Revamp The Balcony

  • Revamp The Balcony , AFTER
  • Revamp The Balcony, BEFORE

Upgrade the boards and balustrade, then add a timber screen to overhaul a small deck. 

A timber deck is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to expand or create an outdoor living space DIY. 

Once you’ve added or extended a deck, maintenance is fairly basic, but there does come a time when the boards need more than just their annual cleaning and oiling. 

Looking after decking boards will certainly extend their lifespan but timber deteriorates over time, making replacement inevitable.

This job is easier than you may think, even if you’ve never laid decking before. The key is to measure up accurately, then lay the boards systematically, securing them to the existing joists.

Make it new

This neglected elevated deck had become a desolate and unused space. 

It was also dangerous because of the condition of the balustrading and several rotten boards. The timber decking and balustrading had to be completely removed and replaced to make the deck safe and usable.

Measure up to buy new decking, allowing for spacing between boards. 

If possible, order decking boards long enough to fit the required length without joints. Lengths up to 5.4m are readily available, but boards 6m long can often also be ordered.

For this deck, ACQ treated pine 5400 x 90 x 22mm decking boards, about $13 each, were used, and finished with exterior oil in a natural tone.

The new balustrade was built by securing 2400 x 900mm black fence panels to the timber posts. The Flat Top Protector Aluminium panels cost $59 each. 

Decking fasteners 

Timber decking boards are secured using galvanised or stainless steel screws or nails. 

For ACQ treated decking, it’s critical you use ACQ rated nails or screws. This is because ACQ timber corrodes conventional fasteners more quickly than regular treated pine or hardwood.

TIP Drill pilot holes for fasteners in hardwood decking or joists.

fasteners, handyman magazine,
Timber decking boards are secured using galvanised or stainless steel screws or nails

Installing a privacy screen 

One end of this deck lacked privacy, so a screen was built.

A frame was made from 90 x 45mm treated pine, then the slats were attached using a cordless brad nailer. 

For the slats, salvaged timber from the old deck was cleaned and cut down to size. 

To install this type of screen, it’s faster and easier to paint the slats before attaching them to the frame. 

It’s important on elevated balconies that the slats are spaced a maximum of 5mm apart, so kids can’t get their fingers or toes in the gaps, then climb the screen.

privacy screen, handyman magazine,
One end of this deck lacked privacy, so a screen was built

Lay new decking 

Step 1. Remove old boards

Start by removing the existing boards. Ideally, you want the nails or screws to come out when you lift the boards. On this deck, a wrecking bar had to be hammered under each board to loosen the nails. TIP Take care not to damage the joists.

Step 2. Paint posts

If you plan to paint, you’ll find it much easier to do this before the new decking is laid. We painted the timber balustrade posts with an exterior low-sheen paint in a charcoal shade to complement the colour of the new balustrade panels.

Step 3. Secure new boards

Working from the outside edge in, attach the boards with two fasteners at each attachment point, using
a large chisel as a spacer for even gaps. Drill pilot holes to prevent splitting. TIP When joining boards, the shortest must be secured to at least three joists.

Step 4. Install balustrade

When the new decking boards have all been secured, install the new balustrade panels. The mounting brackets come with screws for securing to metal. If securing into timber, you will need 65mm x 12g hex-head timber screws.

Step 5. Oil decking

Clean the new timber decking boards and seal with a quality decking oil, applying it with a long-handled lamb’s wool applicator pad.TIP We used Cabot’s Aquadeck, and a 10L Deck Hand Bucket, designed to make it easy to apply decking oil.

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