Fellow Aussie Nathan, a Trade Sales Specialist hailing from Simpson Strong-Tie Australia, DIYed a deck for his home this past year. He discusses the logistics of building a deck from the cut list to materials and shares his extensive career journey with Simpson Strong-Tie.
My name is Nathan Zalewski, and I’ve been working for Simpson Strong-Tie Australia for almost 10 years. I live in the coastal city of Wollongong one hour south of Sydney and enjoy surfing, hiking and camping in my spare time. Previous roles involved selling fasteners for several companies, but also sales roles in telecommunications and skydiving. I was invited for an interview by a Simpson Strong-Tie rep I knew from my time working at a Simpson dealer where we did joint calls together. In my time with Simpson Strong-Tie, I have been an area manager looking after the Southern NSW and ACT sales territories. My role involved managing dealers from Sydney south to the Victorian border and southwest covering Canberra also. Being part of a small team, my duties include calling on end users, specifiers and surveyors and conducting training sessions. My current title is Trade Sales Specialist, where I’m free to concentrate on builders in my territory with most of my day spent onsite demonstrating our fastening systems along with showing our connector and anchor solutions.
My wife and I recently completed a major renovation on our house, and the plan was always to build a deck that would wrap around our back patio. I’ve built a handful of decks in recent years, and the great thing about working with Simpson Strong-Tie is putting into practice what I preach to builders every day (“Building Safer, Stronger Structures”).
We laid a composite deck at our first house seven years ago, using a Simpson Strong-Tie Quik Drive® auto-feed screw driving system along with colour-match Composi-Lok™ screws. That deck turned out great, and I’ve helped my father-in-law and mates since then with their hardwood decks also. Quik Drive is a no-brainer when it comes to hardwood decking. Australia has some of the hardest species of timber in the world, and using our premium collated decking screws can halve the build time.
The early stages of my recent deck build were planned when the concrete slab was poured last year. This was to allow clearance for our deck and ensure that it would have the same level as our internal floors. We determined that using a 70 mm high joist plus 22 mm hardwood would give us the perfect height.
Our deck is basically an “L” shape around the back of our house. One side is 12 m x 3 m and the other side is 11 m x 3 m with a herringbone join in the middle. The deck has three separate sections. The side deck is a lounge area with daybed and wood-fired pizza oven. The back section has a large outdoor dining table and will soon have the built-in BBQ. The end has a hot/cold shower for rinsing off after the beach and washing our dogs.
The deck was constructed from 70 mm x 45 mm treated pine for the joists and sealed with VapourSeal tape to protect against moisture. These were fixed directly to the slab with 4″ Titen Turbo™ screws using packers to get the deck level. The decking boards were 136 mm x 22 mm Blackbutt (an Australian hardwood) and fixed to the joists with SS316 65 mm (2 1/2″) collated SSDHSD hardwood screws.
They were driven in from a standing position with a Quik Drive PRO250 cordless system and a deck spacer to get a consistent placement of screws. On the ends and joins of the decking boards, 4 mm holes were predrilled and the same screws were driven loose with a drill/driver. Various Simpson Strong-Tie Strong-Drive® SDWS screws were used in the subframe.
On the outdoor shower section 10 mm Titen HD® screw anchors were used to fix the ledger to the slab. Also on this section, LUS joist hangers and H1.81Z hurricane ties were used. All nails were installed using the CCN64 connector nailer.
The time frame to complete the deck was loose, as we took two holidays during the build — one to Hawaii and the second a “babymoon” in the Maldives— but early October was the end date as it’s a month before our first child is due. The deck’s first social event took place over the weekend with my wife’s baby shower and 30 women attending. My wife, Kimmy, has been a massive help on this project. Being pregnant at 33 weeks when we completed it last weekend, she still managed to hold boards in place, put some screws in, and sanded and oiled all the decking boards. She is an absolute legend and doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. I couldn’t have done it without her!
Since writing this blog, Nathan and his wife Kimmy have welcomed a baby boy into their family Congratulations to the new parents, and a warm welcome to the new baby!