Building garden decking is a brilliant way to zone the different areas of your garden whilst creating a solid space for furniture and an outdoor living space.
Decking is quick to construct, and requires little hard landscaping work before it can be built. It also has a natural appearance and can blend in to your garden without creating a striking contrast. Wood is generally cheaper than stone depending on the type chosen, and can be treated to suit any garden scheme, from a rustic cottage garden to a contemporary space.
How much does garden decking cost?
The cheapest way to build a garden deck is to do it yourself. Individual decking boards cost between £5 and £15 and come in a variety of thicknesses and lengths. These standard deck boards are usually between 25 and 30mm thick, 120 – 150mm wide and 1,800 – 3500mm long, so working out the cost per m² will depend on the exact boards you choose. Typically, expect to pay between £30 and £70 per m².
Composite decking is usually a bit more expensive than standard wood and usually come in packs for 4 or 5 boards. Expect to pay upwards of £70 for a pack, or £20 – £40 for the individual boards.
Having a team install your decking for you will potentially save you time on your garden project and it certainly isn’t the most costly of jobs. Expect to pay an installer £500 – £1000 to install your whole deck for you.
Installing garden decking usually falls outside of the constraints of planning permission as long as it isn’t raised more than 30cm from the ground and the deck covers no more than 50% of your garden area.
Garden deck materials
Garden decking comes in three different variations and each example has its own pros and cons.
The benefit of softwood decking, like pine or spruce, is that it if the cheapest and most readily available of the three options. Hardwood decking is marginally more expensive, and is more hardwearing and naturally durable.
However, the elements will take their toll on any wooden decking and over time it will deteriorate if not looked after. Make sure any moss is scrubbed off your decking to prevent it becoming slippery. Your decking will also need to be treated and stained every couple of years, especially if it is in a high traffic area. You can also install nonslip strips in the grooves of wooden decking to reduce the chance of someone falling.
Composite decking is the most expensive of the options, but requires little to no treatment or maintenance once it is installed. Quite often, composite boards are manufactured with a nonslip surface too, so check with your supplier if that is a concern. The main issue with composite is its appearance. You can usually tell that a composite deck isn’t wood, so it is better suited to a contemporary home.
Repairing a rotten deck
Treated or not, a wooden deck is always susceptible to rotting if you don’t keep on top of it’s maintenance. Pooled surface water can quite quickly become and issue and cause the wood to soften and become dangerous.
If you suspect a plank to be rotting, press the tip of a screwdriver into the board. If it gives way, then you have a problem. The first thing you should do is check the surrounding boards, as rot spreads quickly. The easiest solution is to replace the board entirely, so you should buy a few extra boards just in case you need to make repairs.