Arbordeck blog

Five ways to create a future-proof deck

Brown composite decking in garden

Despite being outside of the traditional ‘decking season’, some installers are still seeing their books fill up at this time of year, thanks to the enduring popularity of decking as a way to transform an outdoor space. The decision between timber vs composite further influences this trend.

This trend is showing no sign of slowing down, and it’s easy to understand why. Decking promotes spending more time outside, which has been proven to have a positive impact on wellbeing. It also offers a solution for extending living space, and this is one of the key reasons the installation of decking can add thousands onto the value of a property.

Of course, this return on investment only applies when a deck can stand the test of time – fortunately, there are several steps that can be taken throughout the process to help future-proof a decking area.

Sensitive design

One of the most important steps for ensuring a deck can be enjoyed for many years is the initial design. This is the first stage of any decking project – it helps to understand the requirements of the space at this point, which will assist in making decisions affecting the later stages such as materials and configurations.

Of course, it’s vital to check local building codes and regulations to ensure any breaches are avoided. Similarly, it’s important to ensure any decking plans are sensitive to the local architecture – for example, while a large, multi-level grey deck may look great in the garden of a new build property, it probably wouldn’t be in keeping with a traditional Victorian terraced home.

During this stage, it’s also important to think about what the deck will be exposed to throughout its life. Factors such as high footfall and ongoing exposure to more extreme elements, as is the case for coastal locations, will shape the requirements of the deck itself.

Foggy Wharf - Trex Enhance® Naturals decking with Island Mist - Trex Transcend borders installed by Browns Landscape

Decking installed by Browns Landscape

The timber vs composite question

Having plans for the design of a deck in mind can help answer the timber vs composite question, as it will give some ideas as to what is required of the deck. For example, if the space demands curved edges composite could be the best option, or if it’ll be a small deck with a low budget, the use of timber may be most appropriate.

While some people prefer the traditional appearance of timber as well as its lower price point, composite decking can offer greater value for money in the long term thanks to its longevity. Even with minimal maintenance, composite decking from leading brands like Trex offers exceptional durability and won’t rot, split, fade, or stain, and won’t need to be painted or oiled – unlike traditional timber alternatives.

Ultimately, whichever material is decided upon, quality is key and it’s important to always buy decking boards from trusted manufacturers and suppliers. If you opt for timber ensure it has been sustainably sourced – look out for accreditations such as Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). When choosing composite decking be sure to select a manufacturer offering a warranty, and avoid hollowcore and uncapped boards as these are subject to both external and structural damage.

Grey hot tub decking with steps

Decking installed by JR Tolley

Preparation, preparation, preparation

Once you’ve decided on the design and materials, the next step for ensuring a long-lasting deck is preparation. Taking time to plan the installation before actually starting could save hassle in the future, and can make all the difference in whether a deck will stand the test of time or not.

Be sure to have read any product installation guides ahead of time, so you know what you’ll need and other important considerations. Before starting the installation, check you have all of the required materials and tools and if using composite decking – which features slight differences between boards – lay the boards out first to make sure you’re happy with the overall look of the deck. Remember to also clear any weeds and ensure the surface is level before beginning to build the substructure.

Large grey decking

Below the surface

The substructure is the foundation of the deck, and is vital for ensuring the strength and durability of the deck – so correct installation is a must. Always follow manufacturer’s guides for installation, as these will confirm important elements such as layouts and spacing between boards.

Drainage is another important consideration for the substructure, and one that is often overlooked – even in the UK, where we experience a wetter climate. Deck drainage systems comprise a series of troughs that drain water away from the deck, which keeps the area dry and protected against the weather, ultimately keeping the deck at its best for longer.

The finishing touches

As well as practical considerations for future-proofing a deck, aesthetic decisions can make all the difference in keeping an outdoor space looking timeless.

Finishing touches like lighting and railings, that are both useful and decorative, are a great way to enhance the overall appeal of a deck without focusing too much on current trends. There are a wide range of specially-designed deck railings available to suit all tastes and budgets, and due to their additional benefit as a safety feature, railings will never go out of style. Similarly, with a focus on sustainability and nature’s role in wellbeing, the addition of plants and built-in planters as a design choice will continue to be popular in the future.

If you’d like to add trends-led décor to a deck, it’s best to do this through temporary features that can be easily changed as styles change. For example, cushions are a great way to add pops of colour, as these are simple to replace in future.

However a deck is designed, following these steps will help customers enjoy their decks for longer, and offer greater return on investment.

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