Cheap decking ideas: 10 affordable looks for a dazzling decked space

These cheap decking ideas demonstrate how to create a beautiful outdoor living zone with a small budget

John Lewis ANYDAY outdoor collection on decking
(Image credit: John Lewis)

Want to upgrade your plot without blowing your budget? Cheap decking ideas are just what you need. And you'll be pleased to hear that there are plenty of options.

While decking is ever-popular in garden design, it's not the cheapest of features. Timber designs are more budget-friendly than composite, although the latter does last longer, so many see it as more of an investment. But either way, once you've got the deck itself installed, you'll need to factor in the costs of dressing it up and transforming it from a practical base to a chic outdoor living zone. And that's where we can help.

From budget-friendly ways to get creative with color to affordable upcycling projects, we've brought together our favorite decking ideas that will help you make a saving.

Transform your plot with these 10 chic and cheap decking ideas

Add these looks to your list of cheap garden ideas and you'll soon have the backyard of your dreams.

1. Personalize your deck with inexpensive exterior paint

pink painted deck

Give your decking a fresh look

(Image credit: Caroline Mardon/Future)

One of the easiest ways to make a big impact with your deck is to give it a fresh new hue. 

Whether you go for a bold paint or a more subtle stain, there are all kinds of stylish decking color ideas to choose from. This pretty pink shade adds an uplifting, summery feel to this space, but we're also big fans of charcoal black for a moody tone, or pale gray for something a little more understated.

Lee Cavalier, Decking Product Manager at Dura Composites, is an advocate for gray decking, too. 'Gray still reigns supreme as the base color of choice and allows a space to take on a unique feel depending on what it's paired with,' he says. 'This could be flashes of color in your outdoor furniture, or it could be more natural elements.' 

He goes on to explain how the neutrality of a gray backdrop for decking allows the seasonal colors of surrounding flowers, trees, and shrubs to shine.

'Another reason people love gray tones is that they work equally well in both day and nighttime environments,' Lee says. 'You can style your decking for both vibes – from light and airy summer lunches to dark and magical nighttime drinks.'

Whatever color you go for, our guide on how to paint decking will come in handy for this simple yet transformative project.

2. Or, create a statement backdrop to surround your decking

ANYDAY furniture from John Lewis on deck with painted wall

We love this setup featuring John Lewis' ANYDAY collection

(Image credit: John Lewis)

It's not just the decking itself that you can transform with a lick of exterior paint. Another simple way to elevate your space is by painting the fence or garden wall behind it to create a statement backdrop.

You could go for one bold, bright color all over, or create a half-painted design like the one shown above. That terracotta tone is ideal for a Mediterranean-inspired garden and looks particularly gorgeous paired with the cobalt-blue parasol.

3. Define the zone with a budget-friendly border

trellis around decking

Trellised panels are a stylish deck surrounding

(Image credit: Ros Crosland/Alamy Stock Photo)

Decking railing is always worth considering when installing one of these stylish features. For safety reasons, this is particularly important if your deck is raised, but a chic border can also add style points to the scheme. Plus, it will help to define the space as more of a distinct zone.

There are lots of designs that, although look fantastic, are not so budget-friendly. But timber trellis panels are generally a more affordable option. They will allow air and light through to the space, can be painted to match your color scheme, and can also be used to train up pretty climbing plants if you want a bit more greenery around your seating area.

4. Go for affordable deck lighting

decking with outdoor rug and festoon lights

A cozy outdoor living space

(Image credit: David Giles/Future)

Deck lighting is important for taking your space effortlessly from day to night and creating a welcoming ambiance. But, it can be expensive, especially once you factor in the labor costs of a professional installer.

But there are some great options that can illuminate your decking without costing the earth. Solar-powered festoon lights are a perfect example and can be strung up on surrounding walls or fences or swagged overhead for a chilled-out vibe. Solar lanterns are another budget-friendly option that will emit a twinkling glow, or try LED outdoor-suitable candles to boost the sense of romance once the sun sets.

5. Layer up the textiles for a cheap and easy update

John Lewis ANYDAY outdoor collection on decking

We love the vivid yellow tones of this set from John Lewis's ANYDAY collection

(Image credit: John Lewis)

One of the best budget decking ideas for updating a space quickly and adding extra personality is to layer up outdoor-friendly textiles. And there are lots of affordable options to choose from.

Here, a patterned outdoor rug and colorful cushions add bags of style, while offsetting the vibrant furniture beautifully. Plus, they'll up the comfy factor of the space, too. But if you prefer a more Scandi-chic look, go for neutral accessories in a subtle mix of textures.

6. Shelter your deck with a shade sail

shade sail from B&Q over garden deck

Keep cool with this shade sail from B&Q

(Image credit: B&Q)

For ultimate outdoor living, you'll probably want to invest in a deck cover. Not only will it protect you and your guests from the glaring midday sun, but will also enable you to use the zone during light spells of rain. And of course, it will help protect your furniture, too.

While larger structures, such as pergolas, can be pricey, it's totally possible to shelter your space for less. Parasols and shade sails are top of our list for budget-friendly buys, and always look stylish.

7. Stick to a small but stylish deck

small garden deck by Trex

A perfectly petite setup featuring Trex decking

(Image credit: Trex)

If you're building a brand new deck and want to keep costs down, stick to a smaller design. 

As long as it can fit your garden seating and a small table, there's no need to splash out on anything larger. And there are tons of fabulous small deck ideas you can try to give it a stylish look.

Providing your garden gets enough sunlight, a lawn is a great option for the rest of your plot – sowing one from seed is super affordable.

8. Personalize your decking with upcycled planters

upcycled drawers as planters

Give old objects a new lease of life

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

Adding container gardening ideas to your decking will instantly give it a boost. But if you don't want to spend on expensive planters, try upcycling secondhand objects, or bits and bobs found at the back of the shed, instead.

Metal buckets or troughs filled with flowers are a go-to for a dose of rustic appeal, but with a bit of creativity, the possibilities are endless. These old drawers, for instance, look gorgeous with their colorful makeover and make the perfect home for vibrant dahlias.

9. Let colorful furniture do the talking

colorful bistro set on trex decking

Turn heads with a colorful bistro set, like in this garden featuring decking from Trex

(Image credit: Trex)

Speaking of color, how's this for a show-stopping setup? You don't necessarily have to splurge on deck furniture ideas to make a statement. Bistro sets like these are one of the most affordable seating options out there and often come in bright tones that instantly lift a space. Mix and match them for a fun look or go for one bold hue – whichever suits your scheme best. Plus, they are often foldable, meaning you can make more room if needs be.

Note the timber raised beds that border this decked space, too. This is a good, affordable approach, particularly if you use reclaimed garden sleepers.

10. Give existing deck furniture a makeover

trex decking with bench and parasol

A summer-ready scene, with decking from Trex

(Image credit: Trex)

Already have a deck but it's looking a little lackluster? One of the best cheap decking ideas for getting it as good as new again is to give everything a clean. 

Learn how to clean a patio umbrella, and even more importantly, how to clean decking, and you'll be well on your way. 

Get your outdoor furniture looking shipshape, too, by giving it a spruce. Maybe an old wooden bench just needs a bit of sanding and a new coat of stain, for instance. Or perhaps you want to try out some garden furniture paint ideas for a bolder look.

Add some bunting (you could even make your own if you're feeling savvy with the sewing machine), and perhaps some festoons, and your space will be ready for summertime entertaining in style.

Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.