Real Homes

Expert advice


Christina Chrysostom­ou reveals the mistakes to avoid when laying your own decking.

1 Installing it ‘wrong’ side up Fitting your deck boards with the smooth side showing and the grooved side down encourages air circulatio­n beneath the deck to stop it from rotting. Though the grooved ridges can offer more traction, they can increase the difficulty of cleaning your deck, making it slippery.

2 Not allowing for gaps Wood is a natural material and will expand when it’s humid and contract when it’s cold. Composite decking won’t warp like real wood. However, it can change size depending on the climate. Leaving a gap between the deck boards allows space for movement without damaging the structural integrity.

3 Using poor quality wood If you want durable decking, it’s worth investing in quality hardwood or opting for a composite instead of softwood.

4 Providing shelter for pests Space beneath the deck can become a new home for rats if you leave gaps for them to crawl into. You can prevent this by filling in the deck frame with hardcore, soil, or any other available material. If you want to be extra cautious, you can put chicken wire or mesh around the edge of the decking – although this may affect the overall aesthetic.

5 Not sealing the deck straight away If you don’t want your deck destroyed by Mother Nature, seal it as soon as possible. Suitable sealants are available from DIY stores. The best decking oils can protect your outdoor floor from rain and UV sun damage. If you want a splash of colour, even quick-drying exterior wood paints and decking paints have weatherpro­ofing properties in their formulas.

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