Tuesday, 28 June 2016


Patio or deck? This seems to be the big debate these days when people are doing their garden make-overs. We have just finished ours (see the before and after pictures here) and I've come to the conclusion that there is no right answer to this question. It all depends on your lifestyle, garden layout, type of property you live in etc.

We installed a timber decking in our newly landscaped garden two months ago and quite a few people I spoke to were not quite as convinced it's a good idea. I was told that decks are old fashioned, slippery when it rains, difficult to maintain and will begin to look drab after a year or two. I haven't had the decking long enough to comment on the durability (although ours came with a 10 year guarantee against rot) but I thought it might be helpful to list some pros and cons for anyone who is having the same dilemma.

Let's start with the Pros.

Physical Appearance
There's no denying that timber deckings look great when they've been first installed and it's the natural look that really appeals to me. Our decking blends in well with our leafy garden and brings texture and warmness to the garden décor. Of course it's all a matter of taste but this was a big selling point for me.

The Added Space

I really wanted our outdoor area to connect with the indoors so it feels like one large room and thanks to our new decking I feel I've achieved that. Having double doors opening onto the garden helps of course and you do sometimes forget where the garden begins and ends. Well designed decking can definitely make a house appear bigger than it is in reality and it's a lot cheaper than building an extension.

Comfortable Barefoot
I tend to walk in the house barefoot so it's a bonus that I don't have to put on shoes when I step onto the decking. It feels warm and cosy to walk on and for some extra comfort I actually use outdoor rugs (well they are indoor rugs but you can of course use them outdoors too). The rugs also make the outdoor space feel like a second living room and our children love playing on them.

Let's face it, deckings are cheaper and easier to install. If you choose to go for hardwood or a composite decking you will easily triple the price but the cost and labour versus pavement will be even bigger.

It's actually quite important that the materials you are sourcing are easily available. What if you have a problem in the future and you need some part of the decking/patio replaced? It's not unknown for things to go wrong and if your supplier is across the continent it can be a real problem. Most DIY shops sell timber decking boards but it's worth finding a reputable supplier directly in my opinion.

Decks are easy to install and pretty straight forward to work with since the supports can be cut to any height. If you don't have a perfectly even ground it's not a problem, you can install a decking on a sloping garden which many people don't realise. You have a lot of options in terms of design as well, decking boards can be moulded and cut to any size you want.

It's very easy and affordable to add a few LED lights to your decking to give it a real wow factor and most people seem to do that these days. Our deck lights have a timer so they switch on every night at 8 PM. Very easy and hassle free!

Now here are some Cons.

Timber is a natural material so you need to look after it. Our decking was pre-treated but it doesn't mean that it won't change its colour if you leave it as it is. Some people like their decking to weather beautifully to match the nature around them. This means that it will end up looking rustic grey. That's not really the look I'm going for, at least at the moment, so I will get our decking stained by the end of the summer. I will let you know how it looks like afterwards but I'm probably going to pick a natural looking colour that will blend in with our railway sleepers (which by the way have been oiled).

Clean up
I do think that dirt is more visible on deckings but it's not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that your hangout area is clean at all times. I hoover any excess leaves with a hand hoover and once a month mop it with water and a bit of soap. So far this is working great for us and it's looking clean and fresh.

Since timber is a natural product it will have some imperfections and the colour will change with time. Knots in the wood are also pretty visible and there's not much you can do about them as they don't recommend you using wood fillers outside. You do get used to them. They were bothering me in the beginning but I don't notice them now. It's also not ideal that you can see visible screws on the deck but they blend in with the pattern pretty well.

Timber is a natural material so you need to leave expansion gaps on the decking. That's why you will see small gaps between the boards. It doesn't actually look bad but you just need to make sure you don't take your credit card out and drop it or you may never see it again!

I am pleased that we got a timber decking in the end. I love how it looks and it goes very well with the type of property we've got and flows beautifully with the rest of the house. It also suits our lifestyle believe it or not. We love to socialise and relax in the garden and I wanted to create a comfortable outdoor living area that we can all enjoy during the summer. It feels like a second living/dining room now and our children love playing on the deck so much that rainy days are quite a disappointment these days.

Composite deckings are a great alternative to timber deckings by the way. They are more expensive but virtually maintenance free. The colour options are pretty unlimited too. You won't get the same natural look though but it all depends on the garden style you are going for. I think composite deckings look stunning in contemporary gardens and you could always have a mix of decking and pavement as well.

There are so many alternatives out there these days that it is not an easy decision at all. Good luck deciding and if there are any pros/cons you'd like to add to my list feel free to leave a comment!


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