Home Design Checklist: Decking & Paving FAQs
by Carlisle Homes
The right decking and pavers can elevate your home’s exterior and reduce the amount of maintenance required – here’s what you need to know.
Adding a deck or pavers is a great way to add to your home’s usable space and immediately gives you somewhere to set up a dining table or an alfresco sofa setting where you can entertain outdoors (or simply relax and enjoy the sunshine). But do you need council permission and which material is best?
In this Home Design Checklist post, we cover the most important things you need to know about installing decking and pavers. You can read a previous post in this series that looks at driveways.
Do you need a permit to put in a deck?
It depends on the situation. If you are building a deck over an existing porch or an alfresco concrete slab, you don’t need a permit. But once you exceed their original size by two square metres or more, you will need to get a permit.
It’s also important to note:
- You can’t run a deck over the top of an easement.
- Decks need to be located at least one metre away from your Lot’s boundary lines.
Do you need a permit to lay pavers?
No, you generally don’t need a permit to add pavers unlike a deck, paving doesn’t have footings.
It’s also good to know that you can pour a concrete paving slab over an easement and closer than one metre from a boundary without getting a permit. However, be aware that if authorised service providers need access to the easement, they are allowed to rip up your paving to access things such as pipes and underground cables.
What are the main options in decking materials?
The decking material you choose will not just affect the aesthetics of your outdoor area, but how much maintenance is required too.
The most common options are:
Solid timber: Real timber decking, such as Merbau or Cypress Pine, when stained they add warmth and natural appeal to your outdoor area. But it does require twice-yearly oiling to prevent it from discolouring or deteriorating (less so if it’s covered by a roof).
It’s important to keep moisture away from timber by laying decking at least 40-50mm away from a concrete slab it's laid on to provide sufficient airflow underneath it.
Composite: Timber-look composite decking, which is made from recycled plastic and wood shavings, comes prefinished and doesn’t require anything like the upkeep of the real thing. It does cost more up front than solid timber but savings in regular maintenance can be costly.
Composite decking varies in quality and appearance, so do your research before you buy. In particular, assess how the product weathers over time as some tend to fade and can look quite fake (most manufacturers have images on their website showing how the product weathers). Also check if there are sealer coatings available to keep the product looking its best.
Fibre cement: Fibre Cement product decking is the most durable option for outdoor areas, plus it’s more cost-effective than composite decking. It is moisture and fade resistant, can stand up to weather extremes, and requires less resealing than natural timber. It’s also splinter-free, which can be an advantage if you have young children. You can stain or paint fibre cement decking but be aware that it has a somewhat flat appearance, without the grain of natural timber
Tiles: Porcelain, ceramic, concrete and natural stone tiles are all durable and low-maintenance choices for outdoors. But be aware that they will need to be laid over a concrete base to limit movement and cracking over time. At Carlisle Homes, we recommend a concrete base for all our external balcony tiling and paving to limit future movement (although it can still occur) and we ensure that the paving falls away from the home to stop water ponding near footings.
What are the main options in pavers?
Natural stone: Travertine, bluestone, limestone, and other natural stone pavers are hardy options for outdoor areas and create a lovely, organic feel. Be aware that sandstone and some limestone options are more porous than other natural stones, and are prone to leaf and red wine staining and will most probably require regular sealing.
Concrete: Non-stone pavers, such as concrete, are generally more cost-effective and come in a variety of finishes and sizes to suit different exterior styles, including rustic, tumbled-edge pavers, contemporary, polished pavers, and ones that mimic the look of natural stone. They’re tough, weather and fade resistant, and will last for decades.
Brick: Clay bricks are extremely hard-wearing and long-lasting, and will add an earthy, textural feel to your alfresco space or front path. Plus, they sit beautifully alongside other natural materials such as timber and stone. You can lay them in different patterns to create a distinctive look, too.
To see all the latest outdoor trends and get ideas for your own home, visit one of our many display homes across Melbourne. It’s also a great opportunity to ask our team any questions you may have about designing your home’s front yard and exterior.