How to lay decking on a patio

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Concrete patios can give your home a dated look. One option when considering how to give that backyard living space a face-lift is to lay wood or composite decking directly over your old concrete patio. Both products provide a softer feel and will give long-lasting wear. Wood decking is by far the most common, with treated pine leading in availability and cost. Composite decking typically requires less maintenance but can cost up to three times as much as traditional wood decking. Both products can be worked with standard tools and require similar installation techniques.

Sweep and power wash the concrete to remove any loose dirt and chipped material. Measure your patio and calculate the square footage. Buy enough material to cover the area, plus 15 per cent to compensate for waste and damage.

Lay out enough treated two-by-fours to create rows of two-by-fours across the patio perpendicular to the direction you intend to run your decking, every 16 inches. Drill a 1/4-inch pilot hole in a line down the centre of each board with holes every 24 inches. These battens will space the decking off of the patio for proper drainage.

Start along one edge and lay down a single pilot-drilled board. Drill through each pilot hole in the board with a 3/16-inch rotary mason's bit to a depth of 1/8 inch, just enough to mark the concrete for a pilot hole. Set the board aside and drill a pilot hole 1 1/2 inches deep on each mark.

Align the board with the holes in the concrete and drive a 3-inch concrete screw through each pilot hole in the board into the corresponding hole in the concrete. Run the screws in firmly to pull the boards snugly to the patio surface. Repeat the pilot hole and attachment process with every two-by-four.

Lay out your decking boards starting from one side. Drive two 1 5/8-inch treated deck screws through each decking board where it intersects with each two-by-four batten. Butt the boards end to end snugly, leaving any extra hanging off at the end to be cut later.

Space each row 1/4 inch from the row before. A wood chisel makes a convenient spacer. Continue adding rows of boards until the surface of the patio is completely covered.

Snap a straight line on any overlapping end boards with a chalk line. Cut them all off with a circular saw. Make the cut in one motion for a nice straight edge.

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