...or maybe there isn't!
Bradstone, have just released a new modular patio system they say 'fills an important gap in the market'.
Called Patio Deck, it's a modular steel frame bolted and glued together and laid onto pre-installed pads; eliminating the need for any kind of sub-base, cutting or mortar.
On the face of it the idea seems simple and it's certainly innovative. What better way for a DIY enthusiast, terrified at the prospect of cocking up base levels, gauging the wrong mortar mixes and laying wobbly flags, than to merely bolt together a rigid frame and lay it onto fixed points?
I can clearly see the advantages in a small applications: no mess, very little digging, easy construction (or so it's said) and quick.
However, I don't see the Patio Deck concept rolling out as a major landscape industry breakthrough. Why? Because it's ugly to look at. Furthermore it's too rigidly square.
I thought we'd left dull 1070s and 80s design behind long ago; the Panache paving looks so outdated. The rigid square looking construction just isn't easy on the eye.
Today's landscapers and garden designers are much more artistically flamboyant and I really don't see them specifying Patio Deck too often.
Softwood decking was once popular
Having said that I don't think Patio Deck would catch on, I may be wrong. All that's needed is for it to be shown on television and sales at B&Q will go through the roof.
It's exactly what happened with softwood decking. But now softwood decking is despised by landscapers and very rarely specified by designers. It was a passing fad. Sure people still install it but softwood decking is no longer the yearned after addition it once might have been.
Bradstone says there is no need for a sub-base and scanning their photos, the pads look like they are laid directly onto soil.
If I was to construct the Patio Deck system professionally I'd definitely excavate and pour concrete to place the pads onto. If you think that the pads are the only points holding the frame at the required levels, it only needs one or two pads to subside a little for the surface area to become unstable over time.
I'd also consider whacking down a 75mm scalping base. I'd then construct the frame and infill all of the square voids with 20mm gravel.
Why? because I'd constantly worry that with the weight of a table and chairs and constant use that the steel frame might move over time.
There's also the issue of sound. Anyone who's walked on a deck knows that the acoustics tend to accentuate the sound of anything being moved or when people walk across the deck surface.
I'd expect paving to ring a little when walked on so the 20mm gravel will not only deaden the sound but it will also flood under the steel frame and help to support the intermediate steel bars.
It's early days so keep an eye and ear out for contractor and client reviews and see how Patio Deck fares.
What do you think?
Website: Patio Deck