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Decking is a fantastic way to create stylish seating areas in the garden. Decks come in such a wide variety of sizes, styles, colours and materials. Decking does have some advantages over paving as they are much faster to install.
Patio installation requires a certain amount of ground excavation when preparing a laying base. This results in having to dispose of large amounts of soil which can be expensive.
Deck frames can be built so they hover over existing ground features. This makes them very popular providing an extra opportunity to raise seating areas for an elevated view.
Decking is relatively simple to install for DIY enthusiasts and can be very satisfying to build yourself. Hence we have listed the best tools for building decking in your garden here.
Spades are a fundamental hand tool when building garden decks. Most commonly they can be used to dig up weeds and chip off vegetation to the decks location. Spades can allow you to dig out post holes and leaver timbers into position. If you are mixing concrete mixes yourself spades are the perfect tool for filling in post holes.
Shovels can be effective for loading up loose aggregates for concreting around support posts and support frames. These can be used to clear loose ground during digging in preparation for joisting work.
Grafts are a long digging tool with a central shaft and a small, forged spade at the end. This tool, is popular during fencing operations and perfect for thrusting deeply into the ground. They are perfect for digging out post holes loosening tough sub soil with mechanical leverage.
4. Post diggers
Post diggers are essentially two spade like tools fastened together in a scissor like formation. Their long handles and pivoting spades enable them to collect the loose soil at the base of post holes. When used in partnerships with grafts these make digging post holes very efficient.
Wheel barrows can provide a very useful accessory when building decking in the garden. These robust carts allow you to easily fill skips with ground clearance vegetation and spoil. Wheelbarrows also allow you to wheel in aggregates and concrete mixes to site.
6. Folding set square
Decks are very typically square or rectangular in shape. This means they require accurate setting out and careful measuring when building. This is so deck boards fit neatly within the perimeter of the frame with no angle cuts. Folding set squares allow you to mark out and check right angles accurately.
7. Sting line
Very often joisting timbers and decking boards can be slightly bowed due to natural variations in the timbers grain. This makes string lines a great way to both set out and check straight edges to proposed decking projects. They can also be used to set in anchor posts in a straight line for straight, vertical, steps and sides.
Having a good, sharp, hand saw to hand will enable you to tackle nimble cuts around obstacles. Handsaws are always good to have for general cutting while joisting and bracing.
9. Circular saw
Circular saws provide a fast and portable way to cut boards quickly and efficiently. These power saws also enable you to score at variable depths for bending boards and shallow notch work.
10. Chop saw
Chop saws are a much larger and stationary power tool which can deliver accurate and powerful cutting. These are extremely useful tools for larger decking projects where numerous square cuts are needed.
11. Tape measure
Tape measures allow you to set out your decking accurately so support posts and frames are positioned correctly. These also allow you to mark and cut down decking boards perfectly so edges are neat and tidy.
12. Spirit level
Spirit levels are fundamentally one of the most important tools for building garden decking. These enable you to accurately plumb in anchor posts and level joisting as you work. The straight edges of levels can help you to identify and correct bowed boards as you fix them.
13. Carpenters pencil
Building a successful deck requires accurate marking and cutting. However, building outdoor decks can be challenging with unpredictable weather and thick, external grade, timbers. Carpenters pencils are much more robust than normal pencils perfect for accurate marking.
14. Carpenters square
Joining joists to brace work and cutting deck boards neatly requires perfectly square cutting. The best way to mark out square cuts is with a carpenters square like the one below.
15. Claw hammer
Claw hammers can allow you to lever up boards which have not fixed down perfectly and tap timber into position. These hammers are also effective at taping in long wire nails for joisting and fixing in noggins.
16. Crow bar
Crow bars can be very effective at levering deck boards straight which have bowed horizontally. This is a very common issue especially with soft wood, decking boards. Crow bars are also great at forcing joisting timbers into position before fixing.
17. Extension lead
Any external timber work including decking will require the use of electric power tools. Therefore it is very important to have a consistent source of power. Most of the time the best option for this is obtaining suitable extension leads. For garden decking projects a minimum of 25metres in length is optimum.
18. Power drill
Power drills will allow you to fix wall plates to buildings where decking fits tightly against the home. These drills are also effective at fixing heavy amounts of joisting work or with particularly bulky frames.
19. Cordless drill
For decking projects cordless drills are the go to staple, electrical, power tool. These are perfect for nimble fixing between joists and for the quick fixing down of deck boards. Cordless combi drills are useful for extra tough materials like hardwood decking. Here one drill can be used for pilot holes while the other can be used for fixing.
20. Drill bit set
Building decking requires a lot of drilling, screwing and fixing across a range of durable materials. Hence it is always useful to have a full set of drill bits and fixing attachments to hand. This can allow for organised working and the mitigation of any drill bit breakages during the project.
Thank you for reading our article on best tools to build decking. If you are starting your very own landscaping project why not check out our resources page?
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Paul Nicolaides has over 30 years of recreational gardening and 20 years of professional landscaping experience. He has worked for landscape contractors including design and build practices across London and the South East. In 2006 he qualified with a BA Hons degree and post graduate diploma in Landscape Architecture. In 2009 he founded Ecospaces an ecological landscaping practice which aims to improve social cohesion and reduce climate change through landscaping. In 2016 he founded Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners which designs and builds gardens across Buckinghamshire and the South East. This blog aims to provide easy problem solving information to its audience and encourage others to take up the joy of landscaping and gardening.