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Random Lengths

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  1. #1
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    Mar 2011
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    Macleod, VIC
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    Default Random Lengths

    Hi all. I have just purchased my 90x19 merbau decking in random lengths. It really does seem to be in random lengths. Quite a lot of short lengths, some medium, some long. I am wondering what the best approach is for laying. Do I start with the short's, move to the medium, then the long, or the other way around. Or do I take random selections from the stack to make the placement random? Any ideas on that the best approach is? Thanks in advance, Michael.

  2. #2
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    Sep 2009
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    sydne
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    My $0.02

    Use a quick spreadsheet and document which lengths you have.

    Measure your joist spacings and then spend an hour with a bit of paper/spreadsheet working through what would give you the largest sections remaining - in an ideal world. -

    For my deck this meant:
    1) only 1 join per full length. - (i did not want a length made up of 3 boards)
    2) dont have joins directtly next to each other. - *i tried to keep mine 4 boards apart)
    3) Things constantly changing as some of teh oards had splits/scars in the wood. be flexible - the world is not ideal

    The time taken with the documenting what i had well and truly paid for itself.

    M

  3. #3
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    Default

    I purchased 280 lineal metres of 90x19 merbau and was surprised to get mostly 4.5-5m lengths with about 1/4 of the boards being shorter at roughly 2.5m. Despite this, my deck is about 4.7 long so many of the 4.5m lengths fall just short and as a result I need to run two boards for about half the deck surface. My approach wasn't as scientific as Micmac's, but generally gives the same result by spacing out the joins in both directions. Eg, never join boards at the same point in consecutive rows and try to space out the joins evenly across the surface.

    I certainly wouldn't start with all the short lengths, then medium, then long as it will create a 'busy' effect where you started and the opposite wherever you end up. Don't sweat it too much though - after laying every 3-4 boards, stand back and view from a distance to make sure it looks nice and balanced to your eye. That's my 2c worth!

    Having said that, I have a mate in IT who when building his deck entered every length in a spreadsheet down to the mm and wrote all kinds of macros to select the next board, accounting for waste and margin of error, spacing, etc. I think it took him longer to get the spreadsheet right than the actual deck!

  4. #4
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    Mar 2011
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    Default

    Thanks guys. This is 382m lineal. 2/3rds of the deck is 5.8m, 1/3 3.8m, and a small section which is only 1.2. I'll try the idea of writing down the lengths and pre configuring it a bit.

    Quote Originally Posted by samps View Post
    Having said that, I have a mate in IT who when building his deck entered every length in a spreadsheet down to the mm and wrote all kinds of macros to select the next board, accounting for waste and margin of error, spacing, etc. I think it took him longer to get the spreadsheet right than the actual deck!
    Sweet. Any chance of getting hold of his spreadsheet?

  5. #5
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    Nov 2010
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    Melbourne
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    Default

    It was 2-3 yrs ago that he laid it according to his facebook photos, but I'll email him and find out.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2011
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    Adelaide
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    Default

    I agree with the others, but I also lay them out to match colours. I don't like darks and light next to one another, so I try and belend them as much as possible.

  7. #7
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    I found that separating the different sizes into piles gives you an instant view of what you have to work with. Then go to your joists and measure (starting from one end, or the other) where they would join. Try several combinations with the aim of trying to use the piles up evenly. This should give you several combinations to ensure you stagger your joins. Also, if possible, try not to have joins in front of a door opening out onto the deck. It will look better. I had most of my deck 10m long but the return around the side of the house was 1m wide so in this case I saved a lot of 3m lengths as I had loads of them, to cut up into 3x1m lengths. You don't need a spread sheet. Just aim to use up the piles evenly.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2006
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    Melbourne Victoria
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by michaelcb View Post
    Thanks guys. This is 382m lineal. 2/3rds of the deck is 5.8m, 1/3 3.8m, and a small section which is only 1.2. I'll try the idea of writing down the lengths and pre configuring it a bit.
    It would seem tempting to use all 3.9 for the 3.8 section and 1.2 for the small bit so there are no joins in either, but it will look odd against the large section with the joins. I would make sure you have a few joins there, to make the look flow.

    Figure out the combinations you need for each length eg 3.3 + 2.7 for the 5.8 length. Then figure out how many different combinatiosn you have of each and space them apart on the deck. (don;t forget 3.3 + 2.7 will join at a different point to 2.7 + 3.3)

    You can then lay a heap of rows (10+) loose on the deck back about a foot from the start point and see how it looks. If you are happy then start laying bringing the next row forward, cut and lay

  9. #9
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    Default

    Just skimmed this one, but I basically agree with the others. Not sure if it's mentioned, but plan for all boards to be continuous span, i.e. all boards resting on a minimum of 3 joists. Don't be tempted to use a long peice and then 'tack on' a short ~450mm single span piece on the end.

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