Timber decks and concrete balconies both provide homeowners with a versatile outdoor living space in which they can entertain, or simply enjoy the weather. Unfortunately, these spaces can also be quite dangerous if not properly maintained. While timber decking is often associated with collapses and injuries, the truth is balconies or decks of either material can be hazardous under the wrong conditions. This makes it even more important for homeowners considering renovations, potential buyers scouting new properties and those planning a construction project to make a concerted effort to learn the differences between the two.
Timber Decks: Pros and Cons
Unlike composite decking materials, timber decks are comprised of natural lumber. In many cases, natural timbers are treated to prevent some weakening or water damage. Homeowners who are considering the addition of timber decks to their property or those who are beginning the process of seeking out a new home with such outdoor spaces should always take a moment to learn more about these structures, and how they can affect the safety of a property.
- Pros: Timber decks can be stained, painted and treated in a variety of methods to perfectly match an overall colour scheme. When ethically sourced timbers are chosen, they can also have a relatively low carbon footprint. Wooden decking is generally much more lightweight than concrete, and summer sunlight doesn’t leave timber surfaces at the high temperatures often associated with similarly situated concrete structures.
- Cons: Maintenance requirements for timber decks are a bit higher and more pressing than those put forth by concrete. Timbers must be treated and sealed regularly to prevent water damage, and can begin to produce splinters if they’re not well maintained. Timber decks, especially those which are elevated, can be more likely to collapse in the absence of proper maintenance. Termites and timber pests are a quite common issue faced by the owners of timber decks, which can also weaken the overall integrity of the structure.
Concrete Balconies: Pros and Cons
Often reinforced with metal for added stability, concrete balconies are also a popular choice with many homeowners. While the maintenance requirements for concrete structures will differ from those of timber decks, it’s still important to make sure balconies are carefully maintained over their lifetime.
- Pros: Concrete balconies do not require the same level of commitment in terms of treatment and protection as timber decks, though they do need to be sealed. Depending upon placement and building conditions, concrete balconies also tend to be significantly cheaper to build and maintain than their timber counterparts. Concrete floor surfaces can be covered with timber tiling, pavers or tiles as part of future renovations to change the look of a balcony, whereas timber decks prevent more of a challenge.
- Cons: While it is more durable in many cases, concrete is also much heavier than timber. This will create the need for more extensive bracings, which can begin to bend or corrode over time. Rust or corrosion which affects bracing elements, balustrades and railings can present an issue, especially in coastal areas. Concrete balconies are often hotter to the touch than timber deck surfaces during the summer months.
Though there are some risks associated with improperly maintained decks and balconies, they shouldn’t necessarily be considered an inherent safety hazard. Through proper upkeep and regular evaluation by a professional building inspector, you can create an outdoor living space which is both beautiful and reliable without risking the safety of your family, visitors or property.
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