Fine weather is finally on its way, which means that it’s time to start thinking about some serious garden makeover ideas.
If you’ve spent any time watching garden design programmes over the years, you’ll likely already know what decking is. Garden decking is an extremely popular option. It’s a great way to add a bit of a natural wooden tone to your lawn, and what’s more, it doubles as a great place to chill out and to entertain. But, hang on one second – isn’t decking expensive?
In some cases, yes. The best wood decking, which is going to withstand years of use and British weather, is going to demand a fair amount of money. However, there may be a cheaper option than decking that might appeal to you. Alternatively, you could save money building a deck where you least expect it. I’ve put together a quick guide to look at how you can reduce the cost of your garden makeover.
Cheaper Alternatives to Decking
First of all, let’s look at a few alternatives to decking. Yes, treated wood looks fantastic, but the fact is, it’s not always so cheap to come by. A more affordable, and just as great-looking an option, might be right at your fingertips. Here’s a few ideas you might want to look into in the months to come:
- Plastic or PVC Decking might be a good option if you want to cut down on the cost. While it might sound flimsy or unappealing, just take a look at what’s out there. Modern plastic and PVC looks fantastic. What’s more, unlike wood, it’s never going to rot, and it’s extremely durable.
- Rubber Paving is another popular option in British gardens. Again, while the idea of a rubber deck might not appeal to you per se, just take a look at an example. Rubber paving tiles are super-durable, are resistant against the weather, and are very comfortable underfoot. What’s more, you might actually find it cheaper to wooden decking in the long run.
- Concrete and Stone Decking is also a popular alternative, though many people may see this as a simple alternative to a patio. I’ll come to where patios fit in this debate shortly. However, again, it’s worth looking at specific stone and specific decking styles.
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How to Deck a Garden Cheaply
If you can’t find a cheaper option than decking in wood that appeals to you, don’t worry. There are still a few tips and ideas you can put to good use if you choose to stick with timber or otherwise. However, do be willing to keep an open mind. The price you’ll pay for garden decking is, naturally, going to vary from product to product. Therefore, take my following advice as basic guidance and apply it to your own shopping experiences.
Treat it Yourself – If You Want To
You don’t have to opt for treated wood. Sometimes, what really drives up the cost of decking is the fact that you’re paying for the wood treatment, as well as the quality and construction of the material itself. The fact is, no one’s quite sure on whether wood treatment is actually worth it.
Therefore, if you do want to treat your wood decking – I’m going to sound harsh here – do it yourself. There’s a lot of talk around as to whether or not treatment chemicals are harmful, too. Therefore, it’s probably going to be cheaper and safer for you to look around at what’s on the market rather than diving straight into pre-treatment.
Simplify Your Design
Think about keeping things simple. When you look for decking as part of any kind of garden makeover, you’re probably going to find it tempting to look for a custom design, or something which mimics your dream look.
If money is tight, then it’s time to dial things back a bit. As we’ve all seen over the years, cutting back when times are tight is key. The same, I’m afraid, could well apply to your decking. Therefore, go for simple looks, styles and colours. Save money building a deck by going back to basics. You might actually be surprised at how snazzy some of the simpler decking looks can be.
Don’t Pay for Help
Help is a good thing – of course – but when it comes to saving money on decking for your garden, don’t be too hasty to pay out for the extra support. Plenty of decking packs and raw materials are perfectly easy to work with on the whole. Therefore, you could save yourself hundreds by just picking up the tools and materials yourself and looking into a cheap online guide.
Of course, only really attempt this if you’re confident you can make it work. I’m not about to advise you do anything to save money if you are likely to injure yourself! Therefore, if you’re not confident about what you need to do to get a DIY deck up in place, make sure you ask for help from a family member, partner or friend. There are plenty of people out there who will likely be willing to support you.
One of the most popular choices for cheap decking online is to use pallets. Pallet decking is all about taking wooden pallets and using their slats to create new shapes and designs. However, this option may not appeal to everyone, as the quality of wood you receive isn’t always guaranteed to be as resistant or as hardy as anything you’d pay more for through a contractor.
Therefore, choose wisely. It’s worth using pallets if you are willing to embrace the trade-off on quality. It’s also a good DIY option. However, some people might not think it is the best way to set up a long-lasting garden upgrade. In some ways, they’d be right – it might be worth spending a bit more to get the best quality.
Is Decking High Maintenance?
When you’re in the midst of a big garden makeover, it’s tempting to ignore the fact that, in time, decking is likely going to need a fair amount of TLC. Decking can be very high maintenance. However, it all depends on the type of wood you choose, the size of your decking, and whether or not you treat it. As mentioned, pre-treatment isn’t always the best idea. However, there are a few choices out there which are likely to demand less time and money from you in the long run.
Composite material, for example, can be lower maintenance. That’s because, in the first instance, you’re not going to need to stain or seal your material. Some people might avoid this option altogether as a result of the look, and again, this is something which can be a bit of a trade-off. However, again, balance what’s most important to you – the look, or the savings?
Vinyl might also be a good choice for low maintenance decking, as again, it’s not going to need the treatments and coatings that you’d expect to give a few planks of wood. However, it does have its drawbacks in places. For example, vinyl is at risk of getting pretty hot in the sun, can get scorching underfoot, and it’s at real risk of cracking and splintering apart.
Therefore, as you can imagine, even the lowest maintenance options out there have their drawbacks. You’re going to need to think carefully about whether or not a low maintenance deck is going to cause you different headaches in the long run. There’s a careful balance you’re going to need to strike.
Decking vs Patio: Which is Cheaper?
On face value, a patio is always going to be cheaper than decking. It’s cheaper to lay concrete slabs than it is to set up complex wooden pieces. What’s more, a patio is, on the whole, likely to be a lot cheaper to maintain. Specific types of wood need specific treatments and cleaning schedules. Patios and concrete, however, need the odd clean every now and again.
Then again, you may find that patios have other drawbacks. While it may be a cheaper option than decking, it’s likely to offer more of a slip risk, and plenty of people will agree that a decking just looks nicer by design. That’s hard to argue with. What’s more, patio slabs are prone to cracking outright, which means a complete replacement.
Pound for pound, there’s no guarantee that a patio is going to be cheaper for you in the long run. However, on face value, there are definite savings. Once again, carefully think about your circumstances and what is likely to benefit you the most in the long run.
What’s the Least Expensive Patio Material?
Concrete is always going to be your cheapest option. It’s very easy to come by, and what’s more, it is often very durable. While I mentioned above that patios can crack over time, anyone careful with their stone will likely find concrete to be a solid solution for many years to come. You should, however, think about asking for expert help. Setting up cheap concrete paving slabs on your own could lead to you accidentally installing them the wrong way or ending up with a system that just doesn’t endure.
You might also want to consider brick. Brick patios aren’t as cheap as concrete ones, but truth be told, they are just as resilient. They also offer a very rustic look – a great, outdoorsy aesthetic which might appeal to the right person and the right garden. However, think of the trade-off as far as time and effort is concerned – setting up a brick patio on your own is not only going to require intensive logical planning, it’s also going to result in a lot of extra time and effort putting everything into place. Bricks are tiny compared to concrete slabs!
The least expensive patio material isn’t something that’s so easy to qualify. A cheap patio material is one which is likely to withstand years of use without much need for maintenance. Therefore, think about the economics of it all in the long run, not just based on how much you pay at the point of sale!
Will a Deck Add Value to My Home?
Yes. Data does appear to show that decking can add value to a property when you come to sell in the long run. At the very least, it’s suggested that you might claim back the base value of your deck when you sell, and perhaps 5% on top. Adding a deck to your garden creates a nice, natural and homely look, and on looks alone, you’re sure to create a great focal point or first impression.
However, do not take this information as a sure thing. It’s safe to say that all home sales and decks will differ in one way or another. Therefore, while it’s a safe assumption that decking is going to add a bit of value to your property, there’s no real way to find out how much, at least ahead of time. Just make sure to keep an open mind should you come to sell your home at a later date!
If you have your heart set on decking and upgrading your garden, then there are plenty of ways to look for a cheaper option than decking in treated wood. It might mean that you need to compromise on a few factors, however, think carefully about what great value means to you.
Decking is a great addition to any garden – might it work for you? There’s no reason to pay through the nose for it!
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