Decking to help family happiness, says study

Having backyard decking in the family home increases happiness and cohesiveness, a new study has shown.

Children report being twice as happy in households with backyard decking, Melbourne researcher Dr Pete Little has found in study of over 1,200 families.

Children in these households also score slightly higher on average on tests of cooperation with others and willingness to help others.

Parents in families with backyard decks report being “extremely happy”, on average, as opposed to those without being “moderately happy”.

The findings applied to decking across Melbourne North of all types of timber, although those were made of cypress pine experienced the most benefits.

Interestingly, the findings only applied to secluded backyards. Those with front decks only did not experience any of the positive outcomes.

Provided the outdoor area was eight square metres or more in size, adding more area to the deck did not affect results. Dr Little hypothesised that the increased happiness and cohesiveness was due in part an added family space, rather than the benefits being intrinsic to the decking itself.

“Research shows that backyard decks are used an average of five times a week during the warmer months,” he explained.

“What we’re seeing here, I suspect, is that families are spending quality time together. While families without a deck may have indoor family spaces, they then do not experience the benefits of being outdoors.”

There was a huge difference in levels of contentment following the installation of front and back decks in Melbourne, couple Timothy and Anna Silver said.

“We could not afford a house with a lounge room, so we did not have any family space before we got our decking done,” said Timothy, “we feel much more content as a family now that we have somewhere to hang out.”

The Silvers and their eight year old son participated in the study, which involved over four hundred participants across Melbourne.