Can you build a deck frame for your deck? If you are a home handyman or DIY person, then yes, you can install your own deck. We can teach you how to build a deck frame. But, if you are not so experienced, you might prefer to hire an experienced installer

Let’s see what is involved with the basics when it comes to how to build a frame for your deck – and you can decide for yourself.

Know What You Want

It’s pretty obvious, but the decking options available are myriad, with very different price points, benefits, and warranties.  You get what you pay for, so realise that the cheap deck you have your eye on possibly comes with an inadequate warranty and a short lifetime of ongoing maintenance. Building a deck frame is similar whether you choose timber of composite deck. If you need a help to decide, read this article first: Composite Vs. Natural Timber Decking: Pros & Cons.

If you would rather relax on your deck instead of having to do regular maintenance on it, a composite deck, like NewTechWood, for example, might be the answer. 


The next step is to make a plan.  This plan will not only help you know what you need and have all the materials and tools needed for the construction ready, but it will also keep you on track so nothing important is overlooked, and if you need council approval, they will want to see your plan.  Having a design plan will also ensure you make the most of the available space and help you determine the best deck shape for the area. 

Consider: are you going to have a timber deck frame or an aluminium decking frame

If you choose timber, ensure you use something that has been treated for termites, like structurally treated pine but. However, even with treated timber, a timber deck frame will not last as long as an aluminium frame. Aluminium frames work wonderfully with composite decking for those who truly want many years of maintenance-free deck ownership.  Aluminium is also non-combustible and thus perfect for fire-prone areas.  Among other benefits, NewTechWood composite decking is rated BAL29 and is ideally partnered with aluminium for similar fire-rated areas. 

StructurAL Aluminium Decking Subframe

Will you construct this frame yourself from scratch, or use an established decking base frame kit, like StructurAl, for example?  

StructurAl is a complete deck frame system for the construction of low-height decks over solid surfaces: all components are designed to work together for a simple and efficient deck installation and offer strong, rot-proof, ultra-lightweight durability in all weather conditions.

Whether you are an experienced installer or not, the use of a framing system can make the project quicker and easier to complete and cost savings can be achieved. Don’t take our word for it, you can see for yourself with the StructurAL video.

In short, a plan will help you avoid mistakes and waste – material, time and money.


In Australia, many structures added to your property require local council approval to build, as well as needing to meet building standards.  Depending on the size and placement of your deck, the state you live in and your Council, you may or may not be required to submit plans for approval.  A quick phone call to your local Council will answer this for you if your installer/builder does not already know.  Don’t take the risk of building without first checking because Councils will make you remove works that required permission and were not pre-approved.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

Setting it Out

Inexperience = hire a professional OR read the manufacturer’s installation instructions before beginning. 

  • Measure and mark out your deck using pegs and string.  When measuring, you also need to take into account the thickness of your decking boards, the joists and the bearers to work out the height of your deck.
  • Use string lines to run around the perimeter of your planned deck.  Make sure everything at this stage is level and square to your house. Make use of a spirit level.
  • Work out how far each stump needs to be positioned and mark the spot for later easy identification when you start digging the holes. Installers often spraypaint the area to mark it for easier identification.
  • If necessary, make sure any vegetation and excess earth is removed from within the marked area.  Decks require space between the ground and the boards for air circulation.  Check the manufacturer’s installation instructions for this information.  With NewTechWood,  the installation guidelines recommend leaving a clearance of 300mm if over grass or dirt, and 40-50mm if over concrete.  If using a deck framing system like StructurAL combined with Nivo Pedestals, a low deck height is also achievable, for example, a deck floor from 78mm (to the underside of the decking profile).

Installation – how to build a frame for your deck from scratch

Build timber deck frame
Photo Credit: Amos Carpentry

Time to grab the shovel, because next comes the installation of the stumps and bearers.  Start with the perimeter. Again, these need to be level and square because the bearers are what your joists and ultimately, your decking boards will be resting on and attached to.  These ‘basics’ must be right. Use string lines to keep stumps straight. 

You should use a product like Postcrete as opposed to cement to secure the stumps in place. Postcrete is a ready-to-use blend of concrete ingredients that sets in much less time and is ready to use from the packet.

Tip: slope the concrete downwards from the stump to enable water runoff.

Once the stumps are in and set, you can backfill the holes with soil and fix your bearers on top of them.  Take care with this part – these beams are the main load-bearing elements of your deck.

  • Install the Joists.  Joists are the horizontal pieces of wood that are attached to the beams and make up the deck frame.  You will read about joists being “on centre” – this is the centre-to-centre measurement from one joist to another. Prior to this you should have determined the joist distance required for your particular deck board, i.e. 300 mm or 450 mm.  You must get this right or your warranty may be affected.
  • Use a joist tape – This black protective tape is used to protect your deck’s substructure from moisture, and being dark, also makes the joists “invisible” when viewed from above.
  • Lay Your Deck.  Are you top fixing your deck or if you have chosen composite, have you decided to utilise a hidden fix system?  This means the fixings are hidden between the boards, leaving the top of the deck neat and clean.  NewTechWood, for example, uses the Cobra T-clip to hold the deck boards in place, but you don’t see these once installed. Note that with composites there are special requirements for top fixing and this information is available in the installation guide.
  • If your deck boards need cutting, cut them according to the guidelines for your particular decking.  All boards, including natural timber, but more so with composites due to the inclusion of plastic content, will expand and contract.  The manufacturer’s guidelines will tell you how much space to leave between butt joins.  With composites that expand and contract more than natural timber, it is common to use breaker boards which will not only allow for this contraction/expansion but minimalise its appearance.  Otherwise, line the first board up and secure it in place, and continue until complete.

Now you have your deck frame. What’s next?

This is a very simplified picture of what you can expect to be doing.  Do you have the courage to try it yourself?  After reading this instruction on how to build a deck frame, the next step is to find one of the NewTechWood resellers listed here who can sell you everything you need for your project. 

How to build a deck frame

And you can also contact our friendly team for installation advice as well as download the installation guidelines and view some how-to videos on our website.

On the other hand, if you have decided to let the professionals do it, you can find our recommended NewTechWood installers listed here

Note that any qualified installer can install your deck, and they all should know how to build a deck frame. But if they are not familiar with your deck of choice, especially composite decks, like NewTechWood, make sure they read the manufacturer’s installation guidelines before they start.

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