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Composite decking and porcelain paving, side by side

Decking and paving: two quality outdoor surfaces, two equally excellent options. Since we have experience of both, we are often asked which of the two materials is better for the garden.

As with most decisions like this, there isn't a single, objective answer that we can give. Both choices have their unique merits, and at the end of the day, it mostly comes down to preference.

With this in mind, one good approach to this decision is to think about what kind of effect you want from the finished project. Generally speaking, a paved area lends itself to a smooth, contemporary style, while the natural-looking wooden boards are better for the more traditional outdoor space.

Limestone champagne garden paving

Of course, there are exceptions; some deck products are designed to look rather modern, and certain paving slabs boast a timeless, classical air. The best thing to do is as follows: decide what you want from your outdoor space, consider how you would like it to look and feel, and proceed from there, investigating as many different colours and designs as possible to ensure that you get the right one.

Now, some people might tell you that there is a clear-cut winner in this battle. They might say that paving is better because timber boards need loads of maintenance; conversely, they might argue that paving should be avoided because it's difficult to install. But, in truth, very few of these factors present a problem nowadays.

Composite wood decking and porcelain paving are both very durable, very easy to manage, and most importantly, very low-maintenance. Furthermore, neither product is decisively dearer; you’ll find a mix of cheap, low-quality products and more expensive high-end items in both markets. Whether you’re shopping for paving slabs or deck boards, you’ll get what you pay for.

Garden decking, assorted colours

This is good news. With those mitigating factors all but eliminated, you are free to forget about the specifications and concentrate on the design you want for your dream outdoor space. With no maintenance to worry about and very little difference in price or performance, decking and paving are both brilliant choices for the garden, and it’s entirely up to you which is better for your project.

Of course, you could always just do what Lee from Cardiff did and use them both!

One of the best things about the internet - and social media websites in particular - is the astounding ease with which budding designers can now find and share good ideas. Everybody's tweeting about their new-look living room, pinning pictures of their gorgeous new garden, and selling their upcycled furniture creations on Etsy. No matter what kind of project you're working on, inspiration is never more than a few clicks away.

We at PrimaPorcelain couldn't resist getting in on the sharing game. You'll find us on all the major social media platforms, but we have to say that we're especially besotted with Pinterest at the moment. We're particularly proud of our Garden Ideas board, packed as it is with inspiring little treats that we've collected from around the web. Here's a small sample of what we've come across...

Source: Completely Coastal

If you grow your own vegetables, you'll most likely want to use markers to remind yourself of which patch is which. These seaside-themed markers have been painted a beautiful, beachy blue colour and decorated with seashells and starfish shapes. Take a trip to your local rock pool and see what you can find!

Source: Hannah Tomlinson

There are loads of unusual flower containers to be found on our Garden Ideas board, but this image is a little different, using traditional pots but displaying them in an original way. An old wooden stepladder makes it easy to create eye-catching arrangements, and it looks attractively rustic in its own right! 

Source: The Berry 

Still, if you want the container itself to be quirky and cool, how about this image? It encapsulates an 'anything goes' approach to planting, using boxes, baskets, ornate drawers, and even a hollowed-out acoustic guitar as planters!

Matching outdoor space to indoor space creates a sleek, modern transition.
Source: Porcelain Paving

Okay, we'll admit to being a little self-centred here. This photo is taken from our very own website, but in our defence, this is a pretty great garden idea - matching your outdoor space to the look of your indoor space is sure to yield sensational results!

We're very keen on creating beautiful, unique gardens here at PrimaPorcelain - that's why we're so attached to our porcelain garden paving, and that's why you should follow us on Pinterest if you like original garden ideas.

There's nothing quite like outdoor cooking. The sense of anticipation as the barbecue heats up, the irresistible aroma of food on the grill...not to mention how much better a burger seems to taste when it’s been barbecued. Yes, with the overdue arrival of summertime comes our annual opportunity to enjoy a little outdoor dining, and everyone is champing at the bit for a chance to light those charcoals. This being the UK, you never know how long a window of good weather will last!

If you’re planning to wheel out the barbecue next weekend, here are a few things to bear in mind. Some are safety-related, some are just there to increase your enjoyment, but all of them will help to ensure that your summer barbecue goes off without a hitch!

Be safe before starting
There are several different types of barbecue, but all of them can be dangerous and so it’s important to make sure that everything is as it should be before you get started. If you’re using a gas cooker, check your connections and hoses for damage before you turn on the gas – you don’t want any leaks! Disposable foil barbecues are great for an impromptu barbecue party, but be sure to place them on a surface that won’t be damaged by the heat. Porcelain paving is more fireproof than grass or wooden decking, but there’s still a chance that the heated foil tray will scorch the surface, spoiling that beautiful design. Be sure to put the BBQ tray on a raised, fireproof surface before you light it!

Make sure you've got something for everyone
Will there be any vegetarians at your summer cook-out? Is everyone happy with burgers and sausages, or would some people rather have something else, like chicken? Everyone has different tastes, so get a good variety of food and make sure that nobody feels left out.

Stand by your grill
This should go without saying, but once the barbecue has been lit, don't leave it unsupervised. We know that it's tempting to go and do something else while the coals heat up, but if something gets out of control, you'll need to be there to handle it.

Don't forget the side dishes!
Burgers and hot dogs are all well and good, but a good summer barbecue has far more to offer than that. It's all about the salads, and not just the leafy kind: pasta salad, potato salad, and bean salad will all go down a storm. And get a few different condiments - not everyone will be happy with ketchup alone!

Share and share alike
You may have noticed that a lot of these tips require a bit of forward planning, but organisation is the key to any good social event. Try to get a headcount beforehand, and buy enough for everyone to have an equal share. Oh, and don't let your guests get greedy - if somebody's hogging all the chicken skewers, tell them to back off and give someone else a chance!

Safe until the end
Even when you've cooked all the burgers and wolfed down the sausages, the barbecue will still stay hot for quite some time. Make sure the cooker is out of harm's way while it cools down; that means no branches dangling nearby and, in the case of those disposable barbecues, no strong winds that might blow it across the garden.

No matter what you're serving at your summer barbecue, remember to keep it safe and let everyone eat their fair share. If you're worried that your garden won't make a good enough barbecue venue in its current state, remember that our porcelain tiles will turn any garden into an attractive summer hangout.