There’s nothing us Brits love more than a stylish patio, deck or terrace on which we enjoy our elusive summer. Family barbecues, Sunday snoozes or those long balmy evenings with friends(and wine) are indisputable highlights of the year. And, as a nation of homeowners, many of us are lucky enough to have an outdoor space to call our own. Whether you’re blessed with an expansive garden or must make do with a tiny concrete corner, there are countless ways to make the most of your precious little oasis. Getting your patio or deck in shape is a prudent financial investment. Estate agents and renovation experts universally agree that a well-designed patio or deck is a cost-effective way to increase the value of your home. But when it comes to designing your deck, don’t get bogged down by focusing on its size and the materials but consider its functionality, durability, safety, seating options and privacy. If you’re planning to build a deck or patio or just renovate an existing one, consult a contractor, carpenter or splash out by hiring a landscape architect. First things first, get yourself a free consultation with one of our registered experts.
When it comes to picking your patio floor, getting the right mix of stability, practicality and aesthetics is very important and at the same time, can be tricky. But there are a few tried-and-tested options that work well in the tempestuous British climate:
Wooden decking: This classic look is hard to beat, relatively inexpensive, and can be maintained easily if you’re prepared to fork out on a pressure washer. Just be careful when it rains, as wood can get slippy.
Gravel or pebbles: A simple, fail-safe option, gravel or pebbles have the added bonus of being cheap and readily available. They also cover a multitude of sins and require virtually no maintenance.
Concrete slabs: Another classic approach is to use concrete slabs for a durable, even surface. Experiment with crazy paving or try leaving gaps between the slabs if you’re after a more rustic aesthetic.
Shingle and slabs: Loose shingle and edge-perfect paving slabs are a match made in heaven as you get the benefit of easy-to-walk on surfaces as well as some natural texture.
Rustic stone: In a traditional garden, you really can't go wrong with some rustic stone slabs as your patio base. Endlessly durable, if a little unwieldy to install, they’ll provide a wonderful heritage finish.
Once the foundations are laid for your deck, the next thing to consider is the furniture you would like. Opt for hardy, weather-resistant materials that can be left out in the elements, minimizing the maintenance required.
Plastic: This versatile option is cheap, water-resistant and lightweight. Bright, stack-able chairs or table sets are a staple of most gardens—for good reason. Aluminium: Another light and easy-to-rearrange option. This rust-proof metal is easy to maintain with minimal effort.
Steel: A long-term investment, steel is extremely tough and sturdy. It doesn’t dent or scratch easily but any nicks should be immediately coated to prevent rusting.
Wrought iron: This classic material lends instant charm to any patio or deck, but its good looks come at a price: being iron, it’s inherently vulnerable to rust and its powder-coated seal must be maintained regularly.
Wicker: Wicker-style, or rattan furniture lends a pleasingly rustic aesthetic to your outdoor space. When treated with resin, it’s much more weatherproof, and doesn’t fade or crack in the elements.
Wood: You might be surprised to know how hardy certain woods can be, even throughout the winter months. Both teak and eucalyptus secrete natural oils which protect against rain damage naturally. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a good bit of wood?
Awning or gazebo: First things first, you’re going to need some kind of protection from the inevitable rain and occasional sun. Opt for a retractable awning or large parasol to keep things covered all year round.
Plants: Whatever the size of your patio, a little greenery never fails to make an impact. Simple evergreen shrubs, creepers, or wall-mounted flower pots will transform any space.
Fence or screen: You might love your neighbors, but you don’t want them peering in on you when you’re putting your feet up in the sun. So think about a tasteful screen, be it timber, wicker, brick or even a wall of ivy.
Lighting: No outdoor space is complete without some night-time illumination. From fairy lights, lanterns and candles in jars to bold architectural beams, there’s an option for every taste—and budget.
Extra features: Once the basics are in place, you’ll want to think about those extra additions. What are you going to use your patio for? If it’s for entertaining and dining, invest in a sturdy barbecue and some sociable seating. If you’re after a relaxing ambience, opt for a water feature or that hammock you’ve always wanted.