Imagine having breakfast alfresco as you read the Sunday papers, or catching the last rays of sun as you wind down after a hard day at work. Creating functional areas out of unused space is just one of the many benefits timber decks and paved outdoor areas provide.

Top Deck

Do you wish you could entertain friends more often but don’t have a big enough home? Would you like to extend your living space but can’t bear the financial or mental stress? Do you wish you could spend more time enjoying the sights, sounds and aromas of your garden?

Timber decking is a great way to make stylish, level areas for all your external entertaining needs. Decking can also invigorate the way you use your outdoor environment, with tricky sites like sloping embankments suddenly made available for summer barbecues.

Durability is a key factor when choosing timber for your deck, not only for safety reasons but also longevity. Factors like growth rate, harvesting time, processing techniques, and geography can all affect strength so it pays to do your homework before committing to a particular type of timber.

David Hayward from the Australian Timber Flooring Association says that while a number of species are suitable for outdoor decking, they do need to be resilient. “This includes many hardwoods with narrower sapwood (outer wood beneath the bark) that has been appropriately treated, as well as many softwoods – as long as the wider sapwood is also appropriately treated,” David explains.

Timber TLC

An outdoor deck that has not been protected against the weathering effects of sun and rain will not only fade to a drab, grey color but also likely split and distort. All timber decks need to be maintained and the frequency depends of the type of protective finish, how exposed the deck is, and the timber species used.

One coat of water repellent preservative or oil based primer, along with an additional coat of a timber finish should be applied to the top surface of joists prior to fixing.
After the deck has been constructed, additional coats should then be applied according to the manufacturers instructions. Wattle and Cabots produce an attractive array of timber finishes, while brands like Ecowoodoil use natural plant oils to protect timber from wet rot, UV rays, and splitting. In fact, Ecowoodoil’s ingredients are CO2 neutral and 100 per cent environmentally sustainable.

To prevent timber surfaces from becoming slippery when wet, add Intergrain UltraGrip to your timber finish. This new product creates a textured surface that is ideal for stairways, thoroughfares and pool surrounds.

Expert versus DIY

There are countless companies on the market who specialize in designing and building outdoor decks, enabling you to customize just the right look for your property. Professional installers bring a wealth of knowledge to each job so you don’t have to worry about every single detail. A simple scan of ‘landscape contractors & designers’ in your local Yellow Pages should get you started.

DIY decks come in all shapes and sizes, from easy-to-assemble systems like Freedom’s Decking Wooden Tiles to more sophisticated set ups. Timber Queensland Decks has a useful information sheet titled ‘Residential Timber Decks’ that outlines key issues such as timber selection, termite protection, and maintenance.

Paving Plus

Another way to enhance your outdoor living, and maximize the amount of time you spend in your garden, is with paving. There is an incredible range of man-made and natural stone pavers that cover all sort of DIY needs. From blonde sandstone to classic brick and rustic terracotta – the color variations are as diverse as their applications.

The big design trend that sees no sign of waning is the integration of indoor and outdoor, and pavers are a great way to link your home with your garden. It can be as simple as matching pathway pavers to what you use inside, or using step treats and pool coping to create a seamless transition between spaces.

If you want to ensure natural stone products, such as pavers, statues and retaining walls stay looking like new for years to come, then it’s important to protect them with a durable sealer. It’s the only way to avoid scale, soap scum, dirt, grease, corrosion and mould from prematurely ageing the look of your paving.