Get on deck

The brainwave of carpenter Pete Haas, Decktec is an innovative decking system and joist protector in one that gets your decks down straight – and fast.

Photo: Charli Marden Photography, courtesy Animal Carpentry


Laura Valic

For decades outdoor decking has proven hugely popular in Australian housing no matter the style, adding the finishing touches to backyards and pool surrounds, or extending a home’s footprint for seamless indoor outdoor transitioning. From traditional hardwoods to low-maintenance composite materials, anti-slip or high-performance coatings, the options for personalising these outdoor spaces has evolved over the years, but their construction method remained virtually unchanged. To lay a straight deck with a quality finish is still labour intensive and time consuming. 
Just ask HIA member and experienced ‘chippy’ Pete Haas from NSW, who has completed countless decking jobs over the years. Frustrated with the lack of innovation in this laborious process, Pete went on a quest to design a more efficient method and came up with an ingenious solution – a strip that preserves the substructure while enabling a fast and accurate method for laying out your decking boards. 
Known as Decktec, the strip features alternate removable spacers that neatly saddles the joists before the decking boards are positioned. The product gives you the advantage of quick installation and correct alignment, while reducing the chances of binding and cupping. 
‘Decktec is a deck spacing assembler and joist protector in one,’ Pete explains. ‘It’s a pre-set out jig for laying your boards. The removable spacer has offset semi-circles that will accept reasonable variation in board width, while the fixed spacer has a 1mm ridge that will penetrate a board and allow for swelling without the risk of binding and cupping.’
Decktec is a deck spacing assembler and joist protector in one
Photo: Decking Sydney
Builders and trades, such as Animal Carpentry pictured above, have discovered the solution for their residential or commercial contracts
Photo: Charli Marden Photography, courtesy Animal Carpentry
After knocking up a prototype on a 3D printer some years back, Pete met up with friend Steve Byrnes at a local pub in Newcastle, and decided to bring the model along to get another point of view. While Steve says his background is in business management outside of the building industry, he could immediately see the potential of the innovation. 

‘We did our research and found there wasn’t anything else like it in the market,’ Steve says. ‘It’s just one of those things where people obviously thought there must be a better way but Pete was the one to pioneer it.’  

The challenge then was translating the breakthrough concept into a marketable and practical product. The end result is a durable 1.2-metre strip, featuring the alternating fixed and removable spacers, which is available in three sizes for 86mm, 90mm and 140mm decking boards. Steve says Decktec is manufactured right here in Sydney under ISO9001 Quality Assurance from 100 per cent recycled polypropylene. 

‘We looked carefully into what the market would prefer in terms of quantity as well as size, and distribute in both six-packs and cartons. Decktec works out to be around $15-16 a square metre.’ 

Even though Decktec has only been available for a short time, its profile has grown rapidly as builders and trades have discovered the solution for their residential or commercial contracts, including mixed use developments, resorts and schools. Impressed by Decktec’s consistency and accuracy as a spacer, Delanty Brothers Construction also recently utilised the nifty system to construct a 24m long x 2.1m high fence.

HIA member offer

To mark the launch of Decktec’s new online shop, the company is offering HIA members an exclusive 20 per cent discount on their first order. To take advantage, use code HIA20 at the checkout and have your HIA member number ready to complete the transaction. Offer valid until 31 July 2020. 
Visit here
‘Everyone we’ve heard from who has used Decktec said they love it,’ Pete says.

And for good reason. To begin with, you only need a single set out for your entire job: ‘Traditionally, you’d run a string line every five to 10 boards to make sure you’re keeping a straight line and not running off,’ he explains. ‘Now you have one string line or laser at the beginning and that’s it, you can then put it away.’ 

Another advantage for trades is the time you save completing a project since Decktec enables multiple people to lay boards simultaneously. ‘You can put as many people on the deck as you like,’ Pete adds. ‘If you have 100 square metres and had enough manpower – skilled or unskilled – to do that in a day, well now you can; with dead accuracy and 100 per cent confidence you’re going to have a perfect finish.’

Once the strips are laid out and fixed to the joists, you lay boards down either side of the removable spacers in pairs. The fixed spacers will keep your deck straight and ‘enable you to pop a bent board in’, holding it in place until you fix it off with screws. The removable spacers feature hollowed centres which ‘allow you to chalk a line from the front to the back of the deck, ensuring perfectly straight screw lines’. Once you have fixed off, you can simply pull out the removable spacer with pliers.
decking decktec

Melbourne building firm Animal Carpentry recently undertook a large-scale school refurbishment in Torquay, Victoria, which included a 450-square metre deck (pictured). The business chose Decktec Decking System for its speed and precision to complete the project.

Photo: Charli Marden Photography, courtesy Animal Carpentry

Decktec enables multiple people to lay boards simultaneously.
Photo: Charli Marden Photography, courtesy Animal Carpentry
Delanty Brothers Construction utilised the nifty system to construct a 24m long x 2.1m high fence.
Photo courtesy Delanty Brothers Construction
In a big moment for the new brand, all of these innovative benefits were recently recognised when Decktec won the 2019 HIA Hunter Industry & Product Innovation award. 
‘It’s very exciting to be recognised by HIA and for the building industry’s biggest governing body to judge Decktec to be the best innovative product on the market,’ Steve says. ‘Since then we’ve worked on the release of a 135mm to accommodate the wide Australian hardwood boards, which will be available to market in August 2020.’
Decktec is currently stocked in more than 150 retailers in Australia, a number that continues to grow organically, as the system gains exposure in the field. It has also been well received in New Zealand, with Steve anticipating they will be in more than 100 stores over the Tasman by the end of 2020. 
‘For the past four years we have worked really hard to get the prototype Pete made in his garage off the ground and now we’re in more than 200 hardware stores in the Asia-Pacific region.’ 
And while the impact of COVID-19 meant they couldn’t attend a trade show in Las Vegas to secure a US and Canadian distributor, the business has still managed to forge ahead in other ways, launching its online store in June (see text box above). 
‘Through social media the innovation is becoming more exposed,’ Steve says. ‘We’ve had a lot of interest from countries in Africa, Asia and South America, so it’s really only a matter of time before we take this great Australian invention to all the corners of the world.’ 

Tech talk for tradies

Decktec makes decking jobs easier and faster, but the product also has a range of other benefits for building crews:
  • One single set out for your first row
  • Multiple people can work on a job at the same time from any direction
  • Less time on the job means less time spent kneeling
  • Removable spacer: the offset spacers will compress with oversize boards
  • Fixed spacer: 1mm triangular ridges allow for lateral timber expansion
  • Recessed fixing points: clouts finish flush
  • Winged edges deflect water and debris while protecting joist timbers and eliminate unsightly streak marks for elevated decks.

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