If there's one thing about living in the UK that you should be prepared for, it's definitely the bipolar weather and unusual amount of rain we get throughout the year. 

This is also something that you need to keep in mind if you ever plan on redesigning your garden and more specifically your patio, as you'll want to make sure the tiles you install are able to withstand anything thrown at them.

Over the years, more and more homeowners are opting for porcelain when it comes to their exterior floor designs but is porcelain a good choice for the UK weather? Are porcelain tiles too slippery for the rain? Well, if you're interested in finding out, AlfrescoPlus is here to help!   

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With winter now in the rearview mirror and spring right on our doorstep, it is the perfect time to start thinking about those much-needed home improvements that you've been avoiding over the last few months. 

One of the most common ways that homeowners spruce up their properties is to improve their outdoor living areas, in particular, adding a deck. Why? Well, a deck offers great versatility in its use and adds an extra dimension to your garden that is constant for years to come. 

But before you build a deck in your garden, there are a few things that you'll need to consider. Not sure what they are? AlfrescoPlus are here to help! 

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composite decking myths

Composite decking has steadily grown in popularity over the last decade, however, there are still some myths and rumours out there that discourage people from adding it to their gardens. In today's blog, we're going to debunk some of the most common myths and show you why composite decking is an excellent choice for your garden.

Composite decking looks like plastic

Absolutely not. This rumour might have been true around 10 years ago when composite decking hit the western market for the first time, but over the last decade manufacturers like DeckPlus and TimberTech have worked tirelessly to create boards with a charming real-wood appearance. 

easy-clean decking

 

Nowadays the quality of the composite decking available on the market is much higher, the colours are richer and more natural and the feel of the decking is grained like real wood.

One of the great benefits of composite decking is that it can be made in a much wider variety of colours than natural wood including grey and black. While these aren't 'natural' looking colours per se, they do still have the wood grain finish that makes modern composite decking a realistic alternative to wood.

Composite decking is expensive

Yes and no. Compared to cheap plastic decking and some softwood timber boards, composite decking is on the pricier side. But as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. 

Spending a bit more money on composite deck boards means you'll get low-maintenance, durable decking that won't crack, splinter or warp. The composite decking we offer comes with a 10-year warranty as a minimum. So, while you might spend more money upfront, you'll know you're getting boards that'll last for years to come.

Composite decking is not environmentally-friendly

While some people think that composite decking is bad for the environment because it contains a polymer, the opposite is true! Lots of composite decking, including the deck boards we supply, is made of recycled materials. DeckPlus and TimberTech pride themselves on creating composite decking with a combination of reclaimed wood that would've otherwise ended up in landfill & post-consumer/post-production plastics. 

Timber boards can only be made with whole planks of wood, meaning that thousands of trees are cut down each year. For that reason, composite decking can be considered a more eco-friendly alternative to real wood.

Learn More: Eco-Friendly Composite Decking

Composite Decking is hard to maintain

Lots of people hear horror stories about the level of maintenance real wood decks require and assume that the same must be true for composite decking. In reality, composite decking requires a fraction of the maintenance! 

Composite decking is manufactured to contain resin and (in some cases) a protective polymer sleeve. These plastic elements help to make the boards waterproof, and they prevent the boards from discolouring in the sun. For that reason, composite decking doesn't need sanding, staining or sealing every year! All composite decking needs is a quick wipe over with soapy water to remove surface dirt - what could be easier.

So there you have it, some common composite decking myths debunked! Take a look at the composite decking we have to offer by clicking the button down below. If you have any further questions, give us a call on 0800 028 8756.

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Adding a patio to your garden is a great way to add more usable space. Nowadays, there are so many different paving options on the market it can be difficult to know what to choose. Is ceramic better than brick? Will concrete last longer than limestone? There are so many questions you need to answer before you get to work on your new patio. 

If you're asking yourself the question - "should I use porcelain pavers for my patio" then this blog is perfect for you. We're going to take a look at the ways that porcelain paving is superior to other types of stone so that you can make an educated decision on whether porcelain paving is right for you!

Durable

One of the main reasons that porcelain paving is a great choice for your patio is because it's much more durable than other forms of natural stone. The porcelain paving we offer from PrimaPorcelain is vitrified at a very high temperature. This causes the elements inside the tiles to turn into a strong, glass-like substrate which offers numerous benefits. Firstly, the tiles waterproof without needing a glaze, secondly the tiles resistant to scuffs and chips regardless of heavy footfall and thirdly, the vitrification process extends the tiles' life expectancy. 

The durability of porcelain pavers means they're perfect for patios in busy family homes. Even if there are children and pets running around, spilling drinks and spreading dirt, your porcelain tiles will stand up to the challenges boldly and will come out the other side unscathed.

Low-Maintenance

Nowadays, homeowners don't have very much free time on their hands. Between the 9-5 job, the school run and the precious moments of 'me time' there isn't much time left over for garden maintenance. With limited free time, you might be looking for garden features that require as little upkeep as possible.

If you want to create a stress-free, low-maintenance garden then porcelain pavers are ideal. All they need is a quick wipe over to remove surface dirt. Their impermeable surface means they won't become stained even if you spill red wine during your next garden party!

Beautifully Designed

Whether you're creating a simple and contemporary garden or something more traditional and rustic, there's a range of porcelain paving that'll suit your needs. If you're looking for something that looks like natural stone, we can cater for that! We offer porcelain paving in the style of sandstone, slate and limestone, meaning you can achieve a natural appearance while still benefitting from porcelain paving's many advantages. 

For something a little more unique, we also offer porcelain paving with a real-wood effect. This means you can create a patio that's durable, easy to maintain and incredibly stylish too. Just take a look at the beautiful rooftop veranda (above) created using PrimaPorcelain's Forest Oak paving! The wood grain works perfectly in this setting but won't require the same level of maintenance as a typical wooden deck.

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Hopefully you can see why porcelain paving is a great choice for any patio. With excellent durability, minimal maintenance and some gorgeous designs you can create a porcelain paver patio that suits your home perfectly.

Now that Halloween is over, that time of year is fast approaching. No, not the C-word, but bonfire night! One of the few nights of the year where fireworks brighten up the night sky with beautiful shapes and colours and where family and friends gather to create huge, blazing bonfires, but are they legal and are you allowed to have a bonfire in your garden? 

With a lot of rules and guidelines in place at the moment due to COVID-19, it can be quite difficult to follow exactly what you can and can't do in regards to having a bonfire in your garden. So, to make things a little clearer, we have outlined what you can do in this blog post. Read on to find out more!

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gardening mental health

We're living through a pandemic that's creating a lot of new pressures - particularly when it comes to mental health. People aren't used to being so isolated, and it's causing a huge spike in feelings of depression and anxiety. Alongside the pandemic, we're seeing shorter days, bad weather and cold temperatures creeping in, all of which can negatively affect people's mental health. So what can you do if you're feeling low?

If you're feeling particularly down while you're stuck in isolation, there are things you can do. These small changes can help to improve your mood and mental health.

  • Have a good routine in place
  • Take time for self-care
  • Set yourself small, achievable goals

As a company that specialises in home and garden renovations, we know the impact that an attractive, clean and functional space can have on mental health. One of the most attractive parts of our job is knowing that people are making a positive difference in their living space when they purchase our products. Today, we want to take a closer look at the effects of gardening on mental health to show you why it's important that you get outside in nature whenever you (safely) can.

The science behind seeing green

A particular study from Growing Health, a national scheme set up by the charity Garden Organic and the membership organisation Sustain, found that spending time in any natural green space, such as your garden, can help you to relax and reduce stress levels. 

We're sure you already know that regular exercise can help you maintain better mental health. Getting out in the garden to mow the lawn, pull up weeds or play with the dog can provide you with a burst of endorphins that will instantly improve your mood. 

succulents

Bringing the garden inside

If you're isolating at home or if you're experiencing a terrible bout of wet/cold weather, then you might want to consider bringing some plants and flowers inside. Creating a green space in a conservatory (or any room in the house) can instantly lift your mood and make you feel a little more in touch with nature. 

Succulents are a great choice if you want a low maintenance green space that won't take up a ton of your time! These are available in most garden centres and supermarkets and they make great gifts for people who are feeling a little down at the moment.

Low maintenance home and garden

A great way to improve your mental health is to limit the number of stressful tasks you have to do around your home. We all know that getting motivated to clean the house can be difficult at the best of times, but doing it when you're having a particularly bad day mental health-wise can be almost impossible. 

Here at AlfrescoPlus, we offer a selection of home improvement products such as composite decking and porcelain paving, which are designed to require a very small amount of maintenance. We pride ourselves on helping people create low-maintenance, stress-free homes so that they have more time for enjoyable activities. 

READ MORE: Create a Low-Maintenance Garden with AlfrescoPlus

World Mental Health Day

World mental health day is just around the corner (10th October 2020) and we feel like this year it's going to be more prominent than ever. We really wanted to offer some help and advice for people struggling with mental health at this time of year, and we hope that this blog has inspired you to reduce your stress and get outside! 

If you have any questions about our products, don't hesitate to get in touch -  0800 028 8756. We can advise you on the best low-maintenance products for your home.

Here at AlfrescoPlus, we offer a range of capped composite decking boards that require almost no maintenance and are very easy to clean.

Easy clean decking

Pictured: EasyClean Reserve Dark Roast Composite Decking

These high-quality deck boards are 'capped' with a protective polymer sleeve that keeps out moisture. This ensures that your deck will not be damaged by the rain, plus it means that any spills can be wiped clean with ease.

Easy clean grey decking

Pictured: EasyClean Edge+ Sea Salt Grey Composite Decking

Our easy clean decking range includes a variety of different colours and styles. Do you want a contemporary grey deck? Try EasyClean Edge+ Sea Salt Grey. Or perhaps your tastes are a little more traditional - in which case you'll love our EasyClean Edge+ Oak decking boards.

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All of our decking products are low maintenance and slip resistant, with outstanding lifespans. AlfrescoPlus composite decking is also environmentally friendly - learn more here.

Porcelain tiles are a fantastic flooring option for homeowners due to their incredible resilience and hard-wearing properties. Manufactured with different materials to regular ceramic tiles such as sand and feldspar, porcelain products are a far denser, stronger material that absorbs less moisture. This offers a stylish flooring product that not only resists stains, fades and scratches but is also far easier to maintain, meaning more time can be spent enjoying and showing off your floor rather than cleaning it.

However, despite less effort required to maintain porcelain paving, there are still a few important things you need to remember to ensure your porcelain paving is cleaned in the correct way. Here we take a look at five things you should know to clean your porcelain paving. 

How to Clean Porcelain Paving

 Pictured: Cotswold Ivory Paving

 

Sweep/Vacuum Dust & Dirt Away 

When first attempting to clean your porcelain paving, you should aim to remove any dust or dirt that may have gathered. You can do this easily by using a vacuum cleaner or by simply sweeping it up. A dry mop is a perfect thing to use to sweep up rather than a broom as this will provide a far better day-to-day protection for the surface of the tile.

 

Stay Clear of Chemical Cleaners Containing Ammonia, Bleach or Acids 

For regular cleaning of your porcelain paving, it is important to avoid using chemical cleaners that contain the above ingredients. During the manufacturing process, porcelain paving is heated up to fuse its unique materials together, resulting in water-resistant properties that are similar to glass. As a result of the regular use of corrosive chemicals, the surface of porcelain paving can become eroded, leading to increases in water absorption. Corrosive chemicals can also result in the grout laid between each tile eroding, which will loosen the tiles and allow water to get beneath your tiles which creates dampness. For daily cleaning of your porcelain tiles, you can simply use warm water and a mop! If your floor requires a slightly deeper clean, however, you can use a mild detergent mixed with warm water. This will help to remove any stubborn stains that your floor may have.

 

Wash Away Detergents 

When deciding to use a detergent, it's important to make sure that it is of a low concentration. Textured porcelain tiles may need a slightly greater concentration than other tiles to ensure an adequate clean. To clean your porcelain paving with detergent, cover an area of your floor with the cleaning solution and let it stand for approximately five minutes. Then, with a mop, gently clean the area that you have covered. It's important to remember not to let the solution dry on top of your paving. The next thing to do is to mop the area again with clean, warm water. This will help to remove any detergent residue that remains and prevent water spots or powdery marks from appearing.

 

Removing Stains 

When it comes to stain removal, we tend to use the same method regardless of how they occur, which is not the correct way to do things. Each stain should be treated individually in the most effective way possible in order to minimise any potential long-term damage to the paving or surrounding grout. When attempting to remove stains, only deal with the affected area rather than cleaning the entire floor. 

 

Use Gentle Chemical Use to Remove Stubborn Stains 

The above guidelines offer you the best way to protect your porcelain floor by keeping it looking its best while minimising the risk of damage to individual tiles and grout. Unfortunately, from time to time accidents do tend to happen where major stains may need to be treated with a more rigorous approach that requires the use of chemicals, which may lead to a change in the colour of surrounding grout. Firstly, be sure to follow the above steps to find the best method to clean the particular stain. Next, ensure you are wearing suitable PPE including a mask, gloves and eye protection whenever possible as well as ventilating the area by opening windows and doors that lead outside. Again, it's important to remember to only clean the affected area and not the entire floor.

By following these guidelines on how to clean porcelain paving, you will ensure that your porcelain floor remains sparkling clean and is always looking good. To prevent having to clean more often, be sure to place a doormat near the entrance of your room to catch the majority of the dirt being carried in.

 

For more information on how to clean your porcelain paving, be sure to get in touch with a member of the AlfrescoPlus team today. Our porcelain experts will be more than happy to help with any enquiry you may have! If you are interested in purchasing porcelain paving for your home or property, click below to browse our full range. We have styles and designs to suit all needs and budgets.

Our Porcelain Paving >

Would you like to create a unique or stylish design using our porcelain paving? We'll talk you through a few stunning designs that will look great in any indoor or outdoor space. 

Checkerboard 

Using square porcelain tiles you can create a traditional checkerboard design that will look really intriguing in any indoor or outdoor space. Start by choosing two shades of square paving that take your fancy. Colours and textures that complement each other offer a subtle checkerboard finish, while highly contrasting shades offer a bolder look. 

To create the look, lay one paver of colour A next to one paver of colour B in the pattern A, B, A, B. For the second row, start with colour B in the pattern B, A, B, A - and repeat! The checkerboard pattern will appear after only a few alternating rows are laid. Keep doing the same process of alternating colours and rows until you have covered your entire patio area.

Herringbone

To create a herringbone pattern you need to use tiles that fit a 2:1 ratio eg, the tiles are twice as long as they are wide. Here at AlfrescoPlus, we offer three different sizes of tile that satisfy this ratio:

The herringbone design is eyecatching and can really elevate a space without making it look too busy! You've probably seen herringbone paths and patios a million times over - they are a really popular paving pattern option. Herringbone paving can be laid at a 45° or a 90° angle, with 90° offering a more striking finished patio. Unlike checkerboard paving, herringbone patterns can be quite tricky to create, but the end results are so so worth it!

Random Stretcher Bond

If you want your paving to ooze quirkiness this is a great paving pattern design option. Using paving in an assortment of different sizes, you can really make this pattern your own. Choose varying colours and textures for the ultimate eclectic look, or choose tiles of the same shade to really tone this paving pattern down.

You could choose any size of porcelain paving from our range to create this wonderfully random pattern, just make sure that all the tiles in a single row are a similar width, otherwise, you might find awkward gaps or holes in the finished design. 

These are just a few paving pattern ideas, but the options are almost endless. You can create designs within the patio like a striking patio border or a more sophisticated design like a diamond, star or cross! Whatever pattern you choose, it will look great and last for years when you choose porcelain paving. Shop Now!

Composite decking

Composite decking boards are made using a combination (or 'composite') of real wood and synthetic materials. This manufacturing process results in a highly durable outdoor flooring material that looks just as good as wood, yet requires virtually zero maintenance.

Demand for this product has exploded in the UK recently, with more and more British homeowners deciding that composite decking - also known as WPC decking - is the right choice for them. If you're looking to add a composite deck to your outdoor space, you'll quickly discover that there's an awful lot of choice out there.

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To help you make your decision, here are 4 of the best composite decking products currently available from the AlfrescoPlus website:

Silver Maple composite decking

TimberTech EasyClean Terrain+ Silver Maple

TimberTech is one of the world's best-known manufacturers of composite decking, and these stunning Silver Maple boards are among their best-selling products. The deck boards are put through the manufacturing process twice, which is what gives them that gorgeous two-tone colour

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Charcoal composite decking

DeckPlus WeatherDek Charcoal Decking

With its gorgeous weathered design and dark, stormy colour, this rather arresting product from DeckPlus is sure to make a bold statement in any outdoor living space.

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TimberTech EasyClean Edge Dark Teak

If you want to give your deck a slightly more traditional look, these 'Dark Teak' boards from TimberTech's EasyClean Edge range offer fantastic value for money. The boards are capped with a protective polymer sleeve, so they're highly moisture-resistant.

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EvoDek Grey Decking

If you're on a tight budget, these modern grey deck boards may be the perfect product for you. The hollow boards come with a 5-year warranty as standard, and their brushed texture gives them a great look and feel.

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If none of these products appeal to you, don't worry - there are lots of other composite decking options available here at AlfrescoPlus!

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