Decking help: odd shape area + flagstone base

Discussion in 'Landscaping and Outdoors' started by boylemeister, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. boylemeister

    boylemeister New Member

    Hi all, total newbie to decking so I was hoping for a couple of pointers to save me from making a real mess here please. I've got a small back yard with some steps going down to a basement. The steps are pretty steep with drops off both sides so I cant let my 2yr old son play out. Its hard to describe so hopefully this before / after pic helps:
    I've looked at options for blocking the access to the steps:

    1) a fence/gate straight across the width of the yard - the flagstones are floating on compressed sand and I've read that post holders would be difficult to bolt in without the stones cracking.
    Q: Are there any tricks I'm missing here to secure a gate & fence?

    2) decking first to allow for a fence on top - I was thinking of decking the two side areas and then a section across the front (u-shape deck across whole width). I can see the decking base structure will be fun to create but I think it's possible. Q: I'm assuming I just make lots of squares? The main problem I have is how to secure the decking down - flagstones don't look stable enough to bolt into & I've read that I shouldn't secure the deck to the main walls due to damp risks. Q: Are there any methods to do this safely?

    Any help here would be greatly appreciated, cheers,
  2. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    Is the only reason you'd fit the decking to have something to secure the fence on to at the front? Or do you want decking there anyways?

    If you really want a straight-forward fence and gate solution, no decking required; glue is your friend :).

    Ok, by glue I mean a really powerful, gap-filling, rubbery, easy-to-use adhesive such as 'Everbuild STIXALL' - there are alternatives from other manufacturers.

    Your fence would then consist of a bottom rail, say of treated 4x2, which will - seriously - be glued to the flagstones. Your posts come up from this and a top rail along t'top. Fill the gap with a nice lattice.

    Ok, this will not be rigid enough to prevent the fence being flexed if someone pushes on it, so the two gate posts will need bracing support struts (triangulated) going back down to the ground. Again, you'll have 4x2 down there first at right angles to the fence length and running a couple of feet backwards. Again this will be adhered to the 'stones, and the triangulated strut will go from its end up to the top of the gate post. Does that make sense?

    Fasten each end of the top hand rail to the walls at either end. So, the idea is you'll have a virtually self-supporting fence frame, glued to the flagstones :). It won't move.

    If you really want to put down decking, then the basic principle would be to run 'joists' at around 400 to 600 centres at right angles to the direction you want the decking itself to run (so probably coming away from the house wall), and then lay decking boards down on this, screwing them in place. In this case, however, the 'joists' can be pretty shallow - even 2x2s would do (so the decking it 2" off the flagstones). Use pressure-treated timber, and - hmm, hoe do we fix them down? Yep - glue the barstewards :p.

    Lay them 'dry', check the levels, get some wedges ready to fill any gaps betwixt joist and pave, and then glue and replace.

    I'd suggest you don't want to start fixing in to these flagstones - ie: drilling, screwing - but they will provide an excellent solid base for anything to want to build on top.

    Call me Mickey Mouse, but the above is simple and straight-forward, and it will work :)
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2014
    boylemeister likes this.
  3. boylemeister

    boylemeister New Member

    Wow, I'd never have imagined that there would be a glue solution for this - many thanks for this idea! The decking was just an idea to give a base as you guessed. The decking would probably brighten up the area too but I love the ease of the fence idea. Do I need supports coming forward too or is the rear one enough? Thanks again for taking the time to write all of this too! :)
  4. Mr. Handyandy

    Mr. Handyandy Screwfix Select

    No. Not glue DA. You will be only gluing down to flags that will move freely.

    4"x2" joists with decking on, all secured together for that area won't need fixing down.

    You'd want four posts along the front(two of them will be gate posts). Remove slabs where the posts will go, then concrete the posts into ground. The gate posts should line up where decking joists come out from the steps area. Those joists can further be attached to the posts. I would also remove every second slab to improve drainage and much less chance of pooling. Once all screwed together, it's enough. Finish with whatever is needed for rails and filling in your fence and gate design.

    Mr. HandyAndy - Really
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  5. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    By all means lift some slabs, dig holes, lay posts in concrete, cut the flags to surround the posts ladeelaadeedaa :p

    And by all means use 4x2 posts which will raise the whole decking a further couple of inches and cost more.

    Hmm, actually, that decking bit is probably right :oops:.

    Ok, ok, ok, Boyle, if you want decking there, then it does make sense to use its structure to also provide the fence you require. So, as Mr Ha says, 4x2 joists running out (at right angles) from the house wall, with your decking boards running widthways and screwed down. It'll all make a nice 'floating' structure sitting on the slabs, and its weight will keep it all in place.

    Then you screw your fence posts to the joist ends - you'll have remembered to have left the joists required at the posts extended out a further 4" or so - the same size as the posts - and you then place the posts against the joist sides and screw through the joists into the posts. That'll negate the need for bracing struts for the gate posts.

    Yeah, I was thinking that all along... :rolleyes:
    boylemeister likes this.
  6. Sean_ork

    Sean_ork Screwfix Select

    a nice slim section SS or galv'ed railing and gate, fixed to house wall and top of steps walls would be far less hassle, and money and ......
    boylemeister likes this.
  7. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    Yeah, that's the other thing I was thinking...

    Boyle, even if you do deck that bit of ground and put a fence/gate straight across, once you're through that gate you have a nasty drop in store.

    So why not do as Sean says and put a rail up around that drop? you could mount posts into the sides of the 'drop', and just dog-leg it around the window on the left.
    boylemeister likes this.
  8. Sean_ork

    Sean_ork Screwfix Select

    those slabs will clean up well with a good jetting, sort the pointing out and clean the paint off the rising wall

    why spend time and money to hide a perfectly suitable ground covering
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  9. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    Boyle, I've gone full circle...

    Don't you think the simplest and also the most space-saving idea would be to fit some short posts to these drop-wall sides - they only need to come up around a foot above, and a good 2' down. Bevel the ends to make them look neat. Then screw your proper fence posts to these, so the actual fence will be stepped in over the actual 'ground brickwork' you have there (which needs a darned good painting - I recommend matt black, either masonry paint or 'drive seal'...).

    A short return at each end, and gate posts.

    And a gate.

    That gives you all the space there available for 'play', instead of a partition rail with a death-drop in one half...
  10. Sean_ork

    Sean_ork Screwfix Select

    putting the kid up for adoption would save even more hassle (for decades to come)
  11. Mr. Handyandy

    Mr. Handyandy Screwfix Select

    But then, if the child plays there and does manage to scale the fencing......even bigger drop!

    Mr. HandyAndy - Really
  12. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    Barbed wire and a couple of mattresses. Jobbie jobbed.
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  13. boylemeister

    boylemeister New Member

    Hey guys - thanks so much for all of the help here. Sorry I was away from my pc for a few days there. Sean's adoption idea is sounding easy just now :)

    Devil - I like the idea of being able to fix the posts to the brickwork to create a fence.
    - the problem of what to do with the height of steps with decking was in my head.
    - Andy, I will keep an eye on that double drop thing. I intend to make it an area he plays while I'm there so as long as it stops him just dropping off the edge its perfect.

    I need to keep the restriction in width at a min tho (I bring my pushbike up these stairs when its stored away). Would the actual gate posts just be screwed to the structure I create on the side walls? This strong enough? The top step is 3" below ground so prob too small for a post - 2nd last step has ~1ft clear so prob feasible for a final support. Just simple drilling / screwing to secure all of this too?

    The whole yard is a mess and needs cleaning, bricks pointing, painting, etc but I wanted to get a plan for this bit first before tidying it up.

    Cheers again for all the advice - I'm gonna go size it up this afternoon.

    Thx!! :D
  14. Sean_ork

    Sean_ork Screwfix Select

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  15. boylemeister

    boylemeister New Member

    Cheers Sean - I think the missus would moan that the pipes "don't look nice enough"...I need a rail down another set of steps and I think these would be perfect for it too. Cheers for the suggestion!! Steve :)
  16. Sean_ork

    Sean_ork Screwfix Select

    get a quote for a set of hand wrought custom railings, that'll soon teach her to appreciate how attractive galvanised steel really is ;)
  17. boylemeister

    boylemeister New Member

    haha! yeah custom railings were her 1st suggestion - she was told where to go with those :)
    Sean_ork likes this.
  18. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    Boyle, if the 'railing' of whatever construction you choose is at least 1100mm high and has no gap in it larger than 100mm, then you've fulfilled (afaIk) the required safety measures - just as with any stairs. Yes, your child may still be somehow able to climb over this, but he could therefore do the same to any stairwell, any balcony, any safety barrier...

    Will it be strong enough? Well, yes, provided you make it strong enough.

    In other words, nothing we are suggesting here is unusual - it's typical of the way such railings are built every day.

    Simple screwing of posts? Well, yes, but you'd use something like So you need an SDS drill.

    Better still - probably - is to use threaded rod and 'resin' them in place. Yes, the 3" step is no good, and the 1' one is not much better, so you may also have to bolt down a post plate on the end of these bricks to be sure to be sure.

    I'm only suggesting wooden posts as it's easier DIY and can be made to look as nice as you want.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2014
  19. malkie129

    malkie129 Well-Known Member

    Can't see a problem mate, just lend her your tools and then tell her "You have control"...Simples. :cool:
  20. malkie129

    malkie129 Well-Known Member

    DA, never used the items that you linked to, but I swear by those masonry bolts that you drill a hole & then screw them in. I used them for my own railings into brick and they are solid as a rock.

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