With Summer well underway I’ve been investigating garden decking with the hope that an investment in an all weather wooden deck will coax me out into the garden on more than just the sunniest of days.
The Cheltenham House is fast becoming one of the slowest home renovations in history, partly because we keep revisiting rooms that we thought were finished and then completely redecorating them. Alongside this I keep finding new projects to distract my attentions from finishing any of the old projects. My latest distraction is decking the outside space…
Bring The Inside Out
Space is at a premium in our two bedroom victorian terrace so we really want to be able to utilise the outside space as much as possible, ideally we want an area that works in (almost) all weather conditions and feels like an extension of the home. Currently our garden is a bit of a building site…
We’ve decided to replace the existing patio and slate chippings with an L-shaped decked area that leads from the back door of our kitchen and wraps around the back of the house to create a full width seating area with fire pit – perfect for maximising alfresco activities in the more chilly evenings. Our garden is walled on all sides and I like the idea of cladding some of the walls by the seating area with the same material and perhaps even building an L shaped seating area out of the decking with integrated storage. We’ll need some kind of storage as I spent the last bank holiday weekend demolishing the old outside toilet which we’ve been using as a garden shed to make way for the new seating area. In the image you can see the huge scar on the wall from this demolition which is now waiting to be rendered and painted as part of the general garden renovation. You might also spot some red bags leaning against the kitchen wall. These contain the concrete roof tiles from the old outside toilet which turned out to be made out of asbestos. Feel free to ask me about how this was removed and disposed of safely (and cheaply) in the comments section below.
So far only a few ideas are set in stone, we want a dark finish to the deck. We want a seating area made out of the decking with hidden storage and for the walls around the seating area to be clad in wood or something that compliments the decking. In terms of dressing the space we are looking at some kind of permanent exterior lighting and we will be incorporating our fire pit which was a gift list item from our wedding last year.
With those parameters in place I have turned to pinterest for inspiration.
For all original sources, links and for more inspiration please visit my full outside space moodboard
Which Type of Decking?
There are three tiers of decking, softwood, hardwood and composite decking so you should be able to find a solution to fit your budget. Softwood decking is generally a light honey colour, hardwood is a more reddish colour or a deeper brown. Prices for softwood decking start from as little as £1 per linear metre, for hardwood expect to pay roughly four times as much. If properly maintained both should last for many years so really it boils down to which you prefer the look of.
If you are hiring someone to install your decking the labour and material costs to prepare the area, build the framework and lay the decking will almost certainly exceed the cost of the decking panels themselves and if you are going down this route it might work out more economical to let your installation team also source the decking, just make sure the materials quoted match the product that gets installed.
Composite decking is generally the most premium solution with a price tag to match, your budget for the highest quality composite decking like that from UK manufacturer Millboard will start at around £13 per linear metre and for that you get a wide range of colour and texture options and a non slip surface with an anti-fungal coating which requires no maintenance. If you are buying for your “forever home” you may be able to justify the additional cost, especially as you won’t have to pressure wash the surface at the start of each summer season.
Scaffolding Board Decking
I’ve not included scaffolding boards as one of the three options because, well… It’s not decking at all really. You can pick up used or new scaffolding boards very cheaply so a deck of scaffolding board is a tempting option, the wide boards look great and can be used to create a rustic decking area and they work brilliantly as external wall cladding as I learnt when I was photographing Charlotte’s Relaxed Revamp, for a Rock My Style home tour which we published back in 2016.
Please do consider if you do decide to go for scaffolding board decking that it is not a purpose built solution – scaffolding boards are cheap for a reason, the quality of wood is generally low. You’ll notice the metal braces screwed into the corners of the boards, these are to stop swelling and warping in wet conditions so if you remove them prepare for “characterful” uneven surfaces over time. Of course this might be the exact look you are going for.
The Next Steps
Whilst waiting for installation quotes to come in I’m busying myself as best I can, as I write this I am watching an eBay auction for some carbonised Millboard decking so fingers crossed. I’m also researching all the finishing touches – I’ve already bought some antique zinc numbers from The vintage wall to adorn the wall above our seating, the firepit from Garden Trading is ready and waiting and I’m well along in my research for permanent exterior lighting… You can keep updated with all progress at #thecheltenhamhouse as it happens by following along on Instagram.
I’d love to hear your experiences with decking, whether you went for softwood, hardwood, composite decking or even scaffolding and any hidden-gem exterior decor website recommendations you have would also be gratefully received!