National Manufacturing Institute Scotland

Decking company elevated to new heights with ‘floating’ gardens

Macdeck Landscaping – a specialist decking company – is gearing up for significant growth after receiving a patent for its unique deck system, which could be used in a range of new sectors.

The company is in talks with builders’ merchants and other potential distributors to sell the panel systems across the UK. Macdeck worked with the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), part of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) Group, and the Advanced Composites Group (ACG) of the University of Strathclyde on its development, with the help of the Innovation Voucher Scottish Funding Council (SFC) funding by Interface. NMIS is operated by the University of Strathclyde and is part of the High-Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC).

Macdeck’s lightweight panels are fixed on top of a timber frame and are designed to cover difficult ground, such as slopes or areas prone to flooding. Customers can choose to have porcelain tiles, gravel or natural turf installed on top of the panels, creating ‘floating’ gardens in spaces that may otherwise have been unusable.

As climate change brings heavier rain and increased risk of floods, Macdeck’s product could be used to futureproof gardens and other landscapes. Less soil or other base material is needed to build ground or foundations, and less heavy machinery and concrete is required, making the process much more carbon friendly.

The modern alternative to softwood decking is Composite but some boards can weigh as much as 45kg per square metre, limiting what can be placed on top. However, Macdeck’s panels made from a composite material weigh just 10kg allowing the system to carry significantly heavier top layer materials. The material, GRP, was initially designed for use in marine environments, making it strong, durable, and a safer material to walk on.

Tony McCaffrey, Director, Macdeck Landscaping, said:

The patent for our new landscaping solution is a big step forward for Macdeck that could see us breaking into new markets.

“NMIS support and expertise has been invaluable in helping us accelerate the development and refine the product. The positive results of the research gave me the confidence to take the panels to market and apply for a patent.

“We’re receiving significant interest from other landscaping companies wanting to use our system. With the patent now in place we can start delivering panels to the other merchants and approach sectors such as civil construction.

“Our next step is to expand and grow the business, and we have already hired two new apprentices and we’re looking to add CAD designs to support our manufacturing process further.”

The AFRC and the ACG teams supported with the product development by carrying out the research on the properties of the panels and a representative unit of the whole system, using both experimental testing and computer modelling.

Katya McKenna, SME engagement lead, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, said:

We are thrilled to have been part of this project and to witness the success that Macdeck Landscaping has achieved.

“It’s great to see a small business turning its idea into reality. Macdeck’s unique project aligns perfectly with our mission to make our expertise in materials science and engineering really useful to our industry clients, and we are proud to have played a role in helping it bring the product to market.”

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