This week in the Examiner, Kieran McCarthy of KMC Homes provides advice on picking the perfect patio for your garden.

Q. About 15 years ago we put down decking in our smallish back garden. It’s off the kitchen and has been an enjoyable space to sit out in.

Unfortunately, it’s approaching end-of-life now and is looking the worse for wear. We are planning to replace it, but we are not sure what the best option is. I assume with the climate getting wetter and wetter, decking is no longer a runner?

We’d prefer something low maintenance at any rate. Is composite decking the way to go? Would paving be more practical or would that create drainage problems? Or what about outdoor tiling? (First World problems, I know!).

A. Timber decking (and indeed wall cladding) was envisioned in sunnier times when both our Celtic Tiger economy and our summer evenings were forecast to go on forever.

So, what are the options?

In my view, there are two main options; more (composite) decking or new paving (which may be paving slabs or tiles) so let’s look at these in turn.

In truth, the decking you have fitted suffers from the fact that your decking boards, though pressure treated, are exposed broadside-up, to the full extremes of the Irish North Atlantic climate. Every drop of rain local to this area will inevitably land and remain on your decking (as there are no falls/drainage).

These timber decking boards are therefore a ticking time bomb whose life expectancy is about 8-12 years depending on your exposure (believe me I know, having replaced the decking in our house and mobile home some time ago). So, can they still be used? Yes, if you’re careful.

There are modern equivalents that offer much more durability and indeed longevity. We recently built a raised deck outside our office and we used a composite (plastic) deck on the surface in lieu of a timber deck. The composite deck will certainly outlast the timber structure underneath which forms the structure of the deck, so this now becomes the leading edge in terms of longevity.

When I was repairing our mobile home deck I did find that the timbers underneath were in much better condition than the timber under our house deck. The reason for this was that, due to their elevated height (the deck was raised about four feet above the ground) we had great ventilation (air flow) underneath to dry the structural timbers when they became wet.

View full article in The Examiner here.




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