timber decking structure: to beam or not to beam?

22 Apr 2018
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United Kingdom
Perhaps an odd question, mostly I seem to stumble across two different approaches when looking at tutorials on how to build a timber decking:
A. Several posts, joists bolted to posts and decking boards laid on top of joists
B. Fewer posts, few beams bolted to posts, several joists laid at 90 degrees over beams, decking boards on top.

Of course with approach A you most likely save money on timber, however you spend more time digging holes for posts; viceversa with approach B.

Is there an obvious winner? Or does it really all depend on how cheap is labour / timber?

Specifically in our scenario, for most of the decking area we have a high clearance between ground and decking level (3 to 5 feet). Probably 25% of the area has a low clearance ( 0.5 to 2 feet) and a concrete ground. The overall area is probably 45 sqm
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Both options are perfectly fine, it really comes down to the space you have and how you want the end product to look.

Option A is perfect for decks that you want to remain close to the ground with maybe a small step. Its also useful where you don't have much clearance under a patio door etc, my deck is built like this and the majority of Decks I do are the same. It is a little difficult to get the levels and falls right depending on how its build but I have never had an issue.

Option B is a great choice if you have an elevated deck, which it sounds like you may have. Taking the time to put in some large beams correctly and getting them perfect will save you a lot of time when it comes to putting the joists down and eventually the deck boards themselves. This is also a good option if you plan on having steps or stairs or even if you need access under the deck for storage or maintenance.

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