A buying guide to paving and decking

You can add character and definition to your outdoor living space by paving your garden or adding a decked area. This guide will help you choose the right materials and tools required, as well as offer a little practical advice.

Before you begin

  • What sort of space is it? The type of outside flooring you choose all depends on what you'll be using the space for. An ornate pathway, a dining area or a driveway - all very different needs, requiring very different materials.
  • Where is the paving or decking going to be placed? Sitting or dining areas can be in any part of the garden, but for convenience, are usually located next to the house.
  • Are you prepared? If you're carrying out the work yourself, then it's best to design, plan and prepare the area before you begin any work. It will save you time and money in the long run.
  • Do have all the necessary tools? Having a decent tool kit will make life much easier for you. If you're not sure what you need, we've added a list of possible tools for each job.

Why choose paving?

Hard paving or landscaping provides a durable, long-lasting weatherproof surface that you'll be able to enjoy for many years to come. Whilst it can be more expensive than decking, and can be more labour-intensive to install, a well-laid patio or paved area can be both an attractive and functional addition to your home a garden. With decorative edging and walling, you can add those perfect finishing touches to your paving that will compliment and enhance the rest of your outside space.

  • Paving slabs

    The most traditional option, single paving slabs are easy to lay in geometric patterns and suit all budgets. Choose textured slabs to add interest and colour to a patio, or select real stone to a high-quality finish that will last for many years to come.

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  • Circular and curved paving

    Try curved paving slabs to create decorative features or compact patios to fit smaller spaces.

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You can help create the perfect outdoor space by adding paving to your garden. You can use concrete slabs, paving blocks, reclaimed stone or even gravel.

Laying paving

There are four basic steps to laying paving:

  1. Lay a retaining edge
  2. Cover the base with sand
  3. Lay the paving blocks
  4. Fill the joints

You will find full step guides and advice on paving your garden at DIY.com. Use our online calculator to work out how many paving tiles you require. Plus get hints and ideas on our YouTube channel.

B&Q YouTube channel
Paving calculator

Laying patio

A patio can transform your garden into a wonderful outdoor living area. It can be used for relaxing in the sunshine or as a dining area for BBQs and parties.

If you are laying a patio yourself for the first time, there are five steps you should follow:

  1. Plan your garden
  2. Prepare the base
  3. Set the fall
  4. Lay the slabs
  5. Fill the joints

You'll find full details on all these steps at diy.com. Plus watch how to videos at www.youtube.com/bandq.

What you'll need

Why choose decking?

Decking is a great solution for many outdoor spaces as it can be easily adapted to suit unlevel surfaces and requires less hard landscaping than laving paving. Deckboards are available in a wide range of materials which make it easy to select the right product for your budget and needs. See our guide below for more information. Don't forget that we also have a wide range of steps, posts, rails and other accessories to add safety and style to your decked area.

  • Softwood

    Classic decking style, warm colour tones and soft to touch. Softwood blends comfortably into the surrounding landscape.

  • Hardwood

    For a quality finish, hardwood is hard to beat. Extremely durable, easy to maintain and weather resistant.

  • Composite

    Made from recycled timber and PVC, tough, durable and almost maintenance free. Special screws and fixing clips making them easy to lay.

  • Thermodeck

    Heat treated Scandinavian softwood sourced from sustainable forests. An environmentally friendly process produces a tough, water resistant finish which will last for at least fifteen years.

  • Grassdeck

    Deck in sympathy with its green surroundings, soft enough for sunbathing and tough enough for children to play. A funky new look but practical too.

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As well as creating a new outdoor living space, decking will add warmth and texture. Even the smallest of decks can change how your garden is used.

Laying the decking

Creating a decked area is relatively simple with the correct planning and some good tools. Here's how:

  1. Design the deck
  2. Prepare the site
  3. Choose your boards - see below
  4. Assemble the frame
  5. Lay the deck boards

B&Q YouTube channel
How to guide

What you'll need

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Paving and decking FAQ

Do I need planning permission?
A very large deck or paved area might need planning permission, so if in doubt check this with your local authority.
What if the ground is wet?
If you are working on a potentially wet site, then you should raise decking off the ground using concrete pads.
What if I wan to use environmentally friendly products?
At B&Q, we work hard to ensure we only use wood that comes from sources that are backed by schemes which certify that the forests are well-managed. The FSC® or PEFC symbols give you that assurance. Look out for them on our products.
How many deck boards do I need?
For a deck measuring 4mx4m you will need 112m of 150mm wide deck board. If the deck boards you want come in 2.4m lengths, divide 112 by 2.4 = 46.7 so you should buy 47 boards.

Keeping decking look good

It's important to use a decking cleaner twice a year to remove the moss, mould, algae and general grease and dirt.

Remove any loose moss or algae with a brush, then scrub the surface using a decking cleaning product. Leave to stand as indicated on the product packaging before rinsing the deck clean. Pressure washers can also be a useful tool removing stubborn dirt and moss.

A decking restorer can then be applied to restore it back to its original colour prior to applying a protective treatment, such as a decking stain or exterior varnish.

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Paving can be heavy, so if you're laying slabs of 600mm x 600mm or larger, you must have help to lift and lay them. We also recommend wearing safety gloves when moving slabs, and eye and ear protection if you are cutting paving to size.

You'll find a great choice of safety equipment and clothing in-store and online at diy.com, including protective eyewear, gloves and dust masks.

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