Outdoor decking is the ideal addition for an al fresco experience. Choose the right timber and you will enjoy a seamless indoor-outdoor feel, but choose the wrong one and you could end up with an endless – and sometimes costly – maintenance schedule. Find out how to make the right choice from these experts.
“The right outdoor deck should be tough and durable, and be able to perform in all weather conditions,” says Gary Koh of Wood and Wood.
Taking key factors into consideration will ensure a longer-lasting installation, easier maintenance and an enduring love for your outdoor space, says Joyce Tan of Absolut Outdoors.
First, the weather. “Given Singapore’s hot and wet weather, outdoor decking is exposed to high temperatures and wet conditions frequently,” Joyce says. “Sometimes, heavy rain comes right after a bout of very hot weather, resulting in a lot of physical stress on the outdoor decking as it will go through quick bouts of expansion and contraction.”
Secondly, durability is a must. “Not all timber is suitable for outdoor use,” says Suzane Tan of Timplex. “Outdoor timber has a durability factor that protects [wet] timber against fungal attack.”
It also makes for an easier lifestyle. “Unless you are very conscientious about maintenance (polishing and varnishing natural wood decking), it is best to choose composite wood decking,” says Eileen Wong of Chip Lee Timber.
Apart from the timber itself, there are external factors to consider. Site conditions have an impact on the longevity of the decking. She adds that important questions to note are: “Is the area shaded, under a shelter, to be built on soiled ground, or directly exposed to sun and rain?”
If your decking is completely exposed, opt for wood species from tropical forests that can withstand heat and rain, rather than softer coniferous woods.
Shoring up your decking with concrete stumps is recommended if you are building on soiled ground, says Eileen. “This prevents moisture from underground affecting the timber directly.” Without the stumps, the deck is prone to creaking sounds over the years as its structure gradually sinks into the ground.
When it comes to installation, safety is a top priority. Although there are a variety of methods, “it is best to choose an installation system that eliminates static discharge during wet days”, Eileen advises.
Opt for an experienced installation team, Gary says. “Ensure that the supporting timber joist that holds up the deck is of a tropical hardwood species, as it best suits Singapore’s climate.”