A few evenings ago, at dinner, I find myself dazing out of the conversation and just looking around at the restaurant I was in. The floor inside was a simple concrete finish but outside the terrace was wood decking. I suddenly realised why I was fixated at that terrace. Recently the projects I have been working on have a lot of debate about alternative materials for terraces decking.



With technology these days, there are many different materials that can be used outdoors and made to look as natural wood.

One of the projects that we’ve been working on lately is a set of villas that are on large land plots and therefore we provide them with large outdoor living spaces and terraces on the sides of the house. Because of the local climate, we had to research different materials that would provide a good fit for our villas. Hardwood is a good material, although because of the transitions in the climate, natural wood tends to have certain elasticity that makes it expand and contract which could damage the deck itself. It also requires a lot of maintenance and it is becoming very pricey!

And so, we looked into other options of alternate and some sustainable materials such as wood-looking ceramic tiles or engineered woods.

Ceramic tiles with wood patterns do not expand and contract with heat as does the natural material, and nor does they retain water. They fit outdoor use and have good non slip rating and a very durable product.



Now for the innovative technology of engineered wood floors. There are many types which include, wood cement blends and plastic wood blends. These engineered wood floors are stronger than natural wood because of the addition of the different substances to them. Nonetheless, they still have some weak points. Under  different climatic conditions such as sunlight, heat and rain, the floors expand and contract and become a hard to keep even.

Wood cement mixes have been used for a little while longer and have less of elasticity. However  wood cement boards have the down side of being quite heavy.



The upside to most of these wood and wood-like products is that they still come in standard sizes and so depending on the look you want, you can achieve it using any of the materials stated above.

For our own project, we opted for using ceramic tile outside on the terraces. They are  easy to install are maintenance free. We wanted to have a product that would be readily available and could come in a batch with a standard colour; unlike natural wood, where you can’t guarantee the grains and colours of every plank. Regardless, the colour variety comes in birch, oak, walnut, rose wood, and more colours to imitate wood characteristics. Wood tiles are completely flame retardant with a low-water absorbtion rate and is moisture proof. Perfect for outdoor use in any climate!

Ceramic tiles may not be real wood, but for this project they are fit for the purpose!

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