Make the Most of the Bank Holiday Weekend and Transform Your Garden with a Decking Area
If you’re planning to get out into the garden this bank holiday weekend there’s still time to get ahead of the game and get your garden decking project underway, so you can make the most of your outside space this summer.
A deck is the ideal opportunity to expand your living area and provides an excellent focal point for entertaining and spending time with family and friends in the garden. But with lots of different options on the market, how do you choose the right product for your garden? We’ve put together some handy tips to help you get started.
- Decide on the size and location of your deck
It might sound obvious, but it’s important to decide exactly where you want your deck to go and which direction you want your deck boards to run before you do anything else. Be aware that very large or raised decks may require planning permission, and that raised decks shouldn’t be built with the deck level at more than 600mm above ground level without specialist advice. Make sure you measure the length and width of the total area carefully so you can avoid any wastage. Using a string line and pegs in the ground is a great way to measure and visualise your deck. If you’re planning to place your existing furniture on to the deck or to invest in new outdoor furniture, this is a great way to check how it will fit before you get started.
- Decide what kind of decking product will best suit your needs
There are lots of important considerations when it comes to choosing the material for your deck, so it’s vital that you spend time weighing up the pros and cons of all the options before you make your final choice. Things to consider include; how will the deck be used? Is it in a shaded area or in direct sunlight? How long do you plan to live in your house and will your new deck material prove to be an asset if you decide to sell? Do you plan on installing the deck yourself or hiring a company to do it for you? How much maintenance do you want to be responsible for to keep your deck looking at its best?
Although wood has traditionally been used for garden decking, the past 5 years have seen huge advancements in engineering and the popularity of composite wood alternatives that outperform and outlast their wooden counterparts.
Wooden decking boards such as pressure-treated Southern yellow pine, redwood or cedar, are natural, easy to install and can be cheaper to purchase initially, but they require extensive annual maintenance and can rot, splinter, and warp. The main reason people choose wood is for the initial cost savings, but as well as their tendency to deteriorate over time, wooden decks also require periodic resealing and re-staining. You’ll either have to do this yourself, or you’ll need to employ a landscaping contractor to do it on your behalf, so the cost of this will need to be factored into your initial decision making process.
The main reason people choose composite deck materials is for the low maintenance required. Composite timber deck boards such as Dura Deck are engineered for maximum durability and are UV colour stable and are able to resist fading, staining and the effects of mould and mildew. Composite Timber won’t rot, crack or warp, and is splinter free so you and your family and pets can walk barefoot without any problems.
Despite the highly engineered composition, thanks to the natural wood content, composite timber decks have a great natural wood look and feel just like the real thing, so you won’t have to compromise on looks. They’re also available as eco-friendly – Dura Deck for example contains up to 87% recycled wood content and is the first product of its kind to be 100% FSC Certified.
Although the initial purchase price of a composite timber deck may be more than traditional softwood, the products more than make up for this over their long lifecycle thanks to their low maintenance nature, so if you’d rather spend your time enjoying your deck than maintaining it, then composite is probably the right choice for you. Remember to thoroughly research your supplier so you can be sure you’re getting the best value for money. Choose a reputable firm who offer excellent technical installation advice and guidance, and a manufacturer’s warranty. Dura Deck from Dura Composites for example offers a 10 year warranty provided the deck has been installed according to detailed guidance in the free Technical Manual. And what’s more, the warranty is transferrable to the new owner should you decide to sell your property, which could prove to be a great selling point.
If time is of the essence and you don’t have the skills or can’t afford to build a deck frame you might want to consider choosing decking tiles. Products such as Dura Tile, feature a composite timber deck surface fixed onto a plastic base. To lay these tiles in an afternoon, all you need is an area of hard-standing such as a paving or concrete that is reasonably flat and you can simply place the tiles into position secured using the interlocking tabs. The real advantage here is that you save time and money and you can create a deck area look with very little effort.
- Decide on your deck design and get your subframe right
Even if you are an experienced DIYer, it’s important that you fully understand each element of your decking project before you start laying your joists or deck boards. Think about where you or your guests will view the deck from. Looking along the length of the boards will make the deck look longer, while looking across the boards creates an illusion of width. Would you rather the deck looked longer or wider? You could also opt for a diagonal, chevron or chequerboard design. There is no correct deck direction, it’s purely personal preference but whatever you choose dictates your sub-frame design and configuration. Most composite deck boards have a grooved sided option which affects both the slip resistance qualities in particular directions and also the aesthetic of the board so if you’re looking for optimum slip resistance be sure to choose a design that will maximise this.
If your deck is to be set at ground level, then the removal of 100mm of top soil is recommended, which should be replaced with equivalent 100mm of compacted gravel/hardcore or crushed concrete. This provides a very solid but free draining site on which to build the sub-frame. Never install your decking directly onto a solid surface without supporting bearers, and ensure you allow a minimum 25mm airflow and drainage gap beneath the deck to preserve the life of the material. For more information on suitable bearers for a composite deck, click here to view the Dura Deck Technical Manual.
- Source your tools and materials
You don’t need to be a carpenter to build a decking area in your own garden. All that’s needed are some standard power tools and a good knowledge of DIY. In most instances if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, you’ll be able to undertake the work yourself over the course of the bank holiday weekend, provided you’ve planned carefully, checked and double checked your measurements, and taken the time to source your materials in advance.
Dura Deck composite decking boards are available from a large number of Jewson Landscaping stores in widths from 146mm to 295mm, so click here to search for your local store and get your garden decking project underway this bank holiday!
If you’re still not sure which decking material is right for you and your garden, Dura Composites offers free samples of its Dura Deck products in 4 colours and widths so you can see and experience the products for yourself. Simply call 01255 440298 to order your samples.