DIY decking area

How to build your own decking area on a budget

Welcome aboard as I take you on a journey into the realm of DIY decking wonders. Join me as I unveil the art of crafting your very own decking haven right within your garden. In this guide, I’ll walk you through step-by-step of building a wooden decking area, sharing my step-by-step experiences with both raised floating platforms and sturdy grounded structures.

Decking area build DIY

Within this post we’ll explore two fantastic decking ideas, each thoughtfully equipped with a canopy for year-round enjoyment. Whether your landscape is uneven, sloped or paved, with determination, these ideas can fit right in, giving you the deck of your dreams without breaking the bank.

If you’re keen on saving some hard-earned cash while creating a cosy outdoor retreat, stick around. This post is geared to provide you with practical answers and insights for your DIY decking venture.

Two decking ideas

This one is a raised platform with supports fixed into the ground. It demonstrates how to build a raised deck on an uneven surface.

This decking is sat on a solid floor with a basic timber frame. It’s a guide to build a deck on concrete.

How much does it cost to build a decking area?

Each decking area was achieved for under £500, were built to last and provide an aesthetic seating area all year round.  You may also consider a composite decking board for this project but be prepared to spend extra for the longer-lasting materials. Composite decking is just as easy to work with as wood, comes in a vast variety of colours and will last a lifetime.

We managed to save a load of money on these two projects by doing it ourselves, using partially reclaimed materials, shopping around and using a cash back site like Topcashback.


As I’m going to be talking through two different builds here I will include a materials list at the end of each.  You will however need to work out exactly what you require before you get started.

DIY Decking on a Solid Surface

how to build your own decking - complete

Let’s jump into the action – this is where my DIY decking journey took off. I decided to build my decking area right over an existing patio. To get started, I carefully lifted the existing slabs, making use of the concrete foundation below as my starting point. While the concrete surface had a few bumps here and there, I easily smoothed things out using a trusty hammer and chisel. Keep in mind that this post will specifically walk you through the DIY decking portion of my project. Click here to see the veranda (canopy) step-by-step guide.

Garden Buildings Direct promo
Step 1. Ground preparation

If, like me, you’re building over an existing patio, deciding on the slabs is crucial. You can either keep or remove them, considering factors like height limitations due to door frames and garden integration. For instance, I opted to remove the slabs beneath my decking to achieve a seamless connection with porcelain tiles, ensuring they’re flush and level.

how to build your own decking - start
Step 2. Decking layout

Begin by arranging your support beams (joists) to outline the decking’s overall space. Now, consider the orientation of your decking boards – they can either face away from the house or run parallel to it. Regardless of your choice, ensure proper spacing. Utilise the provided chart to maintain appropriate gaps between each joist.

Decking board size (mm)Joist centre point span (mm) for C16 grade timber
20.5 x 95300
20 x 138400
27 x 144500
33 x 120600
How to build your own decking - frame

I selected a thinner than normal joist due to the fact that the frame was being built on a solid surface.  I used a 3×2 CLS timber joists which measure 47mm x 38mm and 2.4m long.

Step 3. Cutting the supporting frame

This is where the complexity increased a bit. Begin at one end, cutting and connecting each joist beam with an 80mm wood screw. Refer to the provided image for the proper alignment of each section. I employed a Kreg Jig to craft pocket holes for inaccessible joins due to obstructions. This ingenious technique enabled me to insert screws from the opposite side of the beam.

how to build your own decking - frame
Step 4. Weed protection

As you can see above I’ve also added the weed protection now that all the pieces of the support frame have been joined.  This probably wasn’t absolutely necessary due to there being a solid concrete base but for peace of mind I added it anyway. I also used some flashing tape along the front and side beams to protect the wood from sitting in water. This tape costs about £9.00 for 10m.

Step 5.  Checking stability

With all beams joined, I tested the frame’s stability and levelness – crucial for avoiding a creaky, unstable deck. Detecting some movement while walking along the beams, I reinforced the frame’s solidity by employing right-angled brackets. Using a masonry bit, I drilled into the concrete, inserted plastic plugs, and secured with robust screws at around 8 spots. After this, I rechecked the frame’s stability by walking across all sections, ensuring any remaining movement was addressed before moving forward.

Step 6. Adding the decking boards

You’ll require decking screws and an impact driver (though a regular drill works too). Opting for an impact driver accelerates the process. I used 10 screws per board to ensure a secure attachment and minimize shifting. Placing screws along the sides and 5 down the length, ensuring each secures to the underlying frame. As I fixed each board, I inserted 3mm spacers between them.

how to build your own decking - the boards

This allows a nice even space between each board.  When inserting each screw please ensure there are no splinters sticking out by removing them with your hand or sanding off.  These can be really nasty if walking around in bare feet.  It’s worth having a pair of knee pads when laying the boards as you’ll be moving around constantly on your knees.  I found out the hard way!

Use a jigsaw to cut around any objects. (Like my veranda supports)

Step 7.  Completing the decking surface

Repeat this process throughout the whole decking frame. You might find you have a little overhang at one end like me but this was fine.  You can always shorten a board with a table saw or circular saw if required.

Step 8. A light sand

Give the decking a light sanding to remove any splinters or rough edges.  Use a 80 grit followed by a 120 (or 200) grit on an orbital sander to give a nice finish.

Step 9. Treating your decking

It’s very important to treat your decking timber as soon as possible after completion.  This will protect it from the weather and the likelihood of rotting.  These spruce or pine decking boards can last up to 20 + years if treated correctly, treated regularly (once a year or every couple of years) and don’t have stagnant water on them.

how to build your own decking - painting

We decided to paint our decking wood with a specific decking paint from Cuprinol.  We used the Cuprinol Anti-slip decking paint – Urban Slate. Decking paint isn’t cheap but it’s well worth the investment to provide a long lasting coat for your decking.

how to build your own decking - painting
how to build your own decking - complete

So there we have it.  A simple but effective and good looking decking area.  My decking is just a straight forward rectangle shape but you may wish to go for something a little more complex with angles, railings and steps.  It depends on how confident you feel.

decking area with patio
Decking area with updated patio

Materials list

Now onto a raised deck.

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How To Build A Raised Decking Area

This was the second decking area I built in my garden.  A seating area to enjoy sunny evenings and a shaded area to enjoy during hot summer days.  It’s ideal for those of you who are building on uneven or soil surfaces. Again, I’ll just talk about the decking here but feel free to look at my veranda post to see how this covered section was achieved.

how to build your own decking

This is a picture of the finished article.  I decided to add a planter and roof to this one which really finishes it off.

Step 1.  Levelling and ground prep

Like before you should work out where you want the decking and how big it will be.  Stick to the planning permission restrictions and you’ll never have the council knocking on your door forcing you to take it down. (It does happen)

how to build your own decking - planning

This is the spot we decided to build the outdoor decking area.  It’s the spot in the garden that gets the last bit of sun for the day so you can enjoy a beverage and watch the sun go down.

Step 2.  Building the DIY decking frame

Once you’ve measured up and your materials are ready it’s time to lay out your frame.  This will allow you to visualise the deck and see what lengths of timber you’re going to need.

how to build your own decking - the frame
Step 3. Fixing decking boards

I measured and marked out the fence, aligning with the 1.8m-long decking boards. For a robust rear support, I affixed a beam to the sturdy back fence posts. Then, I designated three positions for the front supports, ensuring a 200mm setback to allow deck overhang.

Digging three holes at these points, each around 300mm x 300mm and 400mm deep, I placed 50mm of hardcore at their base. The posts were then inserted into the holes and secured with Postcrete. Using hardcore at the base aids drainage to prevent water accumulation and rot.

Position the post and pour in the Postcrete, keeping everything level with a spirit level. Postcrete, found in 12.5kg ready-to-mix bags, can be acquired from most DIY hardware stores. Mix it with water, use one bag for three posts, and prepare everything beforehand as it sets rapidly—sometimes in less than 5 minutes. While assistance is beneficial, I managed this step on my own.

How to build your own decking area
How to build your own decking

As you can see here I had two long posts and one short post at the far left side.  It doesn’t matter if each post is at different heights at this point as you can cut them to size afterwards.

Step 4.  Weed suppression

Before I fixed the frame together I laid out the weed suppression material and built on top of this.  For added protection from water I wrapped the weed material around the frame on the sides and painted the frame.  Poking a couple small holes in the bottom of the material allowed some drainage.  The frame is simply screwed to the posts at the front and back of the deck area.  You can see in the image above I also used a couple of old paving slabs to add some support.  This is only because I used smaller 3×2 support beams.  You can use thicker beams or add more support posts if you wish.

Step 5.  Complete decking boards

Once the frame is complete and secure you can now add the decking boards.  Mine were all 1.8m long so I didn’t need to cut any down.  A nice easy stick and screw.  Again I used 3mm spacers and about 8 screws per board to ensure a good solid fit.How to build your own decking

I actually miscalculated the number of boards required here and ended up 2 short of finishing.  Rather than going back to the shop to buy more I decided to use some old oak boards to build a planter at the end.

Step 6.  Decking fascia boards

On this decking I added some fascia boards round the sides to give a nice finish to the decking.  This was simply screwing the boards to the frame.

Step 7. Sanding

Sanding all the edges and gave the deck and nice smooth finish and removed any splinters from the wood where screws had been inserted.

How to build your own decking
How to build your own decking
Step 8.  Protecting your wooden decking

Painting the deck was the last step to ensure good protection from the elements.  I added about 3 coats in most areas.

So thats the finished article pretty much.  We’re just waiting on some furniture now and we’re ready for summer!

How to build your own decking
Garden Buildings Direct promo
How to build your own decking

The final job was to secure the bitumen roofing sheets to some purlins.

Materials for this deck

Tools required

To get the job done quickly you’ll need to consider purchasing the following tools if you don’t already have them.  Whilst they aren’t all essential, they will make the whole process quicker and easier and will ensure a decent finish.  I’ve included some links to some of my favourite brands should you want any recommendations. (Remember to use a cash back site before making any purchases, You’ll be amazed how quickly it all adds up.  I’ve accumulated over £400 in under 2 years)

  1. Tape measure – 8m tape measure
  2. Pencil
  3. Large spirit level – The bigger the better
  4. Drill Driver – Dewalt drill
  5. Impact driver – Dewalt drill and impact driver set
  6. Mitre saw – anything that can chop more than 120mm
  7. Hand saw – Panel saw
  8. Shovel – Or spade
  9. Bucket
  10. Trowel – Normal garden trowel for digging
  11. Workbench – Workmate

Save money

Saving money on tools and materials. If like me you like to save as much money as possible on your DIY projects then it’s worth signing up for a cashback site like Top Cashback. My wife and I have saved over £2700 in a couple of years on all our day to day spending! That’s a nice little holiday abroad for simply clicking on a cashback link.

Here’s a screenshot of my earnings to date. My wife has another £1800.

Do I need planning permission to build a decking area?

Before you get started you’ll need to ensure your decking area fits within the permitted building regulations and doesn’t require planning permission.  If you’re just going for a deck without the veranda, canopy or cover then it’s very straightforward:

  1. Raised platforms must not exceed 300mm (30cm)
  2. The total area of ground covered by the veranda must not exceed 50% of the land around the original house.
  3. If joining to an existing building it must not be wider than the building

If you are planning on adding the veranda, canopy or covered section then you must also stay within these guidelines:

  1. A maximum depth for a single storey building must not exceed 3000mm for an attached building and 4000mm for a detached building.
  2. The maximum height must not exceed 4000mm.
  3. The maximum height of the eaves within 2000mm of a boundary shall not be greater than 3000mm.
  4. No extension in front of the main elevation or side elevation fronting  a public highway.

It’s always worth checking the UK Planning Portal for guidance and advise when considering outdoor structures of any kind.

Common questions regarding decking construction:

  • Q. Can decking be laid on grass?
  • A. You can’t lay decking directly onto grass. It will need to be raised slightly so that it is not in contact with the ground. Follow the second decking area instructions above to achieve this.
  • Q. Can decking support a hot tub?
  • A. Yes, decking can support a hot tub but it will require reinforcing. The weight of a hot tub is extremely heavy and will require a very rigid frame with lots of joists spaced close together. The exact quantity and thickness will depend on the size/weight of the hot tub.
Decking area with hot tub
  • Q. Can decking be in contact with the house?
  • A. Yes, many types of decking construction include a raised platform that is fixed to the side of the house. Support joists will run along the house to aid in the support of frame.
  • Q. How far apart should decking joist be?
  • A. Please refer to this grid which will show you distances depending on the thickness of the decking boards you have selected.
Decking board sizeDistance between joist centres
20.5 x 95mm300mm
20 138mm400mm
27 x 144mm500mm
33 x 120mm600mm
  • Q. How many support posts do I need for a raised decking area?
  • A. This will depend on the size of your decking joists. Please take a look here for some usefully information.

Although there are many companies that offer decking installation in London and the rest of the UK, completing this job yourself will be far more enjoyable and rewarding. Read on to learn how to build the perfect outdoor living space. Here are the two decking options I built.

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  1. Followed your design for our pergola but want to fit a polycarbonate roof 2700mm x 3050 mm. Would mini guttering ( 76mm ) be suitable rather than normal ( 112mm ) ? Cheers.

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  6. Great job! Glad to see so much described blog about decking! Now i am thinking about decking my area on my own! Thanks a lot

  7. Hi Ben, just want to say thank you for this amazing guide. Would a non-decking paint works if budget is in mind? Any recommendation?

  8. Hi Ben, just want to say thank you for this amazing guide. Would a non-decking paint works if budget is in mind? Any recommendation?

    • Thanks Mark. Honestly I don’t know but I would not risk it. Stick with a decking paint or it’s likely the paint won’t last as long.

  9. Hi

    Appreciate the guide. What Ronseal paint did you use? How is the paint holding up now?

    • It just Ronseal she’d and fence paint. It’s holding up well because very little water actually gets to the cladding, because I went for a large overhanging roof.

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