allowed as long as the finished product does not impinge on the privacy of your neighbours and is not too high off the ground (generally the specifications are either 900mm or 600mm).

Step 2: Planning

As with any home improvement project, planning is the most important step. If you put time and effort into planning, you are going to spare yourself from trouble later on. 

Timber vs Composite

One of the first decisions you are going to have to make is whether to build with timber deck or composite decking. If you simply want ‘the best one’, it is going to be problematic, because both materials have unique benefits that make them worthy contenders.

The traditional choice for decking is timber. It was also the only material used before the introduction of composites in the early 90s. It is generally cheaper to purchase and has great aesthetic appeal.

Composite, on the other hand, is manufactured to be resistant to things that timber can be vulnerable to – water damage, rot, insect damage and weather exposure. It requires less maintenance however, the variety of benefits will cost you. Composite is typically more expensive to purchase as a decking material than timber but with lower ongoing maintenance decking costs.

Decking Design

As we saw in our previous blog, Building a deck: plan and design decking, the best way to design your deck is to tailor it to your specific needs. This can be done by answering 4 simple questions.

How will I use it? This will heavily influence the design, as you are going to need different requirements based on the intended use of the deck. Will it be primarily used for entertaining, family dining, the pool or relaxing?

How much space? It is important for your deck design to complement your outdoor area, rather than dominate it. If you need more space, you can always use a multi-deck system or build around obstacles (i.e. trees) with curves or railings.

Sun or shade? Unless it is being used around a pool, you want your deck to be well shaded to protect yourself against the harsh Australian sun. You can do this by either making use of trees or installing a gazebo or pergola.

Have you thought about access and safety? This relates to the Permits section. Make sure you are aware of the building codes relating to access and safety. Here is a useful resource about garden safety for parents.


If you do not have any of the following tools, you will have head to a hardware store before you can start your project. The staff there will be able to assist you with the materials you need for deck construction. The good thing is that these tools will be useful for many other home DIY projects you may wish to do.

Shopping list

  • Hand or powered saw
  • Chisel
  • Measuring tape
  • Screw driver
  • Electric drill and bits
  • Spanners
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Hammer
  • Wood and metal stakes
  • Spirit level
  • Builder’s line
  • Square
  • Shovel

Step 3: Start Building

Setting out the area

There are three steps to setting out your area before you get started with the building. These steps will help you calculate the dimensions you need to make a square or rectangle deck.

  1.       Location set out – Mark out the length and position of the deck on the wall of the house with a pencil. Also, establish where the deck will go – you can create a rough layout with the timber or composite you’ll use for the deck.
  2.       Horizon set out – This step sets out the shape of deck. Measure how deep the deck will be off the ground (according to your plans) with builder’s line. Place a timber stake in the ground at corners of the deck and wrap the string after each stake.
  3.       Vertical set out – Take a long, straight piece of timber and next to the string (closest to the house) at a 90 degree angle. Find the level between the wood and the mark up on the house with a spirit level. When it is level, mark the spot on the wood and adjust the string so it is level with that mark. This will give you your vertical set out.


The construction stage is complex and would be complicated to discuss in its entirety in this post. It is best to educate yourself on how to build a deck as much as possible before you begin. There are some great articles at Family Handy Man and Mitre10 have a tutorial video on YouTube.

Step 4: Seal deck

If you are building with composites, skip this step, because one of the great things with composite decking is it does not need to be sealed. If you have opted to construct your deck from timber, you have the option to seal your deck to protect it from sun and rain. We suggest you inspect every 6-12 months and re-apply timber decking oil as required, the harsh Western Australian can take a toll on outdoor materials.

There are many types of sealing products on the market. Your timber merchant will be able to recommend the a number of options suitable for your situation.

Step 5: Structural Integrity

You may think you have built the perfect deck but for peace of mind, it is sensible to ask someone with building experience to certify that it is structurally sound. Small details can lead to overall structurally instability, so it is important to have your deck checked and approved before using it.

Step 6: Enjoy your deck

Congratulations! After all of your hard work, you have built an outdoor space that you and your family can enjoy. Now it is time to invite friends over for a BBQ, relax by the pool or stand back and admire your handy work.

Hire a decking expert

Austim provides timber & composite decking to many decking builders throughout Perth, Western Australia. If you need help finding a decking supplier, contact an experienced Austim decking specialist for more information.



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Austim are a great partner and timber supplier. Our business is based on the East Coast of Australia and we partner with Austim for WA projects. We have had a long lasting and great working relationship with Austim for many years. Highly recommend them.
daniel wright
daniel wright
06:31 18 Jun 19
Austim is always the first place I try when I need timber and it’s rare that I can’t get what I need there. Stuart is a rare gem of a gent to deal with – quick to respond to any queries, full of good advice and goes out of his way to help get whatever project I’m working on happening to my schedule, even when all I need is a few sticks and a handful of fixings. Highly recommend Austim, the team and young Stuart.
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Anni Lilford
00:51 16 Nov 18
Stuart went out of his way to make sure we got the product we wanted. He made suggestions on possible constructions and timbers suitable. Very knowledgeable friendly staff all around. Excellent experience, highly recommended.
Holger Butenschon
Holger Butenschon
05:14 22 May 18
Hi Ben,Just wanted to thankyou for your help and advice in our selection of the Millboard Vintage Oak decking also in you recommending Grant from Premier Hardwood Decking. Grant has just completed our decking and we couldn't have asked for a more professional, reliable and competent tradesman. The decking has been installed to a very high standard and the decking itself is stunning. Ian and Sue
susan smith
susan smith
06:27 08 Oct 18
I've used Austim on a few occasions for home projects like decking and pergola, etc and each time the response to my requests for price and delivery have been excellent, the deliveries took place as negotiated, the timber quality was great and value for money. The team at Austim do a great job and make dealing with Austim a breeze.
Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
09:06 25 Oct 18
I have worked with Austim for around 8 years now and they are one of the best suppliers in perth to deal with. I would highly recommend to use them for any timber needs!!!
Art of Timber
Art of Timber
07:55 05 Mar 20
I had been looking for some cedar for my kayak project and had rung a couple of other places with no luck. When I contacted Austim they were very helpful, had the timber in stock and I was on my was in 20 minutes. The wood was very good quality and has really finished up beautifully. Thanks to Austim.
mark alderson
mark alderson
02:03 08 Apr 17
I"d like to thank Austim for there help in supplying me with material that firstly I thought I'd have trouble sourcing as it was marring up with originally 30 year old existing timber.My project was not a massive project but still needed the attention of an new build.The timber supplied by Austim was machined to size with absolute perfection, where I had to remove old pieces and replace with the new pieces they fitted perfectly.once the floors are re-sanded and varnished they will be back to there former glory. Thanks again to the staff at Austim.Regards Bob Heppenstall.I've just added a finished photo after the Floor Sanding was completed.Original timber was Tassie Oak, and the new is Vic Ash, as you can see there is only a slight variation in the final product.I hope this gives anyone thinking doing the same the confidence to proceed. Regards Bob Heppenstall.
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10:05 12 Oct 18
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Colin Della Bosca
08:14 04 Jun 20
Great service and product.I struggled to find a bench top in the size and material I wanted, so was really happy when I found one with Austim.It came fully protected with wrap and was undamaged when I got it home.Thanks
Matt Harrison
Matt Harrison
06:29 08 May 23
Good selection, friendly staff, competitive pricing. Preferred over the 'hardware store'.You can hand pick if you need superior quality, Ben Price helped me with sorting through
Dirk Wachter
Dirk Wachter
03:59 12 May 23
Quick responses, timber prepared to request including cutting to Size. Easy pick up. Highly recommend.
Martyn Lethbridge
Martyn Lethbridge
06:42 05 May 23
We wanted Marri boards to make a bed - Austim provided beautiful planed and sized boards - at a good price - delivered on time......excellent service!
Mark Warren
Mark Warren
06:53 20 Aug 21
Ordered some merbau timber through austim to replace some rotten pine stair treads. The guy on the phone was very helpful .the timber was straight and had no faults or damage. Sent a message with a picture to say the timber had been delivered. Would definitely order timber from them again
Galaxie Galaxie
Galaxie Galaxie
05:25 29 Nov 23
Ron has help me out tremendously with designing and supplying two decks. Everything required to build them including screws Concreate, stirrups and timber. Service is excellent and at competitive prices.
Craig Bussanich
Craig Bussanich
01:25 06 Oct 23
Excellent service! The gentlemen that served us was so helpful and sorted out our kitchen bench top in 15 minutes! Great product!
sophie sherlock
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07:24 06 Oct 23
Wow! What amazing customer service. Ron took care of working out what I needed and guided me expertly through the product range. Invoice was raised on Wednesday afternoon and the wonderful Wade delivered my order on Friday morning. He went above and beyond what would normally be a kerbside delivery, changed the Hiab strapsTo longer ones and expertly delivered it safely over my side wall. Super impressed, he’s a keeper Austim!
Wilma Ashby
Wilma Ashby
00:10 22 Mar 24
Absolutely amazing service and knowledgeable team and specially Tim very knowledgeable and friendly and knows his stuff.
02:37 10 Jan 24
Very tidy and well laid out timber warehouse with a well stocked accessories shop. Friendly staff with great product knowledge and advice.
07:37 22 Mar 24

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