I built a deck ay my daughter's unit after finding inspiration on Workshop. My take on building a low-level deck was a little different from other posts because I decided to use a screw pedestal system as the bearers for the joists.
There were a number of reasons, the main being that the concrete paths and brick paving had moved over time and there was a lot of variation in the base height. It would have been a real pain using brackets bolted in the concrete path and achieving a constant level for the joists.
Another is that the pedestal system is very easy to work with and can be screwed up or down to achieve the desired height. I ended up using Buzon DPH-2 along with DPH-KIT5 joist holders. The cost was very reasonable at $5.18 for each pedestal and $1.65 for the joist holders. This pedestal has a height range of 35–53mm, but there are also other sizes to choose from. They are incredibly strong, each having a breaking load of 1460kg.
My deck is 2.1m wide and 2.7m wide so there are three pedestals on the 2.1m joists and four pedestals on the 2.7m joists. Joists are 450mm apart and the decking is Merbau 90mm x 19mm.
I miscalculated the variations in path level and in some cases I needed to raise the pedestals by using a brick paver underneath or Villaboard sandwiched between two layers of damp course.
I created two sets of steps at each end to hide the pedestals and installed Merbau screening to frame the deck. The outer top section is secured to the wall via a 100 x 150 galvanised bracket with a Dynabolt in the wall.
I applied three coats of Intergrain Ultradeck in the colour Natural. This is not a clear finish but has a brown tint to it. Before I applied the water-based oil, I prepared the deck with Diggers Rust and Stain Cleaner, which is oxalic acid and mild bleach. This is a much cheaper option than using a proprietary deck cleaner such as Intergrain Deck Prep – it's basically the same thing. Because Merbau has a high tannin content it is important to scrub the deck with the cleaner to remove excessive tannins which then result in a good finish.
I then installed a second screening panel – sunk a pole in the middle of the panel rather than the fence end so it is nice and secure.
I bought three brown-coloured treated sleepers 200mm x 50mm x 3m from Bunnings and sourced river pebbles from a local landscape supply store to create a series of steps from the front gate to the steps of the deck.
I used a long sleeper embedded in the soil on its end to create a border between the garden bed and the pebbles. Both because it is visually pleasing and will keep the pebbles in and the mulch away from the pebbles.
Before and after
How to build a low-level deck
A low-level deck can pose a range of potential design and installation problems, with particular challenges around ventilation, drainage, termites and rotting. But it doesn't have to be a difficult project once you take the time to understand the basics of how they are put together.