No matter which way you cut it, a composite deck is going to enhance the outdoor living area of your home. Whether you live in a block of units, a suburban house, or on a rural property, a composite deck will give you lovely alfresco afternoons for years to come.
The level at which your deck is situated won’t really matter. Most people are extremely happy to have them installed at a ground level. But there are those who contend that a deck is best enjoyed from a height.
That’s why, in this article, we give you the lowdown on how to install a composite deck over a balcony. Let’s elevate that platform of yours so you can enjoy the view from a vantage point, while relaxing on your favorite deck-chair!
But before we get started…
If you’re hoping to mount a deck over a tiled balcony, there is a high probability that the subfloor beneath your tiles has already been waterproofed.
Technically, you can install your deck straight over the top of it, but we would advise against it. The reason for this is that it’s a bad idea to bore into a slab in order to secure your battens down as it may compromise the integrity of your waterproofing, and lead to waterlogging and other irreversible damage to the balcony’s structural features, which is something you’ll want to avoid at all costs.
In order to prevent this, we will explain how to install your decking over a balcony (tiled or not) in order to achieve the best outcome for your deck.
11 Step procedure on how to build a deck over a balcony
Whip out your tape measure and make sure you’ve got enough space between your existing flooring and the height at which you wish your deck to be installed. As a general rule, you want a clearance of at least 50mm for aluminium joists and 60mm for timber joists.
Put that tape measure to good use again. Measure the width of the decking boards you intend to slap down. You’ll probably find they’re either 19-20mm wide, as that is the factory default, but there are some broader planks that measure in at 25mm.
To ensure your deck ends up at the desired height, figure out how much you’ll need to pack it up. Typically, the thicker the joist the better, as they can span further, but you must ensure you have a minimum of 10mm clearance under the joist and the substrate.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s not the best idea to go drilling into your slab in order to fasten your joists to the concrete, as it is likely to penetrate and compromise your waterproofing.
However, you still need to be able to stop the joists from bouncing and flexing underfoot, which requires that they’re secured to something solid. This is where a builder’s Pedestal Foot will come in handy. This is a nifty device that will allow you to install joists across a surface without attaching them directly to that surface. Each Pedestal Foot can be adhesed to a hard, flat surface without the need for drilling into it. Acquire a number of these devices from your local tradies’ hardware store (or look online to find some that you’d like to use) – overorder so you don’t run out in the middle of your project, and return any leftovers (but make sure you check the outlet’s return policy before making a purchase).
Once your home from the store, figure out the intervals at which you want to lay down your joists and mark it up on the slab. A good distance to keep between each length of wood is 1.5m. You can install them closer than this, but Pedestal Feet can be expensive, so the fewer you need to buy the better.
Using your chosen outdoor grade adhesive (we recommend Sikaflex) attach the builder’s Pedestal Feet to their pre-designated spots. Make sure they’re positioned in a straight line and in the right place before putting them down. Allow the adhesive to harden so each Foot is firmly locked into place.
Once the glue has hardened, go around to each pedestal and adjust it to the desired height minus the thickness of your decking boards and joists. To make sure they’re positioned at an even level, use a laser level or a conventional 2m spirit level after you adjust each one.
Now that the Pedestals’ Feet are all level, slot your joists into place over the top of them, and screw the joists into place, ensuring they are tightened down and have no room to give.
Next, if there is any spring in the joists or battens, you need to pack in between the pedestal with plastic packers.
Apply your level to the entire framework to make sure it’s even. Check each joist individual to make sure it doesn’t bounce (you don’t want to feel like you’re walking on a trampoline when you’re using your deck).
Finally, it’s time to clad that naked framework you’ve just created with your beautiful composite decking boards, and voila! You have your elevated deck all complete.
Once you have followed the above instructions and installed your deck over that balcony of yours, it’s time to let the good times roll. Pull out some deck chairs, install a shade above your heads, put the barbecue into place and invite some friends around. It’s time to enjoy that alfresco afternoons on your perfect platform crafted from composite decking!