Decking can transform your outdoor space into an idyllic sun trap and enhance the functionality and appearance of your garden. By creating a multi-purpose outdoor space for relaxing, entertaining or even working, you’ll find that decking encourages you to spend more time outside and enables you to make the most of your garden.
What’s more – installing decking isn’t a difficult job, once you know how to do it, that is! Of course, the first question everyone asks is, which way should decking be laid, and the answer might surprise you.
In this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to install a fabulous deck (including which way decking should be laid!) and give you five must know tips to help simplify (and speed up) the installation process…
1. Ridge Side Up? Wrong!
Before you start thinking about whether decking should be laid vertically or horizontally, focus on which way up the planks are going to sit. It’s commonly believed that decking should be installed ridge side up, but this is actually incorrect.
People assume that the ridges offer extra grip, hence why so many people install decking ridge side up. However, if you’re wondering which way should decking be laid, then the answer is actually ridge side down.
The ridges are there to help prevent mould and rot, not to provide extra grip underfoot, and placing the decking ridge side down will help to keep it in good condition. What’s more – the smooth side of the decking will be more comfortable underfoot and be much more aesthetically pleasing so it’s a win-win!
2. Choose a Deck Pattern
The deck pattern you use will have a major effect on the visual of your new garden feature, so explore all the options before you decide what’s right for the space. For inspiration, take a look at some of the most popular deck patterns now:
Most decks use horizontal planks that run in the same direction as nearby structures. If you’re installing a deck that adjoins your home, for example, horizontal decking will run alongside the property.
This pattern is arguably the easiest to recreate, which might be one of the reasons it’s so popular with DIY enthusiasts! However, it also offers enhanced stability and a contemporary finish, so it’s a great option if you want a modern and durable deck that will stand the test of time.
Vertical decking runs perpendicular to the property it adjoins. So, if you’re placing a deck next to your home, vertical boards will run away from the structure towards the garden area.
Vertical decking can make the space feel larger than it really is, so it’s a good way to maximise space in smaller gardens.
Again, vertical decking is easy to install, so you’ll have no problems incorporating this type of feature into your garden. Providing you have the right tools to hand; you can install vertical decking quickly and simply!
Consider a diagonal pattern if you want to create decking that adds visual interest and elevates your garden design. While it’s a little more complicated than laying a deck with horizontal or vertical boards, it’s not too complex for the average DIYer.
When installing diagonal decking, you’ll need to cut more boards to length as there will be variations in the required length of each board. Despite this, the style of the finished deck will enhance the surrounding space, with the diagonal pattern offering a chic and contemporary feel.
A chevron pattern truly gives your deck that edge and creates visual interest in the way the boards lie against one another. To create a chevron-style deck, you’ll need to place short boards at 45-degree angles to create a zigzag formation.
Creating a chevron pattern can seem difficult at first but, once you’ve got the measurements right, laying the boards and installing the deck is easier than it seems.
The beauty of a chevron pattern is that it works in both contemporary and traditional gardens. While the pattern itself may be centuries old, the smooth lines and sharp points make it feel modern and fresh.
At first glance, a herringbone pattern may seem similar to a chevron style, but the difference lies in the angle of the boards. Herringbone patterns use a 90-degree angle, with the vertical end of one board abutting the horizontal edge of another.
Although a herringbone pattern can look spectacular, it does make designing and installing your deck a little more complicated. If you’re adventurous, however, then grab the tape measure and start planning a herringbone pattern for new your garden feature!
A picture frame pattern makes your deck much more interesting than a straightforward vertical or horizontal design and it’s deceptively easy to achieve.
Use horizontal decking for the majority of your deck, with two rows of vertical decking as a ‘frame’ around the edges. In addition to this, you can break up the horizontal decking by adding two vertical transition boards in the centre of the deck.
Not only do I love the way a picture frame deck looks, but I really appreciate how easy they are to install. With a picture frame style, you can make your deck pattern pop without opting for an over-complicated design.
3. Get the Right Frame
Joists will lie underneath the deck boards to add height and provide support, so you’ll need a decking frame that secures the joists. While you could make your own, it’s much easier to purchase a ready-made deck frame with the joists already in place.
However, do make sure that the deck frame you choose matches the pattern you want to use. Horizontal or vertical patterns can be used with a standard, single-joist frame, for example, but a chevron or herringbone design will require two joists where the boards meet.
The frame you choose will affect which deck patterns you can use, so be sure to select a frame that matches the style of deck you’re aiming for.
Remember – clear the ground before you place the frame and make sure the area is free from debris that could affect the stability or durability of the decking.
4. Wood vs Composite?
As well as figuring out which way the should decking be laid, you’ll also need to decide what materials to use to build your new deck.
Wood is a traditional choice and it’s popular amongst many homeowners, but it can succumb to moisture damage and rot over time. If you choose a timber deck, you’ll need to treat it semi-regularly to protect it from damage. For example, decking protector sealant can be applied to wooden decking boards to help prevent them from rotting.
Remember – hardwoods and pressure-treated softwoods will last longer and provide a more durable feel underfoot if you’re opting for a timber deck.
Composite decking is becoming increasingly popular due to its versatility and reliability. Generally made from a mixture of wood and plastic, composite decking is a low-maintenance alternative to timber. As composite decking doesn’t warp or rot, it doesn’t need to be treated on a regular basis.
As composite decking is available in a wide range of colours and styles, it’s easy to bring your exterior design ideas to life. By choosing composite decking made from recycled plastic, you can even opt for an eco-friendly deck that offers sustainability and style.
5. Adding Décor to Decking
Once you’ve done the hard work and your new deck is fully installed, it’s time to have fun by adding décor and creating an outdoor idyll. Whether you’re installing a compact deck to enhance a courtyard or an expansive deck to elevate a sprawling garden, you’ll want to ensure that it’s fitted out with a variety of accessories, such as:
Add to the ambience with flickering fairy lights or solar-powered spotlights integrated into your decking. If you want to avoid installing electrics outdoors, choose battery-powered or solar-powered lights for your deck.
Create an intimate feel when you secure extra privacy with decorative pergolas or trellises. A great backdrop for climbing plants, you can create a tropical oasis when you integrate vertical frames onto your deck.
From earth-inspired rattan to contemporary metals, you’ll need outdoor furniture to make the most of your new space. For maximum flexibility, opt for modular designs that can be modified to create extra seating space when you’re entertaining.
For the ultimate outdoor entertainment area, transform your deck into an al fresco dining space. With outdoor rugs, garden dining furniture, ambient lighting, you can create a spectacular dining area that allows you to enjoy every minute of the summer sun.
Ready to Install New Decking?
Now you know which way decking should be laid, what patterns to choose from and how to decorate your deck, you’ve got all the info you need to start your next project! From simple horizontal and vertical styles to intricate herringbone and picture frame patterns, decking is the easiest way to enhance the design and functionality of your garden, so what are you waiting for?!