How to Choose the Right Deck for your Home
January 23, 2018
Adding a deck to your garden is a fantastic way to introduce visual variety. But decking doesnít just look great Ė itís a practical complement to a lawn, serving as an excellent place to host a summer barbeque, or indulge in a little solitary reading.
But even if the decision to install some decking is an easy one, youíll still have to decide between the various sorts of decking available. Read on, and weíll clarify the options!
Different Types of Decking Materials
Not so long ago, decking was just made from one material. Now, homeowners have five to choose from Ė and myriad options when it comes to shape, size and finish.
Traditional Timber Decking
Plain old timber has been around for hundreds of years, and remains an appealing option. Of course, modern timber decking isnít quite as plain as you might think Ė itís been industrially pressure-treated with a protective coating that penetrates right into the grain.
Pressure-treated timber is an affordable option in the short-term, but it requires regular treatment if itís to be properly protected against the elements. Since youíre going to be standing on your decking, this protection is even more important. Those purchasing timber decking should therefore factor the time, energy and materials required to perform this maintenance. Itís also worth considering that wood fibres are prone to warping over time, as changes in moisture, pressure and temperature cause them to relax and contract.
An alternative to traditional timber is rapidly growing in popularity. Itís called composite decking. This variety brings together a host of different materials to create a whole thatís more than the sum of its parts. Recycled plastic and wood fibres together form a material thatís highly resistant to stains and adverse weather, and that wonít split or rot in the same way that wood might. Composite decking is also low maintenance, long-lasting, and incredibly attractive.
A stone patio is a different beast altogether. Itís made entirely, as you might have guessed, from stone Ė usually sandstone, slate, or limestone. Theyíre enormous durable, and you wonít slip on them in the same way you might other surfaces. Youíll have greater scope to layout your patio, too Ė as the slabs can be arranged in pretty much any way you like.
Cost is a factor that dissuades many homeowners from opting for stone. Shipping and installing a stone patio is difficult Ė those slabs arenít exactly lightweight, after all. Also, if your garden happens to be on any kind of incline or decline, it is trickier to use stone. But we should bear in mind that stone patios donít need to be treated in the same way that traditional timber ones do, and that they look wonderful if theyíre done right. Decking has some big advantage over stone in sloping gardens.
IPE and Hardwood Decking
Naturally, not all timbers are built quite the same. The more luxurious ones deserve consideration in their own category.
The IPE tree is native to Latin America. Itís incredibly durable and resistant to insects, making it highly suited for use as a decking material. It also looks fantastic, with dense grain that can be either dead-straight or wavy.
This all comes at a price, however. Like many exotic hardwoods, the material is specialist and must be imported in relatively small quantities. Moreover, its density makes it difficult to work. Holes must be pre-drilled, and lengths must be sawn using special carbide blades, all of which adds to the cost. In addition to this, IPE also requires staining, and re-staining every few years to preserve the aesthetics.
Finally, we have poly-vinyl chloride decking, a form of plastic resin thatís ubiquitous in modern homes and gardens. Itís cheap and cheerful and can be installed with minimal effort. Whatís more, itís extremely long-lasting, and doesnít need to be maintained in the same way as timber Ė you neednít worry about staining and sanding, just hose it down and allow it to dry.
PVC decking is often designed to look just like timber. But as time goes on, itíll begin to discolour thanks to prolonged UV exposure. Moreover, a damaged section will usually require that the entire thing be replaced. For this reason, many homeowners prefer a composite deck.
What Deck Material Should I Choose
With all the options in mind, weíre still left with the question of which is best.
Composite Deck versus Wood
Modern composite decking can match its pure-timber rivals in terms of aesthetics. Moreover, it costs far less to maintain, and so those good looks are sure to last longer. Cleaning a composite deck is easy, too Ė just a couple of hours scrubbing each year is all it takes. Sanding, staining and painting are therefore tasks with which composite-deck-owners neednít concern themselves.
If youíve limited funds available, then the short-term saving presented by traditional timber might be appealing. But superior decking will tend to pay for itself in the long-term, as itíll contribute to the value of the property, and you wonít need to spend heaps on tins of wood-stain.
Composite Deck versus Stone Patio
On the face of it, a composite deck and a stone patio share many of the same advantages. Theyíre both easy to maintain, requiring just the occasional scrub with soapy water. Theyíre also both resistant to the weather, and able to stand up to heavy foot traffic.
The differences between them are obvious and mostly cosmetic. If youíd like the appearance of a high-quality wooden deck, then stone simply isnít going to cut it. Itís also worth bearing in mind the considerable expense required to ship and install dozens of stone slabs in your garden. While the composite decks of yesteryear might have something of a reputation for being ugly, their modern descendants suffer from no such problem Ė theyíre reliably beautiful, easy to install, and can be maintained with just a few hours each year.
If your garden is on and incline or a decline, then composite deck is far more flexible than any other material. Decking from the property wall is the easiest and most aesthetically pleasing solution. This gives the effect that the deck flows out from property and helps to expand your living space, particularly if you have bi-fold doors. This design often includes a couple of steps down to the garden area. These can be built using the same decking boards as your deck, completing the look for a grand finish. Underneath the deck can also be used as storage space.
The sort of decking you choose will depend on the makeup of your existing property, your budget, and, of course, your personal taste. Obviously, we highly recommend composite decking, but if youíre still unsure which material will make the best match for your garden, then donít hesitate to contact us.