Garden decking buying guide

Garden decking is an ideal way to take control of your outdoor space. From composite decking to timber and plastic decking, it is constructed from durable materials, meaning your decking area can withstand harsh winter weather and summer temperatures. Position your garden furniture to enjoy picnics al fresco on the decking during the warm months of the year, or brighten it with potted plants and flowers. Serving as both a gateway to your garden and a focal point for the whole family, decking offers a versatile solution for any home.

Different designs include non-slip decking and raised decking, while accessories like garden decking lights will make your garden space really stand out. Take a look at Tesco's buying guide to find out more about the host of ideas out there.

Hardwood decking

Hardwood decking provides a multipurpose and hard-wearing decking solution. This versatile material requires minimal maintenance and can handle whatever the British weather throws at it. It is also an attractive choice that doesn't require as much treatment as cheaper softwood alternatives, and usually comes pre-treated.

Composite decking

Offering a practical and attractive alternative to wooden decking, composite decking is made by combining wood with PVC plastic The result is a durable form of garden decking that is easy to take care of and retains much of the aesthetic charm of timber decking.

Decking boards

Decking comes in a range of different board styles too. These decking boards are composed of a wide range of different materials, and they come in various shapes and sizes. This allows you to find the right decking design for your garden. From horizontal to diagonal and chevron, or a combination of these designs, the boards can be used to create a unique pattern in your garden. They often come as part of a decking kit that includes the joists; the Mercia decking kits are a good example.

How to lay decking

You can always opt for a professional to lay your garden decking, but the process is fairly straightforward and shouldn't be too difficult for anyone with DIY experience. The first thing to do when laying your decking is to decide on the site where it will be positioned. Shaded areas of decking are more likely to be slippery especially in the winter, whereas areas that receive a lot of sun may fade more quickly. It is important to make sure that your decking area won't cover any drain covers, and if you live in a historic or listed building it may also be advisable to find out if you require planning permission from the local council.

The next step is to measure the area you are looking to deck. The best way to do this is by using strings and wooden posts. This gives you a clear visual image of where the boards are going to go in your garden and what size you will need to buy.

Make sure that your decking will be positioned 150mm under the damp proof course of your property, and that it will gently slope away from your home to prevent any flooding. The decking should slope at a gradient of around 10mm for every metre.

After this you'll need to clear the grass from the area, and make sure the ground is relatively even by firming it down. The next step is to lay a decking fabric over the earth to stop unwanted plants or weeds growing into the decking. The frame of the decking should be placed over concrete foundations, though don't worry as you can just use paving slabs rather than freshly laying concrete. Arrange the slabs in a grid pattern as this will support the wooden joists.

The next step is to put the frame together. Decking screws will fix the boards to the wooden joists, and they are stainless steel so they don't rust. First things first, lay the decking boards on top of the frame and mark with a pencil where each joist is in relation to the boards.

The screws are attached to the joists. Drill the decking screws around one inch inside the decking boards. You want the screws to be even (none should be too high up on the decking boards). The aim is to make the screws unnoticeable and keeping them at even distances from each other should help to achieve this. For a perfect finish you can fix a decking plank to the front and side of the frame.

Decking balustrade

If you are looking to create a discrete decking area, then you may want to think about installing a decking balustrade. These act as bannisters separating the decking from the rest of the garden, and are especially useful if you have raised decking.

Decking lights

Decking lights let you enjoy your garden deck through the evening and into the night. They can also mark out exactly the point where your decking ends, so you don't take a tumble off the end! Many makes of decking light are solar powered, so you don't have to worry about wiring or batteries, and you can just let the sun do all the work.

Decking stain

Timber decking is pre-treated so you have the option of not treating it yourself. This means the colour will fade over time, which will lead to a naturally aged style. If you'd rather it stayed looking new you can choose to treat it with either a layer of oil or decking stain.

Decking stain comes in a variety of different shades and is easy to apply by paint brush or roller. It provides a fuller colour than decking oil, and affords an extra layer of protection for your new garden area. You might want to match your decking stain or oil with any existing fencing or garden gates.

How to clean decking

Decking maintenance is fairly straightforward. Your garden decking should be checked once a year to make sure there are no loose screws or splinters. It should then be given a once over with a cleaning solution, If the decking looks particularly messy, with moss and algae growing on it, then it may be wise to use a pressure washer. After you've cleaned it you should apply some decking treatment, either decking stain or decking oils, and you'll be able to enjoy your outdoor area for the year to come!

Enjoy the view across your flowerbeds as you relax with a cup of tea on your decking. With this new garden flooring you can make the most of a space that parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and children can gather in together and it'll cut down on the gardening too. Browse Tesco's website to find the right decking kit today and benefit from delivery direct to your home.