A natural extension of the home, today’s pools need to blend seamlessly with architectural elements to create a backyard oasis for year-round enjoyment.
Given the plethora of choices, determining the best decking option for a client means asking a few simple questions at the outset. The ultimate construction material will be guided by how the pool owners intend to use the space and the type of lifestyle needs that usage will incorporate. Taking the following into account will assist in determining the best choice:
- Is the decking material fire safe?
- How important are aesthetics?
- Will the material adequately resist salt and/or chlorine?
- What level of slip resistance does it offer?
- Is it safe to walk on?
- Is it pet friendly?
There are four main decking material options, each with strengths and weaknesses that will guide application suitability.
Timber decking is generally available in one of three types: pine, rainforest merbau or hardwood. While it is a beautiful decking option from an aesthetic viewpoint, timber does require extensive ongoing maintenance. It needs painting or oiling every six to 12 months and stripping and re-sealing every three to four years. While it offers great dimensional stability, it is subject to shrinking and warping, has a poor fire-safety rating and ranks poorly in terms of salt and chlorine resistance. Timber will naturally deteriorate over time.
Composite decking is a manufactured option, usually produced locally in Australia or offshore in either China or the United States. Chinese and Australian composites tend to fade rapidly and possess some dimensional stability issues. US-manufactured composites feature a higher plastic content, which delivers a greater level of durability but also tends to retain heat, making it difficult to walk on barefoot after prolonged sun exposure. Composites trail behind other material alternatives when it comes to slip and chemical resistance. They also have a poor fire-safety rating.
Fibre cement sheet and tiles
Fibre cement sheet and tiles offer a visually distinct alternative to traditional decking options. A durable, pet-friendly option, a sheet and tile solution is a water-resistant offering that requires little or no maintenance, although can present a slip issue when wet. This option is particularly suitable for bushfire-zone areas (BAL FZ).
Aluminium offers strength and durability, requiring little or no maintenance. Today’s manufacturing and finishing techniques deliver a product that features a strong box-section extrusion and anti-slip polyurethane powder coating with a finish that mimics the natural look of timber. Powder coating sublimation technology produces a finish that requires no maintenance, painting, sanding or oiling and is comfortable to walk on as it retains no heat. A non-combustible option, aluminium is capable of withstanding harsh environmental conditions and chemical contact.
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for decking, but factoring in the full range of project conditions and customer lifestyle requirements early in the process will help deliver the optimum choice, allowing your client to enjoy their outdoor space all year round.
Creating a backyard oasis takes considered planning and good design.
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