Would you rather be in your garden or yard than inside the house?
Do you wish your kids would get out in the fresh air more?
If you’re lucky enough to have some outdoor space, why not get creative to make the best use of it?
Adding a deck to your outdoor space is a super simple, practical way to encourage the whole family to spend more time outside. A solid deck gives you a wealth of possibilities to add interest and functionality to your garden. How about…
- A funky kitchen area complete with a barbecue or pizza oven for the budding chef?
- An elegant al fresco dining area to wow your friends and family?
- A lush chill-out zone with lounge seating and…. a hot tub?
- Somewhere cool to play a game with the kids or sip a margarita at the end of the day?
If you don’t already have a deck, or you’re looking to replace your existing deck, why not consider bamboo decking?
Let’s take a look at the practicalities of using bamboo decking and then compare it to some of the other products on offer.
Types of Bamboo Decking
Otherwise known as solid bamboo. Planks are made by laminating solid lengths of bamboo together. Multiple thin strips of bamboo are glued together and then subjected to high pressure to form decking that’s super strong.
You can see some examples of vertically laminated bamboo decking on Bamboo Home's inventory of BamDeck bamboo decking.
Fused or Engineered Bamboo
This decking is often known as Dasso or Moso as these are the two companies that lead the world’s manufacture of this type of decking board. Made by heating to remove much of the sugar contained in bamboo’s structure, fused bamboo is said to be stronger and more resistant to insects and decay than laminated bamboo.
If you like the idea of eco-friendly decking, then the idea of using composites may not immediately appeal. But I did find WPC composite decking that’s made out of bamboo waste fibers and recycled plastic bottles. It’s strong and long-lasting and has added water resistance.
Is Bamboo a Good Material for Decking?
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using bamboo to construct your decking…
- Choice: folks are latching on to how cool bamboo is, meaning there’s more choice than ever before.
- Affordable: bamboo decking is often cheaper than the alternatives.
- Strong: bamboo has a higher tensile strength than steel.
- Lightweight: being lighter than most woods, bamboo is easy to transport and work with.
- Long-lasting: if properly maintained, a bamboo deck can last up to 25 years.
- Easy to maintain: you don’t need to do much to keep your bamboo deck in good condition. We’ll look at how to do that in a later section.
- Eco-friendly: take a look at some of the reasons we love bamboo.
- It won’t last forever: as a natural product, it’s inevitable that bamboo won’t last forever. But, if you look after it, it will still last for ages.
- You’ll need to look after it: your bamboo decking will need some regular cleaning and maintenance to keep it in good condition (see the Maintenance section below).
Installing your new deck needn’t be a complicated affair. Follow a few essential steps to ensure your deck stays stable and hard-wearing for years to come…
- Prepare the area: make sure the surface underneath the deck is flat to avoid waterlogging. Use a root barrier to stop weeds from growing under your deck.
- Flashing: if joining your deck to your house or another structure, use good-quality flashing. This will stop water from seeping between the deck and the house and causing mold, dampness, or rot. Or leave a gap of around 20mm between the structures.
- Use a slope: if water sits on your deck for any length of time it may cause cracking. Install your deck with a slight slope of 1 – 2% (sloping away from other structures) to avoid this issue.
There are lots of amazing resources around to show you how to install your deck. We recommend following the instructions from your manufacturer where possible.
Here’s a neat film that shows the basics of how to install your bamboo deck…
Clean your bamboo deck with simple soap and water. Abrasive chemicals aren’t needed and using them doesn’t benefit the environment one bit.
Oiling your deck once a year with bamboo decking oil will maintain moisture resistance and keep it looking attractive too.
If you have a bamboo composite deck, check with your manufacturer for any specific instructions.
Here’s a video that shows how easy it is to install and maintain MOSO decking…
Alternatives to Bamboo Decking
Okay, that’s bamboo, but what about the alternatives? Let’s take a quick look at some popular decking products.
Perhaps the most common type of wooden decking. It’s easy to source and often pretty cheap. Using pressure-treated wood decking is a cost-effective option.
The chemicals used to preserve this type of wood protect it from rot and mold, but they aren’t always environmentally friendly. Check with your retailer before using this type of wood where small children or animals are likely to use the deck.
Pressure-treated wood also needs annual maintenance to keep it in good condition. If not, this type of deck can soon become green and slippery, especially if you get a lot of rain.
Redwood trees are huge and yield straight, strong wood that’s perfect for decking. This wood is resistant to boring insects and doesn’t need coating with chemicals to keep it in good condition. Basic cleaning and application of natural wood oil will keep redwood decking looking beautiful for years.
But reserves of redwood trees are limited. It can take up to 50 years for a redwood tree to reach 8 feet tall!
Compared with bamboo and pressure-treated decking, redwood decking can also be expensive.
Cedar decking is another popular option. Depending on your location of course. Like redwood, cedar is resistant to moisture and attacks by insects. Cedar is a beautiful wood that doesn’t need treating. But it does lose its color with age. Although it grows faster than redwood, cedar trees can still take up to 30 years to reach maturity.
Cedar can be expensive when compared with bamboo or pressure-treated wood.
Tropical hardwoods such as Ipe, Camaru, Cambara, and Tigerwood are known for their strength and resilience. This makes them perfect for decking.
Tropical hardwood decks look impressive but can be expensive. Outdoor decking is often comparable in price to indoor flooring.
Due to issues with overlogging, tropical hardwood is not always a sustainable option. Be sure to buy your wood from a sustainably managed source.
Composite decking is gaining in popularity as technology becomes more refined. This type of decking, like bamboo composite, is long-lasting and needs little maintenance. It can be competitively priced too. If you choose to buy composite decking, ensure it’s made from recycled materials.
Depending on where you live, you may need a building permit for your beautiful new bamboo deck. To be on the safe side, check with your local authority before you start construction.
Okay, so that’s bamboo decking. Let’s summarise what we’ve learned…
- There are 3 types of bamboo decking: laminated, fused, and composite
- It’s competitively priced
- Environmentally friendly and more sustainable than most alternatives
- Easy to install
- Simple and cheap to maintain and can last for around 25 years
- And it looks great!
Are you considering bamboo for your next decking project? If so, we’d love to hear from you and see some photos of your new deck.