The following article will provide the most comprehensive list of alternatives to decking that are both cheap and easy to implement. Some of the options listed may require a little more work than others, but all of them are relatively inexpensive and will provide you with a great end result.

There are several alternatives to decking from, gravel, rubber mats, and poured concrete to bark chippings. It all depends on whether you are on a budget and need cheap, low-cost alternatives or whether you have a bit more money to spend and want a quick and easy fix.

Here are 25 cheap, quick, and easy alternatives to decking:

What Are the Disadvantages of Wood Decking?

First, let’s look at what the disadvantages of wood decking are:

  • Wooden decks require regular maintenance, such as staining, painting, or sealing every two to three years
  • They can be slippery when wet
  • If not properly sealed or maintained, they can become a haven for insects and pests
  • Decks made from treated wood may contain chemicals that can leach into the soil and water
  • They can be expensive to install

Now that we have looked at the disadvantages of wood decking, let’s take a look at some alternatives:

Related: How To Clean A Wooden Deck Without A Pressure Washer

Cheap Low-Cost Decking Alternatives and Ideas

Bark chippings

Since bark chippings are relatively inexpensive to purchase and lay, it makes an excellent budget-friendly option for decking. It is also a very quick and easy way to get a new surface.

Note: This type of material is not recommended if you want to entertain in this area since it isn’t really suitable for seating.

Brick

You can get hold of bricks at most DIY stores and they are relatively inexpensive to purchase. Laying a brick patio is a relatively easy process and can be done on a weekend if you know what you’re doing.

Gravel

One of the cheapest and fastest ways to create a new surface is to lay gravel. This can be done in an afternoon and is a very easy way to get a new decking area. Not only is it easy to get hold of, preparing the area is also very simple.

Gravel and a landscape foundation sheet

Note: We recommend you first lay a membrane down before adding the gravel since this will help to prevent weeds from growing through.

Self-binding gravel

Gravel dust, sand, and clay are combined in this type of binding gravel to form a firm bond when compacted. It not only looks good, but it’s also simple to maintain: just some weeding is required now and then.

It can be purchased from most builders’ merchants and is relatively inexpensive. It’s also easy to lay, so it makes an ideal budget-friendly option for decking.

Pallet decking

Did you know that each pallet can provide enough material for at least one square meter of decking? And, since pallets are relatively easy to come by (you can often get them for free from businesses that receive them), they make an excellent low-cost option for decking.

Pallet decking is also very quick and easy to install, so it’s a great option if you’re on a tight budget and need to get the job done quickly.

Poured concrete

Most people find poured concrete as the most practical value-for-money decking alternative. It has a lifespan of many years with little maintenance.

Poured Concrete
Poured concrete

Although it is one of the more expensive options, it is quick and easy to install, making it a great value for money choice.

Related: How To Clean Your Concrete Patio (Without A Pressure Washer)

Railway sleepers

There really are no limits to what you can do with railway sleepers. They can be used to create raised beds, steps, seating, and of course, decking.

They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and are very easy to work with, so they make an excellent low-cost alternative to decking.

Note: If you do use railway sleepers, we recommend that you treat them with a preservative before using them. This will cut down on maintenance and will make them last longer.

Vinyl decking

In comparison to most flooring types, vinyl is still one of the cheaper options. Although it doesn’t have the natural look of wood, vinyl does come in a range of colors and styles, so you can find one that will suit your needs and preferences.

These come in handy DIY kit form and can be laid relatively easily. They are also very easy to clean and maintain, making them a great low-cost alternative to decking.

DIY decking kits

If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to get your decking done, then consider using a DIY decking kit. These kits come with everything you need to get started, including pre-cut wood, screws, and nails.

Just follow the included instructions and you’ll have your deck up in no time at all!

The great thing is, that these kits can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional, so they’re an excellent budget-friendly option for decking.

Contemporary Alternatives

The alternatives to decking listed below are all contemporary in style and would complement any modern home.

Aluminum decking

Aluminum decking is taking the market by storm at the moment. It is a very lightweight material so it’s easy to work with, and it doesn’t rust. It is also non-toxic and eco-friendly.

The only downside to aluminum decking is that it is one of the more expensive options. However, it looks pretty good once it is installed.

Bamboo decking

Did you know that bamboo is actually a lot stronger and more durable than wood? It also has a lovely, natural look that will enhance any garden.

Bamboo decking is one of the more expensive options, but it is well worth the investment. It is easy to install and doesn’t require much maintenance.

Silca system decking (plastic tray system)

Silca System decking is a plastic tray system that is designed to be used on balconies and roof terraces. It is quick and easy to install, and it doesn’t require any specialist tools or equipment.

You can lay a number of different materials over the top of the plastic trays, such as gravel, decking boards, or AstroTurf. This makes it a very versatile and adaptable option.

Again, it looks pretty sweet once laid.

Rice hull decking

Rice Hull decking is a lovely, long-lasting material that is free of splinters. Rice Hull is one of the newest decking materials available, and it’s quickly becoming quite popular among people who don’t want to maintain a typical wood deck yet still desire something that looks good year-round.

Since Rice Hull is so resistant to stains, you can use it for grilling all summer without worrying about your deck getting damaged from spilled plates of food or beverages.

Timber decking (pressure-treated boards)

Now we all know that wooden decking looks great, but have you ever considered timber decking? Timber decking is a great alternative to traditional wooden decking because it is stronger and more durable.

Timber decking with a seat and steps

It is also pressure-treated, so it is resistant to rot and insect infestation, whereas wooden decking has a tendency to split, fade, crack, and warp over time.

Composite decking (mix of recycled plastics and real wood fibers)

Composite decking boards are great decking alternatives to wood, they are made from recycled plastics and real wood fibers. These boards are very tough and durable, making them ideal for high-traffic areas.

There are resistant to mold, mildew, cracking, splitting, and warping. They come in a variety of colors and finishes, so you are sure to find one that will complement your home.

Although composite decking boards are more expensive than traditional wooden decking, they do tend to last longer.

Rubber paving/mats

Rubber mats are both contemporary and really durable. You can lay them over any existing flooring or surface, and they are easy to install.

Rubber mats are great for high-traffic areas because they are slip-resistant and easy to clean. They are also very versatile and can be used indoors or outdoors.

One of the only downsides to rubber mats is that they can be a bit expensive. But, they will definitely last you a long time so they are definitely worth the investment.

Marine flooring composite decking synthetic sheet

Marine Flooring Composite Decking Synthetic Sheet is of high-quality EVA (Ethylene-vinyl Acetate) materials, it is environmentally friendly, anti-UV, anti-slip, and easy to clean. It is a great option for both indoor and outdoor use.

The composite decking is made of a mix of recycled plastics and wood fibers, so it is environmentally friendly. It also doesn’t require any specialist tools or equipment to install, making it a very user-friendly option.

Oftentimes it is used for boat building projects, but it can also be used for other projects, such as decking a patio or installing flooring in a children’s play area.

Ultrashield naturale outdoor decking tile

Not only are Ultrashield naturale outdoor decking tiles eco-friendly and made of recycled materials, but they are also very easy to install. They also don’t bend, warp, or split, making them a great option for high-traffic areas.

The decking tiles are available in a variety of colors and finishes, so you are sure to find one that will match your home. Plus, they are affordable and easy to maintain, so you won’t have to worry about spending a lot of time or money on upkeep.

Plastic or PVC decking

The fact that you have a plastic component in the mix will help to keep the materials from warping, swelling, or shrinking.

A lot of people are hesitant to use plastic decking because they think it will look cheap or tacky. However, there are a variety of colors and finishes available, so you can find one that will complement your home.

man installing a composite deck
PVC Decking

Plus, plastic decking is very durable and easy to maintain. You just need to hose it down every once in a while to keep it looking good as new.

So, if you’re looking for an affordable and easy-to-maintain decking material, plastic or PVC decking may be the perfect option for you.

Natural Materials

There are a lot of people that want something a little different than the traditional wood or composite decking.

For those people, natural materials are a great option. There are a variety of natural materials that can be used for decking, such as stone, brick, and slate.

The downside to using natural materials is that they can be quite expensive. But, if you’re willing to spend the extra money, they will definitely add a unique look to your home.

Stone decking

Limestone and porcelain are two of the most popular types of stone decking.

Limestone is a type of sedimentary rock that is made up of calcite and dolomite. It is a popular choice for outdoor decking because it is very durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions.

Porcelain, on the other hand, is a type of ceramic that is made from natural ingredients. It is also very durable and can withstand extreme temperatures.

Both limestone and porcelain are available in a variety of colors and finishes, so you are sure to find one that will match your home. Plus, they are both affordable and easy to maintain.

Slate tiles

Similar to limestone and porcelain, slate is a type of metamorphic rock that is made up of shale, quartz, and mica. It is a popular choice for decking because it is very durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions.

They don’t come more naturally than slate, which is quarried from the earth and has been used for roofing and flooring for centuries.

Related: Do Slate Patio Slabs Scratch? (A Quick No-nonsense Guide)

Interlocking Tiles

Now, not necessarily the cheapest option on this list, but interlocking tiles are the fastest to install. You can have your decking done in no time at all!

There are a variety of interlocking tiles on the market, made from different materials, such as wood, composite, or PVC.

So, if you’re looking for a fast and easy way to get your decking done, then interlocking tiles are definitely the way to go.

Interlocking garage flooring tiles

Interlocking garage flooring tiles are a great alternative to decking. They are easy to install and come in a variety of colors and finishes.

Plus, they are very durable and can withstand heavy traffic.

Duragrid 12×12 plastic interlocking decking tiles

These Duragrid 12×12 plastic interlocking decking tiles are great because they are self-draining and easy to clean.

Plus, they are slip-resistant, making them a great choice for high-traffic areas.

Designed to withstand extensive UV exposure and extreme temperatures, these tiles are a great option for any decking project.

They are also very affordable and come in a variety of colors.

Slate flex multi-purpose interlocking textured PVC floor tiles

Similar to Slate Flex tiles, but in a larger form factor.

These slate-textured PVC floor tiles are perfect for any indoor or outdoor surface, including decks, patios, and rooftops.

They are water-resistant, easy to clean and come in a variety of colors.

Interlocking grass deck tiles

Traditionally, these types of tiles have been used for edging-type projects, however, more and more people are using them as spacers and inlays for their grass decking projects.

Made from durable plastic, these interlocking grass deck tiles are a great way to add some life to your deck.

Plus, they are easy to install and require no maintenance.

Just snap them together and you’re ready to go!

FAQs

What is the cheapest wood for decking?

a man sawing wood on deck

The cheapest wood for decking is pressure-treated wood. This type of wood is infused with chemicals that make it resistant to rot and insect damage. It uses the most economical material available and is easy to install.

What are the different types of decking?

composite decking with drill

There are a variety of different types of decking available on the market, including wood, composite, PVC, and metal. Each type has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose one that will best meet your needs.
Wood decking is the most popular type because it is affordable and easy to maintain. Composite decking is durable and requires no maintenance. PVC decking is waterproof and fade-resistant. Metal decking is the most durable and weather-resistant.

Can I put a pergola on a raised deck?

Yes, you can put a pergola on a raised deck. However, you will need to make sure that the deck is strong enough to support the weight of the pergola.

Can I make a deck out of pallets?

Yes, you can make a deck out of pallets. In fact, it is a great affordable option for those who want to build their own deck. Just make sure that the pallets are in good condition and that you pre-drill all of the holes before assembling them.

What is the best material for a raised garden bed?

several raised beds

The best material for a raised garden bed is pressure-treated wood. This type of wood is infused with chemicals that make it resistant to rot and insect damage. It is also easy to install and can be found at most home improvement stores.

What is the best way to clean my deck?

Clean Your Composite Deck

The best way to clean your deck is to use a power washer. Power washers can remove dirt, grime, and mildew quickly and easily. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Is Paving cheaper than decking?

Patio Paver with rubber mallet

Decking is much more affordable than paving. It is also quicker to install and requires less maintenance. Paving is a more expensive option and can be difficult to install. It is also susceptible to cracking and fading over time.

Related: What Is The Best Paving For Patios?

What is the best way to protect my deck from the sun?

a woman treating a wooden deck

The best way to protect your deck from the sun is to use a UV-resistant sealant. This type of sealant will help to keep your deck looking new by protecting it from the harmful rays of the sun.

How can I make my small deck look bigger?

composite deck with metal table chairs

There are a few ways that you can make your small deck look bigger. First, try using light-colored wood or composite materials. These materials will reflect light and make your deck appear larger than it actually is. Another option is to use furniture with a low profile. This will also help to make your deck look bigger.

Summary

If you’re looking for a quick, cheap alternative to decking, then this list of alternatives is for you. From interlocking grass deck tiles to pressure-treated wood, there are a variety of options available that will fit your budget and needs.

So now, you won’t have to ask “what should I use instead of decking boards?” Now you know 🙂

So, what are you waiting for?

Get started on your decking project today!

Some other useful articles:

Does Bleach Remove Black Spots On My Patio? 

How To Get Rid Of Black Spots On Patio Slabs (Fast!)

Patio Laying Guide (In Just a Weekend)

The Patio Guide: (Everything You Needed to Know)

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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