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How to choose the right decking for your garden

Summer’s underway, although you might not believe it if the grey skies are anything to go by. Now that sunny days and warm evenings are on the horizon, you’ll want a garden with a decent sized area to sit with family and friends. It’s for that reason that many of us turn to decking every year. Much like flooring options, having more than two choices can make things confusing. To help you out, I’ve put together a guide to the different types available.

Pressure treated timber

This is the most popular decking material with around 75% of us opting for the budget friendly wood. You might also hear it referred to as ‘lumber’. It’s easy to saw and fasten into place and there’s no shortage of the southern yellow pine tree from which it derives. After milling, it’s treated with chemicals such as Micronized copper quaternary (MCQ) or Alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) to make it resistant to rot, fungus and insects.

The downside is that it has a tendency to split and warp, although yearly pressure washing and re-staining the wood every 18 months to two years will help it keep its look.

Image Source: Universal Forest Products

Composite wood

A composite deck is made from a combination of wood and plastic to mimic the appearance of aesthetic wood. It’s loved for its hard-wearing quality which is ideal given England’s track record for wet summers! Some people don’t mind a few knots in wood as they view the process as contributing to its character but if you’re not one of them, composites will protect against them and give you a higher protection against rotting. Keep in mind that mould can still grow in damp areas and there may be eventually be signs of decay. After all, you will have wood in the mix. Nevertheless, if you’re not keen on maintaining a deck, you’ll welcome the prospect of this no refinish, staining or sanding option.

Image Source: Pinterest

Aluminium

If your home’s exterior is contemporary or modernist in style, you won’t want to replicate the look of wooden decking, else you’ll end up with a clashing structure that will act as an eyesore. For this, you’ll need the product that’s relatively new to the market – aluminium. A good powder-coated finish will last indefinitely and you won’t have the common problems of rotting, warping, cracking or wood-boring bug infestations. Much like composite wood, it’s highly weather-resistant with two added characteristics – it stays pretty cool in the sun and is completely fire-resistant too. If you’re planning on lighting candles or having lots of bbqs, it’s ideal.

Image Source: Last-Deck

Three times as strong as pressure treated timber and composite decking, yet four times lighter – you should expect to pay for its high quality. At the moment, an average 1×6-in plank will cost around £6, while the common 5/4 x 6-inch decking will be around £1.64 per linear foot for composites and £0.66 for pressure treated timber.

Ipe

Ipe is a tropical hardwood with a price tag of around £2.29 for a 1×6-inch deck per linear foot. Weather and bug resistant, it’s difficult to saw and drill and doesn’t respond well to staining. You’ll need to invest in an oil-based penetrating stain that’s specially developed for hardwood and treat the material with a clear wood preservative every three years to protect it from fading in the sun’s rays.

Image Source: mylandscapes 

If you need help with choosing and installing decking, post your job in our carpenter or flooring specialist categories and up to three local tradesmen will get in touch.

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12 comments

  1. Why has Rated people only suggested Ipe Decking? There are a multitude of tropical timbers that are suitable and durable for decking applications. The need to source from sustainably managed tropical forests is also an important element, regardless of whether it relates to tropical or non-tropical species.

  2. We’re looking at having our garden landscaped and decked an would like a quote we have a few ideas but would like to get some local quotes

    1. Hi Johnny,

      If you post your job on our homepage (www.ratedpeople.com), up to three local gardeners will contact you to help. You’ll be able to select the right one for you after considering their quotes and previous customer recommendations on their profile site (emailed to you). If you’re just after quotes and aren’t intending to carry out the work at the moment, I’d suggest posting your question within our ‘Ask an expert’ section online (http://www.ratedpeople.com/diy-advice/). I hope this helps!

  3. Hi, I have a small garden in my flat in Croydon, and would appreciate some help and recommentations for decking… I had no idea there was such a choice of product….. am consequently quite confused…… any clarification and help would be appreciated…… thanks.

    1. Hi Rosangela,

      If you would like further information about specific decking types, you can post your question within our ‘Ask an expert’ section online (http://www.ratedpeople.com/diy-advice/). With a bit of information about your flat and garden, our tradesmen will help you as best as they can without viewing your property.

  4. There is a common problem with all decking, it becomes very slippery when wet or when it has not been cleaned properly. If you are someone that needs to use your decking all year round

    1. (Accidentally submitted) for general use or to just access your garden, you may want to consider non-slip timber decking.

  5. I had no idea pressure treated timber is the most popular option for decks. My wife and I are planning on installing a deck in our backyard, and haven’t been able to decide on a material yet. Knowing that treated timber is resistant to rot, fungus, and insects make using timber a great option for our home.

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