How to choose outdoor flooring for your garden

Choose between natural stone, tiles and decking for a functional, long-lasting outdoor space.

By Andrea Manley | 8 July 2020

Getting outdoor flooring right will ensure you have a functional, durable space. Find out whether you should choose decking, tiles or stone with this concise guide.

Top Image: Mandarin Stone’s Industry Sand tiles recreate the look of natural stone in porcelain, which is easier to maintain. 

A decision on flooring for an outdoor space needs to consider a different range of factors than the interior of your home.

Exposed to the elements, durability is a key concern, alongside which each type of material has to offer the look of your landscaping project.

Take a look at the key options, including the pros and cons of each for your garden.

Decking

outdoor space with wood kebony decking - grand designs - home improvements

Image: This Character Malmoya smooth terrace decking board from Kebony is made from FSC-certified Scots pine and modified with a bio-based liquid. 

Timber brings character and a relaxed, natural look to your garden. For durability and to avoid warping and cracking, invest in high-quality FSC-certified wood. Buy from a reputable supplier that offers good guarantees of performance, and look out for a recognised accreditation scheme such as DeckMark.

Solid hardwoods such as oak, cedar and iroko are expensive but long-lasting and hardwearing. Pressure-treated softwoods such as pine or redwood that have been impregnated with wood preservative are a less expensive, reliable alternative. Timber decks should be sealed every other year to prevent rot and any stains, or paint on wood will need to be refreshed periodically. Boards with a smooth finish look contemporary while ribbed or grooved ones have a more traditional appearance. The wood used to construct the deck’s frame is equally as important, so make sure you choose pressure-treated wood.

Modified wood decking, such as Kebony, combines classic beauty with increased durability, hardness and UV-resistance. Innovative technology permanently modifies sustainable softwood species, resulting in a timber that performs to the level of hardwood. It requires little maintenance and can be left to weather naturally to a silver grey patina, or protected to enhance its natural brown colour. Look for companies that adhere to sustainable and responsible sourcing.

If a deck is higher than 30cm above ground level install balustrades. You may need planning permission, so check with your local authority.

Composite decking

modern garden with exterior composite decking - grand designs - home improvement

Image: Havwoods’ composite decking won’t warp, splinter or rot, delivering a durable outdoor surface that will withstand the elements, all year round.

Composite decking is an eco-friendly alternative to wood, made from recycled materials including timber, sawdust and reclaimed plastics. Premium designs boast the aesthetics of real wood combined with durability, and UV- and scratch-resistance.