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Read about the pros and cons of different decking alternatives and make sure you pick the right materials to create your own perfect patio.

So you’re thinking about creating an area of decking and wondering which materials to use to make the space work best for you? Obviously, there’s the budgetary issue to bear in mind – some decking alternatives are far easier on the pocket than others. However, don’t forget other, less obvious, considerations to take into account such as, how long the decking is going to look good for? How much maintenance will it require? And do you need it to be slip-resistant?

In this article, we’ll take you through six different decking alternatives, pointing out both the positive and negative points of each.

Natural Stone And Porcelain

Firstly, let’s start with one of the most expensive options. Natural limestone paving, slate or bluestone (and there are many more natural stone alternatives to choose from) all look magnificent when laid, but the process to get to the final result will be costly (both in terms of product and installation) and complex.

Natural stone, unlike other man-made decking alternatives, such as composite decking, needs to be sited on a solid base and this often requires lots of heavy excavation groundworks. And, if you are installing the stone decking yourself, you’ll need to be strong and experienced at handling this material as stone can be heavy, difficult to manoeuvre and not easy to cut.

Pros: Look great. Retains looks over time.
Cons: Expensive product. Complex to cut and lay. Weed growth will appear between stones. Surface often is uneven (making it unsuitable for anyone unsteady on their feet).

decking alternatives
alternative deck

Concrete Pavers

Concrete pavers are a cheaper alternative product to natural stone. These paving slabs come in a variety of shapes and colours, usually mimicking brick or natural stone. They can be set straight into sand which allows them to shift and, therefore, withstand certain temperature changes without cracking. Permeable pavers are also available – these allow rainwater to filter through, helping with on-site drainage.

The downsides to using concrete slabs for decking are many: they can fade or the surface pigment can get scratched (revealing bare concrete); the geometric shapes means there’s only a limited number of patterns that can be created; the spaces between the slabs allow for weed growth and can make them uneven to walk on.

Other alternative deck options can offer much better overall value for money and will wear better over time. Keep reading to find out which decking materials we recommend most highly.

Pros: Semi-permeable slabs can help with drainage.
Cons: Installation requires excavation. Slabs can look too uniform. Weed growth between pavers.

Poured Concrete

If you decide that concrete slabs are not for you, and you are looking for a super low-cost option, you could contemplate a patio made from poured concrete. Mixing your own cement and forming a deck means you can create any shape or size. However, you need to make sure you get your mix correct, as concrete is renowned for cracking and will be even more prone to do so if the mix isn’t exactly right.

Don’t use this option if you may, at some point in the future, need to get access to plumbing or power lines under the patio as you will have to remove the concrete to gain access.

Pros: Cheap product.
Cons: Not straightforward to install. Looks very stark. Needs regular washing to keep clean. Not likely to last without starting to deteriorate.

alternative decking
decking alternatives

PVC Decking

Plastic decking is often chosen because it is a cheaper option than its closest rival, composite decking. However, do remember that the lifetime costs of your decking should be considered – not just the product costs themselves. Plastic decking is, indeed, cheap to buy and install, but remember, you usually get what you pay for and this type of decking is renowned for warping, splitting and fading. There are alternative decking materials that come with 25 years guarantee.

Pros: Cheap to buy and easy to fit. No weed growth in between decking boards.
Cons: Looks like a cheap option. Splits and fades quickly. Non-slip resistant.

Timber Decking

Wooden decking looks great when first installed. However, do remember that it is high maintenance – needing treatment each year to prevent it splitting, cracking, fading, and rotting. Pressure-treated boards are more resistant but this treatment can warp the boards. There are better decking alternatives to timber and here’s a direct comparison of wooden -v- composite boarding.

Pros: Relatively easy to install. No weed growth in between boards.
Cons: Looks that diminish. High maintenance. Prone to insect damage.

decking alternatives to timber
decking alternatives to wood

Composite Decking

Composite decking boards make great decking alternatives to wood, and as the name suggests, are made up of a mix of recycled plastics and real wood fibres. This combination produces a superior material that is low maintenance and resistant to mould, mildew, cracking, splitting and warping. It’s weather-resistant, lightweight and doesn’t splinter or rot. This means any composite decking structure is going to be much sturdier and safer than a traditional wooden one.

So, if you are searching for a good, solid decking base which looks fabulous, is easy to install, comes in a variety of colours and specifications, AND is guaranteed for 25 years, then our range of NeoTimber decking boards are the ones for you. Our environmentally-friendly products simply tick all the pros boxes and none of the cons!

Pros: Ranges vary in cost (to suit your budget). Looks great. Low maintenance. Long life. Easy installation. No weed growth between boards.
Cons: Umm. None that we can think of!

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