Is a Deck or Patio Better for Garden Design?

Wood or Stone? Boards or Paving? Let's Take a Look...

A hard surface is pretty much an essential for most gardens. It's a place for garden furniture, for barbecues, to avoid walking straight out onto muddy or wet grass and to create variety of texture in the garden. Really, what would a garden be without a patio or deck as a designated area for relaxing, dining outdoors and displaying your container plants?

Deciding whether to have deck or patio needs to take into factor a few considerations. Let us guide you through them all...

Building

tools to lay a patio

Building a patio

Laying a simple patio involves, in the briefest terms, the following: digging out the area; adding hardcore and compacting it; adding slablayer, laying the slabs evenly spaced and level; allowing the slablayer to dry; and filling the joints with mortar.

Crazy paving, shaped concrete pavers, bricks and the various other designs of patio may be more complicated.

Generally, building a patio can be a straightforward DIY job.

building a garden deck

Building a deck

Decking has the initial advantage that the bulding of the deck can take into account uneven ground - something it is much harder to account for with patios.

Laying a simple deck on top of an existing hard surface involves, in the briefest terms again, the following: building a wall plate if not freestanding; assembling the outer frame; assembling interior joists; adding noggings; adding the decking boards and adding fascias.

With lots more angles, cutting and levels to consider, building a deck isn't the easiest of DIY tasks and most people will want to call in a professional with the right skills and tools.


Cleaning

pressure washing a patio

Cleaning a patio

A patio can easily be swept clear of debris and then cleaned with a pressure washer. This will remove algae and weeds but do be careful not to focus on the pointing which could weaken mortar or sand.

Tough weeds in cracks can be removed with purpose-made tools.

pressure washing garden decking

Cleaning a deck

A deck is also easily cleaned with a pressure washer, though use it on the minimum level to avoid roughening the timber.

There are specialist deck cleaning products which will help remove stubborn dirt.


Maintenance

brushing sand into brick paving joints

Maintenance of a patio

Other than cleaning a patio, the other key aspects of its upkeep are to remove weeds and to take care of the joints.

As you remove weeds and moss over the years, the mortar or sand will be disturbed and lost. This can be replaced by brushing in new sand or a mix of sand and cement.

treating a garden deck

Maintenance of a deck

Regularly clearing your deck of damp debris such as leaves and keeping pot raised so they are not sitting in stain-causing puddles will help prolong the life of your deck. You can give your deck the best start by, after giving it 4-6 months to weather naturally, applying a preservative stain or oil. This can then be repeated over the years to freshen up the appearance of the deck. If you inherit an old ungrooved deck, you can sand it back and start again.


Durability

a circular patio

Durability of a patio

Patios exist in ancient courtyards showing they really are timeless and time enduring. Cracks and uneven areas can add character but they can also mar an otherwise intact patio. Removing individual slabs or bricks is possible but it may be hard to achieve a match. Pointing, as mentioned above, can easily be replaced.

a wooden garden deck next to the lawn

Durability of a deck

If the timber boards of a ship's deck can weather storms and seas, a garden deck can do the same. If rot does set in, boards can be removed and replaced then stained to match. Not ideal, but manageable. Regular cleaning and maintenance should result in a garden deck that lasts decades.


Range

a dark, large slab patio

Range of patios

Patio designs are innumerable. The choice of stones, shapes, colours and layouts is vast. From quaint to modern and from tradtional to quirky, there is a patio for every taste and garden.

a modern dark garden deck

Range of decking

The majority of decking is timber boards. Composite decking is a newer material but achieves pretty much the same look. You do have a choice of wooden railings, a mix or metal and glass, and the choice of adding steps, lights or ropes. So, though the choice is more limited, the effects can be add great impact to your garden design.


Cost

very large garden patio

Cost of a patio

According to sbhonline.co.uk, the price of a patio can be "between £12-£32 per square metere" depending on the material, shape and size of the desired patio.

The National Association of Realtors estimates that you would recoup around 85% of the value of the patio. It will last at least 25 years and usually more with very little maintenance.

very large wooden deck

Cost of a deck

An average deck costs approximately £50-£75 per square metre, according to sbholine.co.uk. Again, this differs depending where in the country you are, if you opt for soft or hard wood and whether you are including railings, steps and other features. It may be an initially higher outlay but the NAR have found decking to have a 106% return on investment value.  Again, this differs depending where in the country you are and whether you are including railings, steps and other features.


Making Your Mind Up

wooden garden deck with arbour

It really is a matter of taste, budget and whether you want to try DIY or call in the professionals. The variety of designs allows both to be superb features for your garden. Here, at Buy Fencing Direct, we are timber experts so are obviously biased towards a wooden garden deck. We sell kits with all you need to make it easier and we even have decking kits with pergolas and railings included. Take a look at our decking range here.

Whichever you choose, drop us a photo. We always love to see customer's gardens.