Considering the amount of time and money that goes into home renovations and extensions, you might want to think about future-proofing your plans—as much as it's possible to do so. When it comes to deck construction, you need to consider the possibility that a nearby bushfire could be a reality in the future. Integrating some fire resistance into your deck construction can be extremely beneficial to Australian homes.
Just how fire-resistant your decking can or should be depends on your budget and the relative risk of bushfires in your local area. Although such a risk can't be precisely calculated, an entirely rural area with a high density of nearby foliage may be at more risk than a semi-rural or urban setting. When it's suggested that your risk is relatively low, you have a little more flexibility, as certain safety measures can be added to your decking regardless of its materials.
Cladding and Sheathing
At a minimum, fireproof cladding should be attached to the bases of your decking boards. Should a fire begin beneath the deck, your deck timbers will then be protected by the cladding. It will technically be possible for a spark to escape from a gap between the decking boards, but a sufficient gap between boards is still mandatory to permit drainage from above. Be sure to regularly clean the space beneath your deck to remove combustible materials. The wooden frame supporting your deck can also be protected with aluminium sheathing, which should further minimise the chance of a fire.
In addition to cladding and sheathing, homes in a location where a fire may be more likely should take additional measures when a new deck is constructed. Be sure to query the specifics of the recommended wood. Opt for a wood with a higher moisture level and density. The density of the wood plays a role in its combustibility (with less dense woods being more flammable), as does the wood's moisture levels. Whatever the wood, it should be treated with a flame retardant, which may need to be periodically reapplied as part of the deck's regular maintenance.
Finally, if you live in a relatively high-risk area for bushfires, and if your budget allows it, you may be interested in an all-steel fireproof deck. This will be constructed entirely of steel and is therefore not flammable. Be warned, there can be a considerable price difference between wooden and steel decks, and colour selection becomes critical with steel decking. The deck should be a lighter colour in order to reflect sunshine—otherwise, the deck can be uncomfortably hot underfoot.
It's impossible to totally avoid the risk of a bushfire in many parts of Australia, but by being sensible when building a new deck, you can at least minimise the impact of any local fire that might occur.
For more information about deck construction, contact a local contractor.