Published: September, 2018

Overcoming the challenges in designing and constructing terraces

Richard McMullan, Kinley's specification and technical consultant shares a small insight into his experience of making a roof space work.

Let’s consider what is possible in roof terrace design.

With technology and innovative product design, many of the visions you once thought would remain out of reach, can become reality. And with the rise in popularity of outdoor space in urban developments, it is now vital to prioritise a terrace when planning a new construction project. If you have creative aspirations, you will need technical support to get the right products to design the inspirational space you imagined.

While at Kinley we focus on the tangible elements of making aspirational outdoor space, over the years we have seen first-hand many of the pitfalls of designing a roof space.

How to manage different surfaces with one sub-structure

One of our priorities is to enable plenty of creative scope for designers. In the case of roof space that means reducing the complication of designing different base structures to hold different elements of the terrace – such as decking, paving and other materials like synthetic grass. Being able to use one sub-structure framework, as you can with Kinley’s Raaft joist and support system, makes so much more possible with simple alignment of a range of different surface finishes. For example, you can put porcelain tiles, planters, composite decking and artificial grass, all on the same structure, which allows for so much more variety and creativity in design of the scheme. A huge bonus for inspiring architects and landscape designers.


Think about the planting scheme

As land prices rise, we are seeing building developments becoming taller. High level roof terraces have an impact on planting schemes. For example, if you want to include trees, planters will need to be of a size and depth that allows for sufficient soil depth for successful growth.

Higher altitude means you also have to consider things like increased wind speed, which will escalate levels of transpiration. This often influences the type of plant species that can be incorporated and the plant species chosen affects the amount of irrigation that is required. The increased rate of transpiration (the amounts of water a plant draws through its system) of the plants means that more water is required. We often help designers and contractors consider how an irrigation system can be installed and seamlessly connected to planters.

When considering planters, the Perimeta steel planter system benefits from being modular which makes it easier to physically deliver to the roof space, and much easier to construct on site. Being robust but slimline means that they maximise soil volume whilst still remaining relatively lightweight.

Consider on-going maintenance

Terraces usually incorporate some kind of decking area. Timber decking will become slippery in winter, will require on-going maintenance to keep it clean, and will usually discolour or fade in sunlight.

Another current focus in construction involves limiting the use of combustible materials – something which timber presents an obvious risk. On the other hand, composite decking is hardwearing, low maintenance and has a class B combustibility (will not ignite, issue little smoke, and will not drop any particles). If you choose Terrafina, it will also have excellent slip resistance and is more UV stable than timber and, thanks to a unique clip and clamp mechanism, is around twice as fast to install than traditional timber or other composite deck systems.

At Kinley, we are renowned for the high level of technical and practical support that we will bring to a project. We help turn complex and challenging ideas into reality. When we work with you, we take those complex and challenging ideas and help you turn them into logistical possibilities.

Don’t hesitate to contact us and arrange to discuss your designs in detail through

About Richard

Richard is a specification and technical consultant and has been with Kinley for more than 8 years. He has extensive knowledge of construction techniques and challenges across a wide range of external landscape and terrace environments. He has presented to over 600 audiences providing training and insight into innovative products and methods for overcoming typical challenges in landscape design and construction.

Find out more about Richard

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