Tools for Composite Deck Building
Tools and safety gear are all important but always start by measuring and planning your composite deck.
Building a new decked area? Any construction project calls for some basic tools that make life easier.
This checklist can help you decide whether you can save money on a do-it-yourself effort. Its advisable to do your research first however, as you may not need all of these tools, you will also need to ensure health and safety recommendations are adhered to.
If you’re starting from scratch or you’re a brand new homeowner who wants to take on home improvement project, these tools will come in handy for future projects – but of course its always worth checking with friends and neighbours if you can borrow tools (this will save you money). Some of these tools may not be necessary for your deck project. Not every deck project requires working with cement, for example.
This set of basic tools will get you started when deck building. There are few more things you will need that are illustrated in the sections below. Click on any image to find out more.
- Assorted screwdrivers
- Pencil and Sharpie
- Tape measure
- Fine toothed hand saw
- Spirit level
- Angle measuring tools
Buy a big tape measure. Get a good one – you will be doing a lot of measuring. Tip: The hook at the end of your tape measure is meant to be loose! Why? When you butt the end of the tape against a wall for an inside measurement, the hook compresses by the width of the hook itself. Or, when you hook it onto something for an outside measurement, it expands by the width of the hook. This then compensates for an inside or outside measurement so you read off the correct length on your tape. Not a lot of people know that.
Fine toothed hand saw. Get a good one. You will use this in many aspects of your deck build (not all of us want to use power saws). Choose a finer toothed saw and it will be easy to cut with. It does take a little longer but the cut is easier to control and has a better finish. Sand after cutting for a cleaner edge.
Cutting angles? Illustrated here are a few wood working tools that can be very useful. From the top, clockwise: Rafter Square – very useful for marking off angles and finding 90 and 45 degrees. An adjustable carpenters square is great for measuring and scribing a square edge. A bevel square can be locked off at a given angle and then transferred to another decking board.
Safety is often overlooked when working on DIY projects at home. We can’t stress enough how important it is to get some basic gear for your protection. Our recommended minimum requirements are safety glasses or goggles, a dust mask, sturdy footwear and a first aid kit. Click on any image to find out more.
- Safety eyewear
- Dust mask
- Safety boots or shoes
- First aid kit
- Ear plugs or defenders
- High visibility vest
- Safety gloves
Power tools do speed up the process of deck fitting. You might already have some in your tool vault. Keep in mind that power tools can be bought quite cheaply but you get what you pay for. If you think you’re going to use them again then spend a little more on a mid range tool (Makita, DeWalt, Bosch and Lidl/Parkside all make good entry level tools). It goes without saying that you should take care with power tools, especially power saws. Click on any image to find out more.
- Cordless drill (18v is ideal)
- Power drill bit / screwdriver set
- Orbital sander
- Corded jigsaw
- Chop or mitre saw
- Circular saw
- Extension reel
An 18v cordless drill / driver is the perfect choice for fitting your composite decking. It will have enough power to drill into most masonry or concrete and can also be used for screwing down boards. Go for a drill with a hammer action which will drill masonry far more effectively. Spare battery? Yes, of course. You will need to charge one battery whilst you use the other. Finally, buy a good quality set of drill bits and driver bits. These are often the weak point in this activity. Invest an extra few pounds (dollars, euros etc.) and you won’t regret it.
You may think that a chop saw or mitre saw is a little extravagant for a decking project. Thing is, it will make your life much easier when cutting lots of boards – set and chop! Another excellent feature is the ability to cut precision angles. Hire one for the weekend if you don’t think you’ll use it again. If hiring then ensure the saw has a sharp blade (ask at your local hire shop or store).
DECKING AND ACCESSORIES
Finally, you will need your decking and ancillary items for securing, building and finishing. Click on any image to find out more.
- Composite decking of your choice
- T clips and screws
- Composite joists
- Trims and caps
- Joist nails (optional)
- Rawl plugs (or concrete anchors)
- A basic plan with measurements
Make a plan! Always have some basic measurements to refer to and a sketch of your deck layout. Okay so the illustration here is basic but it gives you an idea. What is very important is to calculate how many boards you will require and take into consideration the T-clips which add extra space for expansion and contraction between the boards. Doing this will avoid the nasty surprise of a very slim board at the end of your deck.
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