A spin-off effect of the pandemic is a huge jump in spending on garden improvements. The average household has spent £4,000 during the last year, on things like garden rooms, landscaping and decking.
It has had a big impact on the housing market too. The garden has overtaken the kitchen as the most important part of the property, according to keyword search data from both Zoopla and Rightmove, so those looking to sell would benefit from an outdoors upgrade. Unfortunately, demand is outstripping supply, with certain materials like timber hard to come by. It means that people are exploring alternatives, with some high-performing, advanced products still available.
All hands-on deck
Decking is high on the list of desired improvements. It makes an immediate impact on an outdoor space and provides a very practical, usable area within a relatively short timeframe.
For those looking for a low maintenance product that will stand the test of time, Millboard decking is perfect. A non-timber composite that combines the natural beauty of real wood with the high performance of polyurethane, it is recognised for its strength and durability and will not rot, warp or deteriorate.
It has a unique Lastane surface which provides slip-resistance even in wet conditions and it is non-porous, which prevents algae growth. The top layer is scratch and stain resistant too.
The decking is moulded from real oak, leaving a unique pattern that perfectly replicates the woodgrain. It is available in a variety of tones, providing an effective natural look which is helped by its 'lost head' Durafix fixings that are virtually hidden.
A room with a garden view
There has been a significant jump in planning applications for garage conversions (25.3%) and garden buildings (7.5%) as people expand beyond their home.
Accoya wood is well suited to garden buildings. Used in structures such as greenhouse frames, pergolas and arbours, it is a modified wood. It undergoes a process called acetylation, which effectively pickles the wood (it is treated with a derivative of vinegar which stops the cells being able to absorb water). The result is a product just as strong as a hardwood. With a warranty of up to 50 years, it offers the highest levels of performance on the market. As well as structural projects it can also be used for garden furniture such as tables, chairs, planters and landscaping.
Finding the right cladding
There are a range of cladding options that provide the perfect final finish for garden buildings, whether looking for a traditional wood effect or a more contemporary style.
Naturally modified wood is a great option. One of the most popular is ThermoWood, which sees Finnish pine and spruce undergo a high temperature treatment that results in a more durable and stable product.
At the premium end is Accoya cladding, which has all the hallmarks of the timber described earlier. However, as well as the standard Accoya cladding range, there is the Finish Line Collection. Exclusive to Lathams, it brings timber engineering company Dresser Mouldings and Canadian coating specialist Sansin to the team to create a market leading product.
The manufacturing process sees the Accoya wood profiled, surface finished and coated by the team at Dresser Mouldings. This creates a key on the timber’s face, with tiny variations in texture allowing Sansin’s ultra-low VOC coating to penetrate beneath the surface of the timber. The advantage is that this helps to bind it to the cells and prevents peeling and cracking.
The cladding arrives on-site factory finished, front, back and ends, effectively encapsulating the timber in a breathable envelope. It comes in 12 unique colours that can be finished either brushed or sanded, the latter creating a distinctive two-tone effect.
A solid addition to the garden
Finally, for that extra impact, furniture and decorative features are a great place to invest. There are a range of innovative solid surfaces that can be used for those who want to be a bit more creative in their gardens.
Many of these mimic other materials, with stone effects one of the more popular options. These are made by combining stone dust with technical additives, resulting in a product that offers a masonry feel with plenty of flexibility.
Examples include LG’s, HI-MACS, the Aristech Avonite and Studio Collections. Purchased in standard sheets, they are thermoformable. This means that they can be molded to fit any shape, offering plenty of opportunity for experimentation.
Providing a non-porous and completely smooth surface, they are available in a wide range of finishes, such as concrete, marble and stone - perfect if you want to add some variety.
Solid surfaces are often used for furniture, such as chairs and tables, as well as functional areas like exterior cladding and panelling. Its versatility means that it can even be used for decorative features such as sculptures and lighting installations.
To find out more about these and other innovative materials suitable for the outdoors visit: www.lathamtimber.co.uk/