I love to recycle, upcycle and repurpose; an area where homecrafts is well suited, and far more rewarding to make something than buy it.
Some years back, after decking our garden I wrote an article about how I repurposed the decking offcuts in various other DIY projects. Over ten years later, when some of that original decking has started to rot, and needed replacing, I salvaged what decking I could and repurposed it (along with fresh offcuts) in the following DIY projects:-
- Folding BBQ garden table
- Seating metal garden chairs
- Maintenance to BBQ table top
- Maintenance of compost bin
- Maintenance to wooden recycle bin
- Decking extension step
Before repurposing any salvaged decking, I first had to salvage what I could while replacing rotten decking wood on our lower decking.
The decking being replaced being the lower decking at the back of the house, which was laid 11 years ago; and although most of the wood is still good the leading edges (rain runoff) have started to rot, and the area of decking where a large blue planter stands was badly rotted.
Apart from a couple of isolated spots, which are easily treated with wood preserver, the sub-frame is still structurally sound and in good condition; therefore, I only needed to replace the decking.
Although in the British damp climate there is little I can do to prevent the decking, where the blue planter sits, from eventually rotting again; to aid rain runoff a little more, prior to relaying the decking I jacked up the far end of the sub-frame by just a further 5mm (1/5th inch) by placing plastic spacers under the sub-frame along the far end of the decking.
Preparing the Salvaged Decking
Having replaced the old decking planks on the lower decking I took the old planks to the picnic table just outside my workshop for salvaging the good wood. I then diligently checked each plank, cutting off the rotten bits to leave a stack of salvaged decking for repurposing, along with the offcuts from replacing the decking, in a number of mini-projects described below.
Folding BBQ Garden Table
This was the first, and biggest, of the mini-projects utilising offcuts and salvaged decking.
Originally the Brick BBQ was built with a couple of side tables (one either side) using patio slabs as table tops; ideal for preparing and serving food when Barbequing.
After a few years, as well as well as making the BBQ multipurpose by also using it as a cold-frame during the spring, but also I made a couple of wooden table tops out of recycled decking to slip over the patio slabs; thus making the side tables a little bit more aesthetic and a little larger. Even just a slight increase in table-top surface area is a bonus when barbequing.
So, now with a lot of salvaged decking to play with it gave me the opportunity to consider replacing the existing right-hand side table with a much larger table.
Part of the reason for considering a larger side table wasn’t just for the additional workspace when barbequing, but also to solve a storage problem by allowing a couple of metal garden chairs to slip under the table when not in use.
I could have just made a fixed larger table, so that the chairs can just slip under; but, for the sake of a little bit of extra effort, I could make it a folding table so that optionally (when the table isn’t needed) the chairs could use the space for seating. The advantage being that not only does it make better use of space but it also means that people you don’t like sitting outside in the direct sun, will have the option of shaded seating.
Quick Guide to Making the Folding Table
1. The first and most important thing to do is to:-
- Design what you want to do e.g. a simple sketch plan with basic measurements.
- Take all the required measurements; the old saying “measure twice cut once”.
- Check that you have all the materials and tools you need, including incidentals like wood glue, screws and hinges.
2. The next step is the dismantling of the old brick side table.
3. Finally, make, fit and test the folding table as follows:-
- One of the salvaged decking planks was cut to width and length to create timber for the hinge and table top support.
- Using a tape measure, pencil and spirit, mark a level line on the shed wall for fitting the batten to secure the hinges to.
- Then after drilling three pilot holes in the timber, and three corresponding holes in the wall, use a missionary drill to drill the holes in the wall.
- Place wall plugs in the drilled holes in the wall, and screw the batten securely to the wall.
- Cut the offcuts, leftover from the re-decking of the lower decking, to four equal lengths for the table top.
- Cut to size and place the battens (previously cut from the salvaged decking) across the table top and screw in place; one batten at each end, and placing one of the battens diagonally across the decking pieces for added rigidity.
- Fit the hinges to the table top, and the plastic receptacles for the leg supports.
- Screw the table top to the wall batten, and temporarily prop up while you measure and cut the removable legs; which in this case were a couple of salvaged metal tubes.
The metal tubes were originally clothes hangers rods salvaged from a wardrobe and purposed as a show rack; and then salvaged from that when I recent modified the built-in wardrobe in our bathroom.
Seating Metal Garden Chairs
A few years back, when I was helping a friend dump a load of rubbish at his local recycling centre I picked up a couple of metal garden chairs for just $7 each.
The two main problems with them are:-
- There isn’t sufficient space for storage; while I can keep one of the chairs next to the BBQ’s side table, the other one tends to get dumped by the greenhouse, blocking access to around the far side, behind the greenhouse.
- The other issue is that with the metal webbing across the seat my wife finds the chairs uncomfortable. I get the impression, that originally there was some form of removable seating that came with the chairs?
The resolution to the first issue is the replacement of the small fixed brick BBQ side table with the creation of the large folding wooden table, so that both chairs can either slip under the table or optionally sit in front of the table when it’s in the down position.
For the second issue, I decided to make a couple of seats from the offcuts and salvaged decking.
The salvaged decking is just an inch wider than the decking offcuts; so to get a perfect fit across the depth of the chairs two offcuts and one salvaged decking piece was just the size.
Making and Testing the Wooden Seating
The simple steps I took to make the seating for these metal garden chairs were as follows:-
- Place three planks of decking on the workbench, so that the underside is facing up.
- Place the two chairs on the decking, and mark around the edge of the chairs with a pencil.
- Temporarily screw a couple of scrap wood across the decking to secure the pieces together prior to cutting to shape.
- Using a jig saw to cut out the chair shape, following the pencil lines as a guide.
- As it’s for seating, I rounded off the top edges of the cut out pieces with a belt sander.
- Cut pieces of decking to length, and width using a bench saw, to create a couple of timber battens for each chair; for securing the decking seat in place from the underside.
- With the chairs upside down, and positioned over the wooden seating, use the battens to screw the seat securely in place.
- Then test for comfort and use.
Alternatively, I could have spent time drilling screw holes through the metal webbing and secured the wooden site in place that way; but I prefer working in wood and that metal, and the end result is the same.
Maintenance to BBQ Table Top
Many years back I’d made a wooden top from decking offcuts to cover the small brick side tables on either side of the BBQ; the benefits being:-
- It made the side tables a little larger, and
- I think more aesthetically pleasing.
However, the wooden table top on the left-hand side table was rotting so I disposed of it during my annual late winter bonfire on my veg plot, to clear the hedge and tree pruning’s of the season; with the burnings adding valuable potash to the garden.
Therefore, having just replaced the right-hand side brick table with a wooden folding table, I took the old decking table top from that side and placed it on the other side. The only problem was that being a mirror image it only looked aesthetically right by turning the table top 90 degrees (because of the front decorative edge); but in doing so it didn’t fit properly because the support cross beams on the underside were too far apart.
So the simple solution was to just add two new battens closer together on the underside; the battens serving two purposes:-
- They hold the decking planks together, and
- They help to provide a little ventilation underneath, and thus (in the wet British climate) helps to slow down the rate of rot.
Maintenance of Compost Bin
This was a very simple and quick task. I use compost bins in the garden because (apart from potatoes) we grow all our own organic vegetables. For one of my compost bins I use decking at the front because come the spring when I empty the compost bins it’s easy just to take the decking out one plank at time.
Obviously, with the decking wood being in constant contact with compost, and no ventilation, it does rot quicker than it normally would. So consequently last year I replaced three of the boards with some new decking; but I didn’t have quite enough.
Therefore, now that I have plenty of salvaged decking that’s long enough, I cut one of the planks to length to finish off the compost bin.
Maintenance of Recycle Box
Background & History
About 12 years ago the UK Government introduced a national policy of recycle household waste in preference to landfill; the precise details being left to each Local Government, with the caveat that the Main Government would impose fines on any Local Government (Local Authority) for using landfill above certain quotas, the fines being proportionate to the level of landfill.
Where I live is a Labour stronghold (Socialist), with a strong Green Party influence. Therefore my Local Government is naturally ‘green’ orientated; and as such have a zero domestic waste to landfill policy e.g. virtually all domestic waste is either recycled or used to create renewable energy.
The effect that policy has on me is that I can no longer just bung all our household rubbish into the dustbin for weekly collection, and landfill. For the past 12 years we’ve had to sort our recyclable rubbish into separate recycle bins, with the mains components being:
- Metal and plastics
- Paper and cardboard
- Kitchen food waste
Obviously we didn’t have room in our kitchen for all these recycle bins, and storing them outside is a bit untidy. Therefore, using decking, I made a wooden recycle box that would accommodate all the unsightly recycle bins and bags.
In my original design the leading edge of the lid overlapped the wooden recycle box, creating a lip that acted as a grip for open and closing the lid. Also, to achieve a neat fit the three cross support on the underside of the lid didn’t go the full length; with the result that after more than 10 years use the piece of decking on the leading edge of the lid was loose, and close to falling off.
The two simple steps to re-secure the lid’s leading edge were:-
- Trim off ½ inch from the front of the lid. This was done mainly to make the lid fractionally lighter, to compensate for the slight additional weight when I subsequently strengthen the lid e.g. the decking lid is quite heavy and I didn’t want to make it any heavier.
- Using some of the salvaged decking, replace the existing three cross supports with three slightly longer supports that goes the full depth of the lid; thus giving a more secure fitting on the front edge.
The end result is the lip which I trimmed back is no longer needed as the three lid cross supports all protrude to the front, causing a gap between lid and box at the front that acts as a convenient handle hole for opening and closing the lid.
Decking Extension Step
About six years back, after building our conservatory, I added decking leading out from the conservatory to our back garden. In front of the decking I placed plant potters, leaving a gap at the far end as a stepdown onto the lawn. Then about three years ago I finally treated myself to a robotic lawnmower.
The only problem is that the gap at the end of the pot planters at the end of the decking is too small for the robotic lawnmower to access; therefore I laid bricks in the ground in that area to supress weeds, and to provide a convenient step-down from the decking to the lawn. Small as it is; the effect was to create a dark and uninviting area.
So, as I had plenty of salvaged decking leftover, I saw the opportunity of converting the step-down into a proper step-off from the main decking by creating a small square of decking to fit the space, as a small extension piece to the main decking.
Quick Guide to Making the Decking Extension Step
- Measure the area to be decked.
- Cut 4 lengths of decking for the side.
- Cut short sections of decking for legs.
- Clamp up a couple of pieces of decking to create a back stop for assembling the frame.
- Using the back stop to hold the decking in place, screw the side pieces together; and repeat the process until you’ve assembled a boxed frame.
- Screw the backend of the frame into the front of the existing decking.
- Screw on the legs.
- Measure, cut and (using decking screws) screw the decking to the frame.
Recycling Around the Home
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Arthur Russ
Arthur Russ (author) from England on June 05, 2021:
Wow Liz, that’s quite innovative using plastic mushroom containers for storage organisers.
Liz Westwood from UK on June 04, 2021:
This is a fascinating article. It is extremely interesting to read about your repurposing of old decking. It makes my repurposing seem minor in comparison. The most recent was in reusing large plastic containers from mushrooms as organisers in desk drawers and also in kitchen cupboards.