Improving a garden can be an expensive investment, so it is important you make the right decisions from the start.
Installing decking can offer great versatility to a garden, but you will have to decide from the available decking types to find the best option for your needs.
This guide will help you choose the perfect decking for your garden by providing you with all the information you need to know to make an informed decision.
Why Decking is an Excellent Option for Gardens
If you want to make more of your outdoor space and are fed up with having to cut your lawn or weed flower beds, installing decking can be a great option.
Depending on the type of decking you choose, you can minimise the amount of work that your garden needs by installing decking.
Moving the lawn, trimming bushes, and weeding can all be back-breaking work. Reducing the area in your garden where you have to carry out these tasks by installing decking can be an excellent way to start enjoying your garden again.
Some decking types will require regular maintenance, so choosing wisely will help you have a more relaxing relationship with your outdoor space.
Extra Useable Space
Decking can be a great way to enjoy uneven or steep land. This will give you more space to relax, entertain, and play with your family.
Decking offers a versatile outside space that can be enjoyed year-round. Furnishing the area with comfortable seating, dining furniture, or leaving it clear for children to enjoy safely are all options.
Increase Property Value
Renovating your home will typically add value, and your garden is no different. Making the garden area more inviting by investing in high-quality decking materials can increase your property value considerably.
An increase of between 10% to 25% has been recorded in UK properties when decking or terraces have been added to homes in desirable areas.
There are various factors to consider when choosing decking, including cost, finish, durability, and how long they last.
Different materials will offer different benefits, but there might also be drawbacks that should be considered to ensure you choose the best decking for your needs.
Wooden decking is the most common choice in the UK and provides a great finish. Different wood types will have different costs and durability levels.
Taking the time to explore different timber decking options and checking the specifications with suppliers will ensure you get high-quality deck boards that last.
Timber Decking Classifications
The strength of timber is graded for use, making it easier to determine which wood best suits a purpose.
For decks under the height of 600 mm, timber with a C16 rating is recommended. This should be the minimum for softwoods over 600 mm in height, with C24 and C18 class timbers being used on commercial decks or for longer spans.
Wood Decking Certification
Wood decking has two certification bodies to ensure the wood used is sourced from a sustainably managed forest. These are the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) and the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
Softwood decking is typically light-coloured and affordable. European softwoods include Norway Spruce, Scots Pine, and Maritime Pine. Softwood trees are fast-growing, making them an eco-friendly option.
Softwood decking is a great option if you are looking for a material that is easy to work with.
Softwood decking boards are not as durable as other options and can suffer from scratches and scuffs. This type of wood can suffer in areas with a high footfall and is prone to fading over time.
This is a high-maintenance option. Treating the wood to seal and weatherproof it, as well as staining it, is recommended.
Softwood options and pressure-treated timber can last for around 15 years when properly maintained. Rot, warping, and wood boring insects such as woodworm can impact the lifespan of timber decking.
Softwood decking can cost from around £40 to £100 per square meter, depending on the supplier and quality of decking.
It should take around two days of labour to install this at the cost of around £200 per day.
A small 15-square meter decking area should cost around £600 to £1,500 for the decking boards.
Hardwoods like Chestnut or Oak are more durable than softwoods but are usually more expensive. The natural look is often appealing to homeowners and offers greater resistance to rotting, splitting, warping, and fire than softwood deck boards.
Hardwood decking is more difficult to install, and it grows much more slowly than softwoods.
Hardwood decking is significantly more durable than softwood and can withstand more frequent use without degrading.
Bi-annual deep cleaning of hardwood decking is recommended. Using a specialist hardwood treatment twice a year will protect the wood from the elements and use.
A hardwood deck’s lifespan depends on the maintenance it is given. It should last longer than the 10 to 15 years that softwood will typically last.
On average, hardwood decking costs from £60 to £120 per square meter.
Small decks of 15 square meters will typically take around two days to install. Average UK decking installation costs can cost around £200 per day, depending on location and experience.
Hardwood deck boards for this deck size will usually cost between £900 to £1,800.
Exotic wood decking boards are naturally rot-proof but will still need treatment.
There is a wide variety of exotic wood types that offer consumers a variety of colours, including;
- Acacia is white in colour.
- Eucalyptus can appear white, yellow or pink.
- Iroko has an orange hue.
- Teak has a yellow-brown colour.
- Merbau has a red tone.
- Massaranduba is an orangey red colour.
- Itauba is brown.
- Ipe is orange.
- Yellow Balau is brown.
Exotic Wood Durability
Exotic used for decking is much closer to hardwood, so it has a good level of durability.
Exotic Wood Maintenance
Exotic wood will need to be regularly cleaned and treated to minimise fading.
Exotic Wood Lifespan
With regular cleaning and treatment, exotic wooden decking will have a similar lifespan to hardwood. This will typically exceed 15 years when looked after.
Exotic Wood Cost
Exotic hardwood like Balau can cost approximately £80 to £100 per square meter.
Installation times will be similar to traditional hardwood decking and usually take around two days for a 15-square-meter decking area.
You could expect to pay between £1,200 and £1,500 for exotic hardwood decking boards to fit a 15-meter square area.
Composite decking material is made of wood fibres and plastics to create a strong, durable material that provides numerous benefits when applied to decking.
Unlike timber decking, composite decking won’t rot, split, or splinter. This makes it a much safer option for property owners with children or pets.
When installed correctly, composite deck boards won’t warp like timber. Timber deck boards typically warp due to continuous exposure to moisture.
The only thing that will cause composite decking boards to warp is being installed with no gap between boards or a connecting property wall.
Composite undergoes natural thermal expansion. If there is no space to allow the boards to grow, they will push against one another or the adjoining exterior wall and warp.
Ecoscape Clarity composite decking boards are an excellent composite decking option that offers consumers various benefits.
Ecoscape composite deck boards are rigorously tested to ensure they are of the highest quality and safety.
The Pendulum Slip Test EN15534 determines slip resistance. Clarity composite deck boards come with a wide groove pattern of 25 mm on one side and a narrow groove pattern of 6 mm on the other.
Both sides scored significantly higher than the minimum 36 on the Pendulum Test, which signifies a low slip potential.
Boards are available in five different colours; ash, autumn, charcoal, graphite, and walnut, and lengths of 3,000 mm or 4,800 mm.
The eco-friendly boards are 95% recycled and don’t need to be stained, sealed, or painted.
Composite Decking Durability
Ecoscape Clarity composite decking boards are a durable option that will cope well with UK weather.
They won’t take on water that causes timer decks to warp and rot. Splitting and splintering won’t occur with composite boards.
Composite Decking Maintenance
Maintenance of Ecoscape Clarity composite boards is minimal. Composite boards won’t need the regular upkeep associated with a timber deck.
Timber boards require staining, sealing, and other treatments to protect them from the elements. The most important part of composite decking maintenance will be keeping it clean.
Regular sweeping will keep dirt and debris from blocking gaps and causing drainage issues. Specialist cleaning supplies won’t be needed, with only soap and warm water or a power washer needed.
Composite Decking Lifespan
Ecoscape Clarity composite decking boards have a 20-year residential warranty. This is an impressive warranty that guarantees a long life for properly maintained and installed decking.
Boards must be installed using Ecoscape clip fixings and follow the installation guide. They will have to be registered within 90 days of installation.
Composite Decking Cost
The cost of Ecoscape Clarity composite decking is £41.55 per square meter.
A small decking area of 15 square meters would cost £623.25. Installation would typically take between one and two days for a small area like this.
Capped Composite Decking
Capped composite decking is similar in construction to regular composite, the main difference being the boards are capped with a thin, durable layer to offer additional protection.
The same decking boards using 95% recycled materials are used with a protective covering providing a wood grain finish on one side and a wide groove pattern on the other.
This higher quality, second-generation composite option is more expensive but has significant benefits that make it a worthwhile investment.
Capped Composite Decking Durability
Ecoscape Forma composite decking has all the durable qualities of the Clarity range, including stain and scuff resistance and a colour guarantee to protect against fading on any of its six colours.
ASTM B117-2011 testing is carried out to ensure the Forma range is UV stable, will not suffer from significant colour fade, and is also scratch resistant.
Capped Composite Decking Maintenance
Maintenance is minimal for the Ecoscape Forma composite decking range. This ensures consumers will be able to enjoy their outdoor living space without having to put too much time or money into it.
Like the Clarity range, the most important part of your composited decking maintenance will revolve around keeping the deck clear of dirt and debris.
Failure to keep clear of dirt can cause a build-up and blockage of the gaps between boards. This is necessary for drainage and can result in standing water, mould, or mildew. This can compromise the slip resistance and performance of the decking.
Capped Composite Decking Lifespan
The 25-year warranty for Ecoscape Forma composite decking shows faith in the product’s quality and performance.
Decking must be installed using the clips provided by Ecoscape and adhere to the supplier installation guidelines. The warranty must also be registered within 90-days from the installation date.
Failure to comply with the rules of the warranty can result in invalid claims.
Capped Composite Decking Cost
The cost of Ecoscape Forma composite decking is £66.12 per square meter.
A 15-square-meter decking area would cost £991.80 for the decking. As always, additional costs for labour or a subframe will increase the overall cost of decking installation.
Hollow Composite Decking
Hollow composite decking is a lightweight composite option with a honeycombed centre.
The honeycomb design provides surprising strength, and it can be easier to install traditional composite decking.
Hollow Composite Decking Durability
Hollow composite decking offers the same durability as other comparable composite decking products.
The only difference is that the hollow centre can hold water if the board is compromised.
Hollow Composite Decking Maintenance
Maintenance is simple and minimal for hollow composite decking, and it will require the same care and cleaning that other composite products require.
Clearing dirt and debris minimises pooling and the risk of boards filling with water or leaving the decking slippery.
Hollow Composite Decking Lifespan
Hollow composite decking typically has a significantly shorter guarantee than solid composite decking. A guarantee of between 5 and 10 years can be as much as three times shorter than its rivals.
Hollow Composite Decking Cost
Hollow core composite decking can cost around £35 per square meter. The cost of a small 15 square meter decking area would be around £525, excluding additional expenses.
Hollow core composite decking is easy to work with, and installation times should be at the shorter end of the scale.
Other Decking Considerations
Now that you know a little more about composite decks and other materials, you will have to consider the other costs and choices when installing decking in outdoor spaces.
Subframes and Joists
The subframe and joists are essential for supporting your decking. A raised deck must have safe and secure support to ensure the deck lasts as long as possible and users are protected from collapse.
Raised decks can be perfect for gardens that aren’t level or have a steep gradient. Depending on the deck material and intended purpose, you might need additional strength.
Composite deck boards are heavier than timber, and this should be a consideration during the installation process. Joists must be located closer together than they would for timber decking.
If you plan to install a heavy hot tub on your back garden decking area, you will also need to install a suitable subframe to support it.
Subframes are available in a range of materials that offer different benefits, including;
- Timber – Timber is the cheapest subframe material and easiest to work with. The downside of working with timber is it is not as strong or long-lasting as other materials, and this can result in the subframe deteriorating at a quicker rate than the decking.
- Composite – Composite subframes are a strong option that will last a similar length of time as a composite deck. It is more durable than timber but more expensive.
- Aluminium – Aluminium is an extremely strong material that won’t be affected by moisture. This is a great option that can offer excellent support to heavy decks.
- Plastic – Plastic is a long-lasting material that won’t be affected by the weather. Unfortunately, it is not as strong as composite or aluminium and may require additional support, which will increase the overall cost.
Balustrades will be needed on raised decks to provide safety along the edges and stairs. This safety feature is available in various styles and materials to compliment the decking and minimise shading or obstruction.
Raised decking will need steps leading down to the garden area. Safety railing, balustrades, and lighting on stairs can improve the safety and appearance of your stairs.
Durable material is required for stairs and decking areas that require them. This is because high traffic levels will be concentrated in specific areas near the top of the stairs.
Installation costs in the UK will typically cost around £200 per day, and this will vary depending on the location and experience of the professionals.
Professional installation from experienced workers is recommended with decking, as safety should be a priority.
What is the difference between decking tiles and decking boards?
Decking boards are individual, long boards. Decking tiles are square and made up of several rejoined decking boards.
Decking tiles can be a cheaper and simpler option than deck boards. They can be installed over existing flat surfaces and won’t require a subframe.
Can I install composite decking myself?
You must follow the provider’s installation guide and use the parts provided to avoid invalidating the warranty.
Safely and securely installing your decking should increase the lifespan of the area and minimise the risk of problems occurring.
Is wood a more eco-friendly choice than composite?
Wood is not always a more eco-friendly choice than composite. In the case of Ecoscape, composite products are made using recycled plastics and reclaimed wood fibres.
Softwood decking is also an eco-friendly source of decking because the trees used to make it are fast-growing.
Before purchasing, you should always check the material source to ensure it is sustainably sourced.
Should I use hidden fasteners with composite decking?
Yes, you should use hidden fasteners with decking. These options hold the board in place securely, and room for allow natural thermal expansion. Screwing composite deck boards in place can result in warping.
There are many variables when considering the perfect decking options for different gardens. Style, durability, longevity, and cost are all significant factors.
Installing decking in your garden can be a worthwhile investment, so ensuring you choose a hardwearing material that will last a long time is important.
The maintenance of a decking area will depend on the materials chosen. There is also a great choice when it comes to colour and finish, meaning you will be able to find the perfect decking to compliment your home’s exterior.