Decking or Paving: Which Should You Choose?

A question on many people's lips when they are looking to create a living area in their garden is whether they should base it around a decking area or a patio. We're going to try and shed light on what we feel the benefits and features of each option are and hopefully empower you to make the decision that's best for you!

We know we are a paving company, but paving is genuinely not for every project and we want to make sure you know why it may or may not be for you. We want happy customers, not customers with a patio they did not need or want.

Key Points When Choosing Decking or Paving

  • Decking is more affordable, quicker to install but doesn't last very long.
  • Paving slabs can be pricier, take longer to install but require little-to-no maintenance and will last for a long time.

How big is your job?

The first thing to do is measure how big the area you are decking/paving is. This will affect every other decision you make during the process, so start by measuring this up. It will make most other decisions easier during the rest of the process.

Measure the length and width of the area you are looking to cover with decking or paving to find the area. If it is an irregular shape or includes a path, split the area into separate rectangles and measure them individually before adding the totals together.

The Costs of Decking vs Paving

The first question to ask yourself is arguably the one we find the most difficult to discuss as British people - and this is how much money you have to spend on the project. By agreeing on a budget before construction starts, you are likely to be happier with the end result. It sounds crazy but the difference is often psychological - if you feel you have overspent, you are very likely to be more critical of the result. So by setting an honest budget, you can make peace with what you are able to afford and stop yourself from being extra critical where you don't need to be.

This is where having measured your space will have come in handy. If you know the size of the area you want to cover and you know your budget, you will know exactly what options suit you:

  • £25 - £35 per m2 - DIY cost for installing budget range decking.
  • £45 per m2 - DIY cost for installing a basic sandstone/limestone patio including all materials required such as sand & cement, jointing compounds etc.
  • £90 per m2 - Professionally installed medium quality decking.
  • £120 - £150+ per m2 - Professionally installed paving with high-quality materials.
rippon buff patio with pergola
Rippon Buff Indian Sandstone - Shop Here
This is a guide but isn't exhaustive in terms of the options it provides. There are so many combinations of material qualities, and the rates that tradespeople will give are different across the country. But the above is a guide that should help you work out which bracket may fit your budget. Use the below formula to work out where your budget fits - you can then tweak the budget as necessary.
Total Budget ÷ Area = Square Meter Budget

For example:

Your budget is £1,500 & the area you want to cover is 32 square meters:

£1500 ÷ 32 = £46.88 per square m2 available - this means you may have to commit to a DIY job unless you could increase your budget as it is unlikely you could get a trades-person to install either decking or paving for that price. However, you would have flexibility to use higher quality material if you wanted.

Overall, it's best to be honest with your budget for so many reasons. Once you know how far that budget will go, you can start to visualise the job at hand and appreciate what it may look like when it is finished.

Use our patio cost calculator for quick insights into how much paving may cost or alternatively read our full guide on patio costs.

What sort of timeframe do you have available for your project?

There isn't a huge amount of difference in installing decking vs paving. On average, paving takes 1 extra day to install per 20m2 area.

  • A 20m2 deck may take 2-3 days to install, whereas a patio may take 4 (1 extra day).
  • A 40m2 deck may take 3-4 days to install, whereas a patio may take 6 (2 extra days).

It's very uncommon that available time is so tight that you may need to opt for a timber deck rather than a patio, but it is something to consider.

Some large projects may be over 100m2 which means they could take a whole working week extra to install a patio over a deck. So it is worth considering.

masso grey porcelain paving patio with a white rendered wall
Masso Grey Porcelain Paving Slabs - View More Images

Garden Design - What do you want from the space?

Here's where your personal style and taste comes in. Once you are aware of your budget and the timescale you have in mind, then you can begin to get creative with the space. You need to decide what you want it to look like and how you need it to perform before deciding on whether to go with a deck or a patio.

First and foremost you need to decide on how much maintenance you want to do on the area. Do you want to create a low-maintenance space, or are you happy to spend time in your garden ensuring it's up to scratch?

Maintenance of Decking vs Paving


Paving is your go-to option here. It lasts a long time and as it ages, time only gives the slabs more and more character. The added expense upfront means you won't have to spend as much time maintaining it in the long run. There is no real lifespan of paving slabs - they will survive pretty much indefinitely.


Decking on the other hand requires a little more maintenance as it is much more susceptible to the weather. You can treat the timber every year or so to ensure the weather isn't going to cause too much damage and keep it looking as fresh as possible for as long as possible. Ultimately, however, decking has a limited lifespan, so if you want to do it once and do it forever, it may be worth considering paving.

Modern vs Traditional spaces: Should you go for decking or paving?


Patio slabs are the most traditional option. They look more rustic and natural and compliment an older house, cottage or barn conversion style properties. However, if you are on a budget, natural-looking or even reclaimed timber decking can be used.


A much more flexible style of space. Both decking and paving can be considered here but the key is to opt for something with a consistent colour. Decking suits well as it is always a single colour so compliments a modern space well. But higher-quality slabs like slate, granite or porcelain also suit a modern space perfectly.

The Best-of-both worlds?

There is a new product on the market that combines the look of timber with the longevity of paving slabs. These are vitrified, wood-effect porcelain tiles. Usually, available in 2 or 3 colours with mid-brown, dark brown and grey as the most common, this product means you can install something that looks like decking but that will survive indefinitely.

It's on the costlier side of the spectrum, but is certainly worth considering as it is a very unique solution!

wood effect porcelain patio slabs with a modern seating arrangement on top

In-Conclusion - is paving or decking the best option for you?

Hopefully, we've given you some advice on which may fit best. Overall it is about budget first, but then it ultimately comes down to style and taste. We have aimed to do is illustrate that both are legitimate options with decking working out as a slightly cheaper way to create an outdoor living area with paving acting as a more long-lasting option. The three steps below are easy to follow and will likely help you decide what you really want:

  1. Measure your space
  2. Agree to a budget.
  3. Decide on what you like best which fits your budget.

As always, if you have any questions, our trained advisers will always be happy to help. Either email us at or call us on 01733 810161 and we'll be happy to help!

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