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Whether you are looking to expand the outdoor living space of your home, or extend the outdoor consumer space in your commercial, retail or hospitality business, the installation of decking, whether on a patio, balcony, pool or Jacuzzi surround will provide you with the solutions you seek. Decking not only looks appealing and contemporary in any setting, but also adds value and functionality to under-utilised areas, allowing you to make the most of the space available to you. Decked balconies which extend the exterior living areas of the upper floors of double-storey homes have the distinct advantage of easy water run-off through the slats and consequent quick drying, thus extending their functionality during the rainy season.
Decking is particularly effective in areas such as swimming pool surrounds or pathways, particularly as it is softer underfoot than brick or stone, and dries more quickly, thus inhibiting the growth of mould or moss which can be extremely slippery and dangerous when walking bare-footed. Decking planks are either grooved to allow for easier water run-off or smooth finished. Decking may also be made up of grooved tiles, which may be laid in varying patterns for a highly individual and functional space.
Composite decking is engineered using different components, depending on the supplier. Some composite decking has a high percentage of recycled plastic bags and wrapping in its manufacture, whilst other suppliers may manufacture planks from reclaimed wood fibre and recycled polymer resins or recycled high density polyethylene. Yet another option is composed of 60% timber and bamboo and 30% recycled plastic. Any decking which is made of recycled materials is, naturally, good for the environment and is a cost-effective and eco-friendly choice. Composite decking may be composed of hollow-cavity planks, making them lighter in weight and easier to work with, but providing the same strength as solid wood. The major advantage of composite decking is its durability, fade, stain and scratch resistance, as well as providing a naturally inhospitable environment for the growth of mould. With modern engineering and staining processes, composite decking is available in a variety of natural colours which can be used to complement any style of building or house. As with natural wood products, each plank will vary slightly from the next, giving an overall impression of solid wood and individuality. Some highly experienced decking specialist companies may engineer or manufacture the planking itself, as well as designing and fitting the deck, whilst others may choose to use sourced ready-made materials.
Hardwood decking is extremely durable and structurally strong, as well as being highly weather-resistant.
It requires no special treatment other than regular cleaning. Reputable hardwood decking specialists source their materials from sustainably managed forests, either in South Africa or abroad, so whilst you are enjoying the beauty of your deck, you can be assured that the forests which provided the wood have been responsibly replanted. Where cheaper pine or softer wood is used, you need to ensure that the decking is laid according to strict guidelines which help to prevent warping, swelling, cracking or curling of the planks due to constant exposure to sun and rain. Bear in mind that wood decking does require regular maintenance and protective coatings to be applied to preserve the appearance and durability of the wood. Nonetheless, wooden decks, patios and pool surrounds will eventually deteriorate over the years due to age and weathering and have to be replaced at some point.
Cladding falls under the ambit of decking, as it can be manufactured from the same materials and may form a vertical continuation of a patio or deck, thereby visually extending and unifying an area. Cladding refers to a layer of material that is fixed on top of an existing external surface to provide protection from the elements. Cladding not only looks good, but can provide a degree of thermal and sound insulation, as well as being easy to clean, which is always an advantage and saves on repainting the area or using harsh chemicals to maintain cleanliness.
Decking specialists may be found easily through online searches, although some may fall under the umbrella of landscape gardeners or carpenters, so it is wise to broaden your search to include these categories. Reputable and top professional decking specialists will concentrate their expertise on designing and building decks, patios and pool surrounds and are the best choice for extensive, difficult or awkward projects which require a great deal of skill, knowledge and experience to design and construct. Some decking specialists have their own manufacturing factories and use only their own engineered materials, particularly in the field of composite and recycled decking. Your choice of supplier must necessarily take these factors into account. Online sites such as Uptasker are great time-savers in online search processes, as much of the legwork is done for you from one site. You will be able to check the supplier’s geographical location, online ratings and customer reviews, request quotes and click through to their websites without time-consuming searches. Alternatively, you can find decking specialists through many home catalogues and magazines, at home expos, newspapers and the Yellow Pages. Never forget word of mouth referrals, which cannot be under-estimated to provide you with honest feedback on reliability, quality of goods and service, advice and support, adherence to time and budget constraints and, if necessary, additional design services.
For the home-owner, your patio, deck or pool surround are there to provide you not only with additional and appealing external living areas, but also to add value and beauty to your home. Business owners rely on decking extensions to expand their visibility and provide more floor space in order to increase customer turnover and profitability. Such extensions are costly and disruptive, and need to look attractive, be functional and safe for all concerned. It pays to do your homework, choose your supplier carefully according to your needs, and ensure that the end result is one which will satisfy you for many years. For more tips, see our decking specialist articles.