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Trying to decide between stone paving and timber decking for your outdoor space?

Both decking and paving can provide a functional outdoor area for entertaining, relaxation or play. They can also work seamlessly with interior and architecture to visually connect the two spaces and create flow from inside to outside.

There are some key differences between stone paving and timber decking that may help you decide which material is best for you.

Differences between stone paving & timber decking

The key difference between stone and decking lie in materiality and construction
The key difference between stone and decking lies in materiality and construction

Materiality

The obvious difference between stone paving and timber decking lies in the materiality.

Decking is either made from natural timber or from a composite material. There are various types of timbers used as decking including Treated Pine, Jarrah, Blackbutt and Spotted Gum. There are also stains you can use to change the color to suit your aesthetics and protect the timber long-term. Timber decking is also available in different widths and lengths to suit your application.

Stone paving, on the other hand, is made from varying types of stone. As with timber, the range is vast from Granite and Bluestone to Travertine and Limestone. Unlike timber, stone is available in a range of different formats and has greater flexibility when it comes to creating unique patterns. Stone paving is also available in a variety of finishes to suit the application, for example, a non-slip finish for wet areas such as a bathroom or pool.

Construction

The other main difference between the two materials is the methods of construction required.

Timber decking is always an elevated structure, whereas paving is constructed at ground level. This is why decking is an obvious choice for verandahs or sloping sites. This construction technique is relatively simple, using posts as a support.  If you opt for stone paving for a sloping site, you’ll need to excavate and construct a retaining wall before paving. Keep in mind, this can cause a significant increase in labor costs.

One advantage of laying natural stone on the ground is that it can create a seamless transition from the interior to the exterior. Ground preparation will be required to ensure the substrate or foundation is suitable and it will affect the quality of the flooring. If you opt for timber decking close to ground level, preparation will also be required to ensure good drainage so the timber doesn’t rot. It also helps to limit weeds/grass growing through the gaps in the decking and prevent pests like termites breeding underneath.

Stone paving & timber decking Pros & Cons

The pros and cons of timber decking
The pros and cons of timber decking

Timber Decking Pros

  • Provides a natural aesthetic
  • Typically a less expensive material than stone
  • Construction costs can be cheaper
  • Suitable for slopping sites, uneven terrain or elevated applications

Timber Decking Cons

  • Constructing on a ground level requires more preparation
  • Requires maintenance and has a reduced lifespan
  • Limited choice of formats and patterns
  • Permits are likely required
The pros and cons of natural stone paving
The pros and cons of natural stone paving

Stone Paving Pros

  • Provides a natural aesthetic
  • Can use the same material inside and out
  • A wide range of colors, formats and textures
  • Less maintenance and longer durability
  • Suitable for a variety of applications
  • Permits typically only required for driveways or areas where water runoff is an issue

Stone Paving Cons

  • A greater upfront cost
  • Creating a substrate/foundation can be more involved
  • Requires more extensive construction for slopping or elevated applications

Choosing stone paving or timber decking

Key things to consider when choosing between stone, timber or both
Key things to consider when choosing between stone, timber or both

When choosing between stone paving and timber decking, you’ll want to take into account a few factors:

  1. The look you’re trying to achieve and how it relates to the architecture
  1. How you wish to use the space
  1. Your overall budget
  1. The characteristics of your site

Still can’t decide? It’s worth speaking to a stone and decking specialist to discuss what material is most suitable. However, remember, you can also combine both materials in the one space if you can’t choose between the two!