Gardens tend to add a wonderful aesthetic to the overall visual appeal of the house. Some people are extremely passionate about gardening, so much so that they create entire kitchen gardens. Some tend to do it for the extra oxygen while others just for the joy of doing it. Needless to say, the outcome of the process is extremely beautiful, however the process is tedious. People passionate about gardening tend to go to great lengths to make sure their plants are safe and well looked after. This means that they need to make a lot of tough choices, from fertilizers to layouts, designs and so on. But one of the toughest ones remains to be the garden decking material.
Essential Tips for Selecting the Perfect Garden Decking Material
Garden decking refers to the construction of a raised platform or structure typically made of wood or composite materials, designed for outdoor living spaces such as gardens, patios, or backyards. Decking provides an elevated surface that can be used for various purposes, including dining, relaxation, or entertainment.
Understanding Your Garden’s Unique Needs
Every garden is unique and hence it has its own unique needs. Outdoor decking can be tricky, as it needs the consideration of so many aspects:
- Climate and weather considerations: Choose the best decking materials that can withstand your region’s climate, whether it’s hot and humid, cold and snowy, or somewhere in between. Opt for materials that are resistant to moisture and rot if you live in a rainy or humid climate.
- Sunlight and shade analysis: Select the right outdoor decking materials that are resistant to fading and heat absorption is important especially if your garden gets a lot of direct sunlight. If your garden has shaded areas, consider how different decking materials will perform in these conditions and choose one that won’t become slippery or develop mould in shaded areas.
- Budget Constraints: Compare the initial cost, maintenance requirements, and longevity of various decking materials to find the most cost-effective option for your needs. If the budget is tight, you might go for maintenance-free decking options.
Comparing Decking Material Options
Wood is an important garden decking material. Wood decking is the construction of outdoor platforms using natural timber, offering a traditional, versatile, and customisable option for outdoor spaces.
Types of wood and their characteristics
- Traditional Softwood: Softwood decking is typically more affordable and readily available compared to hardwoods. It’s relatively easy to work with and accepts stains and finishes well.
- Pressure-treated timber: Pressure-treated timber undergoes a chemical treatment process to improve its durability and resistance to rot, decay, and insect infestation. It’s commonly used for outdoor decking due to its affordability and availability.
- Tropical Hardwoods (Ipe, mahogany, teak): Tropical hardwoods are prized for their exceptional durability and natural resistance to rot, decay, and insects. They offer a luxurious appearance with rich colors and tight grain patterns.
|Affordable, easy to work with, accepts stains and finishes well.
|Less durable than hardwoods, prone to warping, cracking, and decay without proper maintenance.
|Affordable, readily available, treated to resist rot, decay, and insects.
|May contain chemicals, requiring periodic maintenance such as staining or sealing to prolong lifespan.
|Extremely durable, resistant to rot, decay, and insects, and luxurious appearance.
|Expensive upfront cost, requiring specialised tools for installation, may be sourced from unsustainable practices.
Composite decking is a durable and low-maintenance alternative to wood, made from a blend of recycled materials, offering longevity and versatility. Composite decking is a good maintenance-free decking option. Composite boards come in various colors and textures, offering a uniform appearance and can mimic the look of natural wood without its drawbacks.
Advantages and Drawbacks
Factors to Consider Before Making Your Decision
Choosing the best decking material for your garden can be tricky with so much to take into consideration. You can follow this simple checklist to make sure you are not forgetting anything before the big choice:
- Determine the expected lifespan of the garden decking material.
- Research the garden decking material’s resistance to rot, decay, insects, and warping.
- Consider the warranty offered by the manufacturer.
- Evaluate the level of maintenance needed, such as staining, sealing, or cleaning.
- Determine the frequency of maintenance tasks required.
- Assess your willingness and ability to perform maintenance regularly.
- Decide on the desired look and feel for your outdoor space.
- Explore different colour and texture options available for the garden decking material.
- Consider how the garden decking material will complement the overall design and style of your home and garden.
Maintenance Tips for Long-lasting Decking
The garden decking material is a big decision along with a good investment. Hence the maintenance of these commodities is essential.
- Cleaning and Sealing: Regularly sweep or use a leaf blower to remove debris and leaves from the surface. Clean the decking with mild soap and water to remove dirt, stains, and mildew. Apply a sealant or protective coating annually to prevent moisture damage and UV fading.
- Regular Inspections and Repairs: Inspect the decking for signs of rot, decay, or insect damage. Check for loose boards, nails, or screws and tighten or replace as needed. Address any cracks, splits, or splinters promptly to prevent further damage.