Garden decking design ideas

If you want to enhance the look of your garden, but don’t have the time for lots of gardening, then timber decking may be the solution. Nowadays decking comes in a variety of colours and patterns, and with a little bit of once-a-year care can last for years.

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Decking Spaces
Decking is traditionally used in place of a patio, leading from the back door down to the grass. However there are plenty of other outdoor spaces that are suitable for decking. If you’ve converted a garden shed in to a home office, then decking outside the door can add to the look of a professional work space. If you have a pool, decking instead of a tiled surround will be less cold in the spring, and less rough on bare feet, as well as being less slippery when wet.

Other alternatives include using decking on the floor of a balcony, or if you are considering a roof terrace (if you have a flat roof space over a garage for example) then decking makes an excellent base. The wood is light enough to not damage the ceiling underneath, and it can be decorated with potted plants, or a trellis along the edge with vines, to create a quiet outdoor space without losing any lawn.

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Patterns
If you think that decking will be a series of dull, straight-marked planks set in a square or rectangle, think again! A good fitter will work with you to work out a particular pattern or setting that suits your style. From a basic, diagonal setting through to a herringbone. You can also have unlined wood, which could be laid to make a central diamond shape, or used to frame the edges of the pattern.

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Colours
Traditionally decking is kept brown, but at least with different stains you can have different shades that look like other types of wood, from a dark chestnut or elm, through to the paler creamy tones of cedar, or the reddish hints of teak. Alternatively if you think brown wouldn’t match with the outside of your house, you can also stain the wood with a few shades of grey, such as slate.

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Maintenance
A lot of people are concerned about how frequently they need to clean their decking and whether the wood rots in the damp British winters. The good news is that decking is easy to maintain. The wood is treated to prevent it moulding and rotting, but you can add a layer of clear varnish if you want. As for cleaning, a hose and a quick scrub with a stiff brush at the beginning of spring can help refresh the colour for the warmer weather.

Which type of decking is the most low-maintenance?

Construction materials used to create garden decks such as wood and later plastic are susceptible to various problems that require regular maintenance work or the complete replacement of decking systems. Faults with these substances led to a search for a low-maintenance building material that resulted in the development of composite decks that require little expenditure of time, money or effort for their upkeep.

Hardwood garden decking

Although hardwood is stronger and more durable than softwood garden decks are exposed to the elements which results in fouling and the need for regular maintenance work such as sanding and oiling every year or two. Due to the time it takes for slow-growing hardwood trees to attain maturity the use of this type of timber in construction projects has become controversial with alternative building materials being sought. Popular hardwoods used in garden decking such as teak and mahogany originate from the tropics and the felling of these trees for lumber has resulted in widespread deforestation which has a detrimental effect on ecosystems.

Plastic garden decking

Despite plastic’s reputation as an imperishable material its use in the construction of garden decks often leads to poor-quality results with compromised structural integrity, inferior aesthetic appeal and a greater need for maintenance work than might be expected. Although attempts have been made in plastic garden decking technology to address these issues these types of deck remain unpleasing to the eye, tend to expand or contract in hot or cold weather and they are prone to cracking, warping as well as bowing. Until these pressing concerns have been rectified it stands to reason that superior construction materials should be used in the building of garden decks.

Softwood garden decking

Softwood garden decks require the most maintenance work and tend not to last as long as decking made from other materials. While it is true that softwood is a cheaper timber than hardwood and that the faster-growing trees from which it is cut are easier to replace than slower-growing varieties it is inferior as a building material and its high-maintenance characteristics and short life-span may result in greater expenses in the long-run. Water-absorbent softwood tends to rot and moulder leading to slippery surfaces that cause health-and-safety issues. Brittle softwood is likely to crack and split while environmental factors often cause it to warp.

Composite garden decking

Composite garden decking represents the most advanced form of decking technology available at the present time and was developed to remedy those ailments associated with decking systems constructed from wood and plastic. A combination of recycled hardwood and polymer resin results in a durable material that neither cracks nor rots and its use in the building of outdoor decking allows for some of the most low-maintenance garden decks on the market today. Low-maintenance composite garden decks are easy to clean and do not need to be painted, sealed or stained while its anti-slip properties decrease the chances of accidents in inclement weather when decking is prone to become wet.