This informal CPD article, ‘The sky is the limit: decking and roof areas in cities’, was provided by Arbor Forest Products, one of the largest independent timber importing businesses in the UK, providing outstanding service and distribution to merchants.
Since 2020, when restrictions were introduced in response to the pandemic, an increasing number of businesses have opted to expand their useable spaces from the inside out. Many bars and restaurants across the country were granted permission to extend their seating areas outside, including into pedestrianised roads, and most have continued to use these spaces as a permanent extension.
However, using ground-level outdoor areas isn’t always an option – particularly in major cities where roads must remain in use and available space is often minimal – and business owners in cities may need to explore alternative options for creating outside areas.
Where this is the case, it’s worth looking up: transforming roof areas is continuing to grow in popularity. Roof terrace bars and restaurants with uninterrupted views of the city skyline have long been thought of as the pinnacle of luxury, while rooftop communal areas lean into the more modern trend for offices designed with wellbeing in mind.
Whatever the intended use, composite decking can offer a stylish yet practical solution. As with any commercial space though, there are a number of important considerations before undertaking a project, from safety to design.
Safety is always the priority in any commercial design scheme, and creating a roof terrace for a bar, office and anything in between is no exception.
One of the key safety considerations – and legal requirements – for all commercial projects is minimising the risk of slips. Flooring must have a Pendulum Test Value (PTV) rating of at least 36 under both wet and dry conditions. The pendulum test measures slip resistance, and is the only legally accepted measure of this in matters relating to proof of safe flooring – making it a vital consideration for any space that will be used by the public. Fortunately, some composite decking products are designed to be suitable for commercial use and have undergone rigorous safety tests.
As well as suitable flooring, there are a number of further steps that can be taken to maximize safety for any roof terrace, including the addition of lighting to decking. Lighting can be installed into decking boards, not only adding ambience but also acting as a useful guide throughout the space, including highlighting potential hazards such as stairs.
Due to the nature of rooftop spaces, where high walls are not already in place, the addition of railings is important. There is now a wide variety of railings available to choose from, including clear glass railings to avoid obstructing views across the city.