A Primer to Get You Started on Garden Decking

  in  The Garden
Decking is a type of outdoor flooring structure commonly used in gardens. You will find decking is gardens of various sizes and in commercial properties as well as in residential gardens. This guide is meant to help you understand the various options.

Popular Decking Material:

There are two common types of decking, wood and composite. Each has its pros and cons.

Wood Decking - As the name suggests these decking boards are made from timber that can cope with the elements. The timber will have fire rating similar to steel, natural oils that in return will reduce the need for preservatives and sealants, as well as, containing decay, insects and fungus resistant properties. Popular species of wood include Ipe (pronounced e-pay), Teak, Iroko and Angelim. The benefits of wood decking lies in its looks that is second to none. On the other hand, wood decking requires up keeping and maintenance.

Composite Decking - These decking boards are made from plastic and some degree of wood, however you will almost always be able to notice a difference between wood and composite. The benefits of composite decking include low (almost zero in some cases) maintenance, UV resistant, mould resistant and water resistant. On the other hand, low quality composite boards look artificial due to the ratio of plastic materials used vs. wood, and the surface can become slippery. Composite is considerably cheaper and often fitted in gardens where low maintenance is required.

Design Benefits Of Decking:

1. Counteract Uneven Areas - It is common for gardens to have uneven parts and gradients of various degrees. Using a simple decking technique of creating steps can counteract uneven areas.

2. Improve Access Around The Garden - Access to various areas within the garden can be improved (if needed) by covering parts of the garden in decking. Doing so also has the added benefit of making the garden look bigger as it extends the living space.

3. Additional Area For Entertaining and Socialising - Having your breakfast in your garden on a warm and sunny summer's day is priceless.... Decking can transform the look of the garden, but also improve its potential for entertaining others.

How To Maintain Garden Decking:

Composite decking requires very little care, however the surface can become slippery if dirt is allowed to accumulate over time. Therefore the occasional brush and jet wash will suffice. On the other hand, wood decking does require basic maintenance to increase the durability of the wood. Follow these simple steps:

1. Start by making sure that the decking surface is free of any clutter, obstacles and garden furniture. When doing so, do not drag furniture on the surface of the wood as it might scratch the wood.

2. Using a stiff broom brush the area to get rid of any dirt that has accumulated over time. If you have a jet washer (below 1500psi in pressure) wash the wood ensuring that you cover every plank and every edge.

3. Now oil the wood again. The best result is achieved by using dedicated decking oil (from homebase or BandQ) which will seal the wood by penetrates the wood leaving a natural looking finish on its surface.

Bonus tip - After the winter months, the surface might contain stains from debris, food or any other material that has been allowed to settle. To remove these stains, use soda crystals in conjunction with warm water. Spray warm (not boiling!) water on the surface of the deck and then spray soda crystals. Allow the deck to dry naturally and wash away using a jet wash. This treatment will do wonders and is often cheaper compared to commercial cleaning solution.

The Environment and Decking:

Most UK sellers source their decking material from sustainable forests where trees are replenished and ethically transported. If you come across a species of tree previously unknown or you wish to check their status, you can check the endangered list of trees online at www.iucnredlist.org. Furthermore, sellers displaying the FSC mark which stands for 'Forestry Stewardship Council" have been accredited for sourcing their woods from managed forests - you can visit their site here: www.fsc.org.

Written by Wood and Beyond. FSC timber vendor of wood flooring, decking and other timber products such as solid oak worktops.