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Patio Vs Decking: Which One Is Best?

You know your garden is in need of a makeover. Perhaps it’s looking a little tired or lacks a decent surface to place garden furniture on. Either way, you’ve arrived at the classic patio vs decking debate, and you’re not sure which one is right for you.

We get it, and we’re here to help! Both patio and decking have their merits. However, when it comes to certain aspects, one may be better suited to your needs than the other.

In the blue corner, we have patios, whether they be made from concrete, limestone, sandstone or any other material. Over in the red corner is decking, with timber decking being the traditional option and composite decking looking to solve many of the pitfalls associated with wooden decks.

So, which one is best, and most importantly, which one should you choose for your project? Here’s everything you need to know.

Cost

Naturally, at the very top of most property owners’ considerations is wanting to know how much a certain feature is going to cost them.

Something you need to think about when deciding between patio and decking based on cost alone is that it’s not just the price of materials but the installation too. There may also be unforeseen costs that can often happen when digging up a garden (i.e. to lay patio).

Plus, you need to consider the ongoing costs of maintaining whichever surface you choose. So, think of the cost in terms of the lifespan of the material, rather than just turning up at the store to purchase your chosen material.

Patio Cost

Patios can be made from a variety of materials, including concrete, porcelain, limestone, sandstone, slate, granite and more. The quality of materials varies greatly, and as you’d expect, this then impacts the cost.

For example, a budget reconstituted stone paving slab can cost as little as £20 per square metre. If you’re not fussed on quality or aesthetics, this material will at least provide an even surface depending on the quality of the groundwork and preparation. But, inferior paving slabs will certainly look a lot less appealing even when freshly installed, let alone five years down the track. For an average 40 metre square area, the cost of a reconstituted stone paving slab would be £800 for materials alone.

A middle of the road patio would be a wood effect porcelain tile at £40 per square metre. These can look quite stylish, although some porcelain tiles do not have slip resistance which is one issue to look out for. For an average 40 metre square area, the cost of porcelain tiles would be £1,600 for materials alone.

Top of the range patio options includes high quality Indian sandstone, which can cost up to £100 per square metre. It is extremely expensive to import large, heavy stones from abroad, and as with any natural material, there is always a premium to pay when the material has to be directly quarried too. For an average 40 metre square area, the cost of premium grade Indian sandstone would be £4,000 for materials alone.

Hidden Costs Of Patio

Aside from installation, which can add thousands to the price of even the most basic of materials, you also need to consider any costly issues that may occur with the ground itself.

For example, ensuring the patio does not hinder the drainage of your home which could damage your property’s foundations. Also, there may be hidden pipework or cabling sitting directly underneath the ground which will need to be navigated when excavating the ground.

If your groundwork is good and you’re only looking to install a very small area of patio, then it’s easy to keep within a smaller budget with a patio. But, the costs can soon ramp up if you want a quality stone that will weather the elements well and will actually look great for many years to come.

Decking Cost

Similar to patio, the cost of decking is going to depend on the type of decking you opt for.

40 square metres of composite decking in our stylish Mocha shade would cost £1,724.31.

40 square metres of budget timber decking averages at around £1,400. While you may save a few hundred pounds versus composite decking on your initial outlay, you have to consider why that’s the case, and reading the reviews of cheap timber will often fill in any gaps here! 

Common problems with cheap timber decks include cracking, splits in the wood, warping and even inconsistent lengths being supplied.

Upgrading to a premium grade of timber would set you back £4,400 for the same size area on average.

Another big difference to consider is that not all decking is created equal. With timber decking, there is a tremendous amount of prep work involved prior to installation to ensure the deck won’t rot. Even if the deck is purchased pre-treated, it will need continual expensive maintenance over time.

Composite decking arrives ready to install with no treatment or surface maintenance required, other than an occasional gentle clean. The colour is also added at the time of manufacturing, which means no shelling out on painting your deck at the time of installation or over time.

Patio Vs Decking Cost: In Summary

When you compare the cost of decking versus patios, it’s possible to purchase budget concrete patio slabs that may appear cheaper to begin with. However the cost of installing and maintaining a patio over its lifespan will often offset any initial savings.

You also need to consider the additional building materials needed to install a patio such as a cement mixer, cement sand, trowel, rake, wheelbarrow, shovel, spirit level, tape measure, safety shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting ruined.

Plus, given installing a patio can sometimes unearth more problems to deal with underground, patios can have many unforeseen expenses associated with them.

Likewise, timber decking can be cheap to purchase initially, but the cost of maintenance over time will soon dissolve any initial savings.

However, composite decking does not require pre-treating, painting or any other maintenance. Therefore, working out the cost of purchasing and installing composite decking is all you really need to consider, making it easier to budget for versus a patio or even timber decking.

Installation

The installation of a patio or decking is the one aspect nobody likes to think about due to the mess and expense involved. However, the quality of a patio or deck installation will impact every aspect of your garden’s usability and enjoyment.

Both patios and decking can be installed by competent end-users. However, if your budget permits, we’d always advise a professional installation. Quite simply, a professional will be able to get to work quickly without having to figure out how to complete certain aspects or buy additional tools

Plus if you use a qualified installer who has the correct certifications or trade memberships, then their work will be guaranteed. However, if you install your own patio or deck and make a mistake, you won’t have these same assurances to fall back on, and it will ultimately cost more money and take time to put any issues right.

Patio Installation

Average patio installation time: 2-3 days

Similar to installing a deck, the first step of installing a patio is to map out where your patio is going to go and calculate the amount of materials you will need. However, this is where the similarities end, as preparing your ground for a patio installation can get very messy very quickly!

That’s because the ground will need to be completely level, and drainage will also need to be factored in. The work will usually involve digging out the top layers of the ground before concrete is mixed and applied to the ground, ready for the patio slabs to be placed on top.

Another aspect to consider is the weight of the patio or paving stones. Even smaller patio slabs can be incredibly heavy, meaning the installation needs to be handled by someone capable of lifting and repositioning each stone.

Composite Decking Installation

Average composite decking installation time: 1-3 days

Installing a composite deck involves building a framework for the deck to sit upon. Everything you need to build your frame, such as the pedestals, joists and fasteners, can be purchased right here at Dino Decking.

A big difference with the installation process versus patio is that composite deck has a number of components that are ready made and designed to be fit together.

A spirit level definitely comes in handy during the installation, as you’ll want to ensure your framework is exquisitely neat before installing the decking on top. However, the process is designed to be far less messy than a patio with no mixing concrete or ground excavation to contend with. You can even install a composite deck over an existing concrete surface because decking doesn’t need wet concrete to be secured to – just a flat surface.

Competent DIYers may find installing a composite deck straightforward. But for the best possible results, we’d always advise a professional installation.

View Dino Decking Composite Decking Instructions.

Maintenance

It’s one thing being happy with how your garden looks once it’s finished. But what happens when a stain gets on the material, or the British weather does its thing? If you install any surfaces in your garden that need maintenance, then forgoing this won’t just cause the material to look bad, it could actually cause the material to disintegrate too.

So, you’ll need to consider the time and cost of maintenance of any surface you are looking to add to your garden.

Patio

The amount of maintenance a patio requires is going to depend on the type of material you opt for.

Remember those cheaper concrete tiles? Expect these to require professional jet washing at least once a year at the cost of between £100 and £400, depending on the size of your patio. Likewise, lighter coloured patio stones are notorious for showing up dirt and debris, particularly after the winter season. If we look at the average price of £250 for a professional jet wash over 25 years, this would cost £6,250 if you had your patio professionally cleaned once a year. 

Darker colour patio stones will keep looking newer for longer. However, the gaps in between each stone (if applicable) may need resealing over time. Plus, you may find weeds growing through any gaps. If there are any trees near to your patio, then the roots may grow under your patio stones over time, causing lifting of the stones – this is also another issue that may be costly to fix. 

The cost of resealing a patio ranges from £175 to £360 on average, so if performed every five years, resealing could cost between £875 and £1,800 over a 25 year period. 

Decking

The cost of maintaining decking will vary dramatically depending on whether you opt for a real wood deck or a composite deck which is a mixture of recycled wood and plastic. As you may expect, using real wood means the time, not to mention the cost of maintaining your decking, will be far higher.

Average cost of decking maintenance (over 25 years):

Timber decking

  • Decking oil – £1,000
  • Decking paint – £800
  • Decking cleaner – £240
  • Decking protector – £380

Total = £2,420

Composite decking

  • Market leading composite cleaner – £400
  • Soft bristle brush (replacements) – £50
  • Household soap – £25

Total = £475

Quite simply, because the composite deck is manufactured to withstand the elements, as well as being non-slip, mould resistant and even UV resistant – it doesn’t need maintenance bar cleaning.

As the colour is added at the time of production, you don’t need to repaint composite decking as you do have to with timber decking. All of which helps to keep costs down over its lifespan, so you can spend more time enjoying your deck rather than maintaining it.

Visual Appeal

It certainly is down to personal preference whether you prefer the look over a deck versus a patio. So, we can definitely give both patio and decking a pat on the back here, as when installed correctly, both can create a beautiful feature for your outdoor space.

Did you also know that giving your garden a makeover can add as much as 5% to the value of your property?

Patio

The visual appeal of a patio is going to depend on the quality of the stone that you opt for, including how it weathers over time. Cheaper, basic patios rarely look as stunning as natural stone.

Sometimes a patio can look amazing when freshly laid, but as soon as it’s been through a few winters, it can soon fade or discolour. That’s why you need to do your research to ensure your patio will offer that longevity in terms of looks.

Decking

Decking always looks impressive and pairs beautifully with other landscaping features such as a lawn, raised beds or a water feature.

With composite decking, you can even build your raised beds out of any leftover decking or match in your decking with a composite fence or composite cladding. Our Classic range of composite decking is available in eight stunning shades to create a stylish contemporary look for your garden.

Weather Resistance

The British weather doesn’t mess around. With endless storms, rain and snow in the winter moving into hot, warm days in the summer, your outdoor surfaces need to be able to keep up.

Patio

Slippery surface – If using tiles (especially porcelain tiles) that have a smooth surface, then they may be slippery. Other types of patio may need gritting in winter weather to avoid slips and trips.

Mould/algae formation – Patios may need regular cleaning and surface treatment due to mould or the formation of algae. Patios are particularly notorious for developing black algae spots, so will require treatment to prevent and remove the problem.

Discolouration – Patio slabs including natural stone may fade after sunlight exposure, and some types of natural stone can corrode over time due to the acidic pH of rainwater. However, other types of patio or stone will hold up well with sun and rain exposure. We advise consulting the manufacturer and checking the guarantee of the stone before purchasing if discolouration is a concern.

Decking

Slippery surface – Whether you opt for timber decking or composite decking, ‘slippery’ isn’t a property commonly associated with decking in general, especially if your deck is kept clean and any spillages are promptly cleaned up. Also, our Dino Decking composite decking has anti-slip technology integrated into the material.

Mould/algae formation – Traditional timber decks can succumb to mould, algae or rot unless regularly treated. Composite decking is made from a combination of wood and plastic so won’t suffer the same fate, and has special mould resistant properties.

Discolouration – All types of decking will fade due to the sun to some degree, especially untreated timber. With composite decking, you should expect a 30% fade in the first 6 months until the product stabilises to its final colour. However, as our composite decking has UV resistant properties, any fading should be minimal. Our products are also backed by a 10 year guarantee.

User Friendliness 

Patios or decking aren’t just there to look pretty. How easy they are to use matters, since the surface will be subject to heavy use.

Some of the aspects to look out for is whether the surface can cause a slip or trip hazard, how easy it is to place furniture on, plus whether it’s user friendly for those with mobility issues.

Patio

When installed correctly, and opting for a smooth rather than rough texture, patios can be incredibly user friendly. However, this can change over time if any of the stones begin to lift or get broken. If a patio isn’t 100% even, then furniture won’t sit correctly on top of it (hello wobbly chairs!) and those with pushchairs or wheelchairs may struggle to navigate it. So, everything hinges on the correct ground preparation work and maintenance of your patio.

Decking

Decking is designed to sit on a framework, and that framework is mapped out to precision, ensuring all of the angles are perfectly level before the first plank of decking is even placed down.

In the case of Dino Decking composite decking, our decking is reversible allowing you to choose the texture of your decking. Whether you want to place furniture over the top or even let the kids ride a bike on it – the surface is completely even with no sudden dips or jagged edges.

You can even complete your decking with bullnose edges and corner trims to make it ultra user friendly, not to mention give it an incredible finished look. 

Longevity

The final aspect to consider is how long your outdoor surface will last, especially after it’s been exposed to the elements time and time again. In addition, how easy it is for the material to crack, chip, warp or break.

Changing trends may also impact how long the material lasts for, as a dated style may reduce the value of your property.

Patio

How long a patio will last will very much depend on the quality of stone or paving slab that you choose. Some of the ultra cheap concrete slabs are known to break being loaded off the van, never mind after 20 years of use!

On average though, a decent to high end quality patio should last for at least 20 years. After this time, it may no longer wash up nicely, have developed cracks or chips, or generally look dated.

It’s extremely important to check the guarantee as this will differ depending on the manufacturer or installer of your patio. Some only guarantee the stones for 1 year, whereas others offer a 10 year guarantee.

Decking

Decking can last between 15 and 25 years on average, with wooden decks having a slightly shorter lifespan due to aspects such as rot, mould, cracking or chipping.

Composite decks fare slightly better as the addition of plastic, plus mould, chip and crack resistant technology help to solve some of the pain points of using 100% timber decking.

Here at Dino Decking, we offer a 10 year guarantee on our products, with our Premium decking range offering enhanced qualities that lend towards a longer lifespan. For the best results, we recommend using a qualified installer and following the maintenance instructions to keep your composite deck in the best condition for as long as possible. 

Patio Vs Decking: In Summary

When it comes to which material is best, it’s impossible to rule either patio or decking out completely, because both have their pros. You could even mix and match by adding a patio for some areas of your garden, and decking for others.

But, when it comes to ease of installation, maintenance, being easy to clean, and having weather resistant benefits, there’s no doubt that composite decking rules the roost. Unlike timber decking, composite decking even comes manufactured in your chosen colour, meaning no treating, staining or painting is required.

Buy Composite Decking Near Me – Dino Decking Supplying Across The UK

Ready to get started with your composite decking project, or have any more questions that you need help with?

Dino Decking is a UK based supplier of composite decking. You can reach our customer team at any time by giving us a call on 01942 355968 or dropping us an email at support@dinodecking.co.uk.

As well as giving us a call, if you’re local to Wigan you can also visit our showroom to see our decking in person.

Based elsewhere in the UK? Order your free sample of Dino Decking today, and we’ll send you a beautiful range of our decking options.

Alternatively, if you’re ready to get started, head to our composite decking page to select your items and check out. We deliver across the UK.

You can also download our brochure to browse our full range of products.

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