Our prediction: 2019 is shaping up to be the year of the deck. After all, it’s one of the least expensive ways you can add more living space to your home is with an outdoor room. Who wouldn’t want an open-air living room? The average 200-square-foot deck costs about $7,000, according to Home Advisor. Prices can vary widely, however, depending on the flooring you choose.
IF YOU CHOOSE WOODEN DECKING, WHAT ARE THE BEST VARIETIES?
Hardwoods from teak, cedar and mahogany) have long been the go-to material for decking but, with many treated softwoods now coming with a 50-year rot-free guarantee, there are more options available.
The new generation of technical timbers is apparently better to use and cheaper to buy. Kiln-treated softwoods such as thermo-ash or pressure-treated pine will now outlast many of the more traditional options. If you opt for hardwood, always check that it’s sustainable sourced with the correct certification. Another choice is composite boards, usually made from a mix of wood and plastics, which are rot-proof and resistant to mould.
HOW SHOULD I MAINTAIN MY DECKING?
Hardwoods and technical timbers need to be well looked after if you want them to keep their original colour. Decking should be sanded and oiled annually, while occasianl jet-washing will remove any surface debris. Without this care all wood will weather down to a silver-grey patina. It’s hard to find composite boardsthat compare to the aesthetic of real timber, but the positive is that they won’t change colour like natural materials do.
ANYTHING ELSE TO CONSIDER?
Yes, the fixings. Historically, every boards were fixed in place by individual screws, but now there are hidden fixing systems that result in cleaner lines and a more seamless look. Initially, this technology relied on side-mounted clips, which you could see between each board. Now, though, there are new types of rapid-fit clip systems that conceal all of its fixings. Read more on our list of best-paving companies in our Directory.
WHAT IF YOU WOULD RATHER HAVE GRAVEL?
It’s an easy, affordable material to lay. Choose the 14mm or 20mm types (the latter will ensure cats don’t use it as a loo).
Lighter-coloured gravel will brighten shady areas of your garden.
Ideally, it should be put onto a porous base, such as mud or grass, so that water can drain away, but it can also be added to concrete or tarmac surfaces. We recommend using a weed membrane, which will reduce the amount of unwelcome plants. The golden rule is to use gravel made from a local stone, as its colour should harmonise with any existing paving or walls. If you’re using several packs of gravel, mix them to blend the colours. Read more, ‘Curb Appeal.’
FINALLY, IS THERE ANYTHING TO KNOW BEFORE PAVING AN OUTDOOR SPACE?
Once you’ve decided where to put your paving, mark any permanent fixtures on a plan. If you have to pave around manhole covers, this can affect the level of the decking. Plus, remember, the surface must finish at least 150mm below the damp proof course of the house so that rain doesn’t hit the untreated wall above. Staggering your paving or laying a pattern of different-sized blocks means you’ll have to cut slabs to achieve a straight border. Clay paving is popular and comes in many colours, while porcelain is ideal for roof gardens. Need to clean your outdoor flooring? Check out our ‘Best Floor Cleaners & Repair Companies’ in the Directory.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DECK AND A PATIO?
A patio is built at ground level, on a level surface, and typically is constructed of a “permanent” material such as stone pavers, brick, or poured concrete. A deck floats above the ground, supported by footings, at a height of anywhere from a few inches to many feet and can be built on an existing slope.
Typically, a patio is considered more of a permanent feature–and is more expensive to build. For instance, a bluestone patio costs more than twice as much to build a wood deck of the same size.