No job too big or small

Professional Builder magazine, June

Published: 20/07/2009 00:00

The summer is a great opportunity for the Trade Professional, potentially providing landscaping work on both a residential and commercial basis.  Many people are considering ways to revive their outdoor spaces and every project presents its own landscaping challenges. A versatile option such as timber decking can provide the ideal means of tackling a range of different types of jobs, whatever the size. Andy Fensome of Finnforest follows the progress of two very different deck projects.

All gardens are different in design and are used in various ways. Most have an area set aside for summer dining and entertaining. Whether it is to create a new landscaped surface or revive a tired space in need of a new look, decking provides the Trade Professional with an opportunity to offer a multitude of options in terms of design, size and aesthetic. Because it is so adaptable, decking can be used to fulfil a multitude of different needs.

Big Job
A large family garden in Hertfordshire features a swimming pool surrounded by old grey pavers. A new surface was needed to improve the underfoot safety around the pool whilst reviving the garden’s overall appearance.

“The old hard standing around the pool had become cracked and its age meant that when the pool was in use the pavers became slippery, presenting a safety risk, plus they looked a little dated,” explained the owner.

Firstly timber joists were laid over the old paved area – this provided an ideal firm substrate to build up from. GrasseDeck and traditional deck boards were then laid over the structure and trimmed neatly, further adding to the shape and style of the swimming pool. Interestingly, GrasseDeck was selected for its striking ‘turf-like’ appearance, to blend in with the rest of the lawn in which the swimming pool area is set. Trim head screws were ‘face fixed’ directly onto the board, providing an almost invisible surface fixing. The textured grooved surface of the deck boards provided suitable slip resistance for this type of application.

Because decking can be erected over an existing surface, it is a relatively quick and cost efficient way to achieve a fresh new look for any garden. For example this project took two men four days to complete and the owners were impressed with the transformation over such a small space of time. When considering this type of large-scale application it is important to think about the desired result. Because decking is available in a number of different finishes, from classic softwood to hardwood and heat treated timber too, it is possible to achieve a very unique installation to blend with the overall landscaping design theme. Decking is readily available and it is lightweight, versatile for a wealth of projects and relatively inexpensive when compared to alternative materials.

Andy’s Tip: Use trim head screws for a finish flush to the surface of the deck boards. This is an ideal health and safety consideration, and will also give a very clean and professional looking finish. 

Small Job
At the other end of the scale, decking lends itself to those smaller outdoor spaces where a durable surface can be accessorised to create a homely and relaxing outside area. This town-centre courtyard, leading from the main living area of the house, is an integral part of the home, but the old paved area needed refreshing with a modern new look.

“Turf was not an option,” explains the owner, “The outdoor area is accessed from the living room and needed to be easy to clean, low maintenance and durable.”

Thermowood deck boards were selected and again the decking was simply installed over the existing hard surface with a joist framework to provide an instantly contemporary designer appearance.

The durability of Thermowood makes it the ideal decking for areas where a modern look is desired. Its rich brown colour is achieved in the process of kilning the timber at temperatures exceeding 200ºC. Thermowood is a great alternative to hardwood at a fraction of the price and the beauty is that the timber is chemical free and durable enough to weather naturally, or it can be regularly oiled to enhance its rich brown colour.

To further enhance the space energy efficient lights were installed flush with the surface of the decking. They provide an atmospheric daytime to night-time extension of the home for the owner but this feature is something that can be achieved in very little time yet reap bigger benefits for the tradesman.

Andy’s Tip: Be aware of the many different decking material options on offer and consider adding value to the project with accessories like balustrading and bespoke features such as seating made from left over deck and joist material.

Decking continues to be a popular choice with customers. For the Trade Professional, understanding the different options available means that there will always be a versatile and attractive option for whatever landscaping challenge arises. The speed of installation means that this is also a great way for the tradesman to make a better margin on a landscaping project.