To regulate or not to regulate

To regulate or not to regulate the way decking structures are built in the UK

There are many different ways to construct a decking platform, too many decking options to choose from but how do we build them?

Whether you choose traditional timber, HDPE or aluminium for your frame there is a standard within which they should be constructed. So the question is ” To regulate or not to regulate “.

If a gas engineer built a deck

Consider walking into a room with 100 Gas Safe Engineers and asking them a question. The question would be about performing a certain function. Assuming all of them answered honestly then their answers would all be the same. If you dig deeper and ask as to why, they would all say “That’s what we are taught in college and they are the regulations”.

If a deck was built by a Deck company, Landscaper or Builder

Consider walking into a room with 100 deck builders and asking them a question. The question would be about span tables or at what interval to place the support posts. Assuming all of them answered honestly then their answers would all be different. If you dig deeper and ask why then the answers would be just as varied. Such answers maybe “that’s the way I’ve always done it”, or  “That’s how my dad taught me, but that’s ok because he was a cabinet maker for 40 years”.

Is it time for regulation

I would suggest that’s a “YES”. There should be one common ground that all decking platforms are constructed. One that can’t be scrutinised or argued against. There should be a sensible method which details the type of timber, fixings, posts support and the like. There should also be a detailed method which when asked questions about it, the answer by everyone is the same.

Euro Code 5 decking regs
Euro Code 5 decking regs

What’s your maximum span

Lets consider a UC4 treated joist with structural grading of C24 and the dimensions are 150 x 47mm.

Assuming a joist placed within or over a beam such that the clear span of the joist is 3.32 metres, what are the support post centres along the beam? If you don’t know the exact answer or have to guess would think that there should be a definitive answer? One may also ask the question “is 3.32m too much of a span”, or “That’s too short as I normally span much more”.

The same could be said for setting out your beams or any other element of the structure.

What’s all the fuss about

The intention of a domestic decking structure is to provide a platform to support the decking. This must be to support an evenly distributed load on it, this being people. This load is calculated as 1.5kN/sqm. It must also consider the dead load of the material its constructed from and also the items on it such as BBQ, furniture and planters. This is the most important element and to ensure the structure is built to withstand this load it must be constructed in a particular fashion.

British and European Standard

Believe it or not there are strict standards promulgated in the UK and the EU. They demonstrate the calculations for span tables. These tables are for your Posts, Beams and Joist centres. So, when you follow these tables you culminate in a correctly built structure and one that you can demonstrate its intended use.

By following these tables there shouldn’t be any reason for the structure to fail.

How do I find out more

You can either purchase a copy of BS5268-7.1 at great expense and unless you recently graduated in a maths degree it would be a pointless exercise. The easiest way would be for you to enrol on a deck training course called “Decking, All you need to know”. The course is LANTRA certified and held at the TASK Training Academy.

The question

The above said and done, do you think there should be regulation for those that build decking structures?

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