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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.