Cooking on your deck: creating delicious meals in your garden

Cooking on your deck means you can spend more time outdoors, preparing and enjoying delicious meals in the open air.

Building a garden deck means you can enjoy spending more time outdoors. Preparing meals outside is a great way to make the most of your garden. We talk to Ty McKend of ProQ Barbecues and Smokers to get some tips and ideas for cooking on your deck.

1. Can you tell us about the ProQ Smokers ethos and what makes your products stand out?

We are a family run business with strong ethics: we strive to educate and inspire others to share the same enjoyment of BBQ, outdoor cooking, and the love of food as we do. Our product design reflects this. We aim to make all our BBQs as versatile as possible!

2. At Gripsure, we’ve seen a massive increase in demand for our non-slip decking since the start of the pandemic. With more people using their gardens and entertaining at home are you experiencing a similar pattern?

Absolutely. I think more people than ever picked up a new hobby, and BBQ was certainly one of them. I think this year we’ll probably see more garden parties than ever, now that so many people have had the time to practice and perfect their outdoor cooking skills.

3. What’s the difference between a barbecue smoker and the ordinary barbecues that many people have lurking in their sheds?

A BBQ smoker allows you to control your cooking temperature much more accurately. That means you can cook anything from your usual burgers or sausages to a whole brisket, maybe some ribs and even the Christmas turkey.

4. You also sell cold smokers. What’s cold smoking and what sorts of foods do your customers use cold smokers for?

Before modern-day refrigeration, the way we preserved fresh or cured food was to salt and smoke it over smouldering wood. Nowadays we tend to mostly use smoke to impart wonderful aromatic flavours to a wide range of foods. This method, known as cold smoking, is the process of creating wood smoke without cooking or heating your food. You can cold smoke salmon, bacon, cheese, nuts, and even butter or marmite.

5. You share a lot of recipes on your website. Do you have a favourite?

It’s got to be our Beef Cheek Tacos!

6. What are the most common mistakes people make when they’re barbecuing?

I think there are two key elements to cooking outdoors.

The first is to make sure your fire is set up right for what you’re cooking. Be patient, cook things more slowly, and you’ll avoid burnt outsides with raw middles. Don’t overfill the BBQ, you can always add more charcoal.

The second is about knowing when food is ready, by cooking to temperature instead of relying on cooking time or the colour of the food. Grab a digital probe and a temperature chart and you can’t go wrong. This applies to cooking indoors too.

7. What should people think about when choosing a barbecue or smoker for their garden?

Think about the number of people you cook for on a regular basis and get something slightly bigger than that. It’s always nice to have a little extra room.

Try to consider the different techniques you want to use. These could include slow cooking, grilling, or smoking. Do some research about what you’re buying to make sure it does everything you need it to. Lastly, I would say buy the best you can afford. Many brands now offer really good warranty (ours is 10 years!), so there’s no need to fall into the trap of buying cheap and buying twice.

8. What advice would you give to someone using a barbecue smoker for the first time?

Don’t stress too much and expect it to take more time than you think. Smoking is a process, so try and enjoy it. Use a thermometer – it will give you the confidence that your food is ready and safe.

9. What fuel do you recommend people use on your smokers and why?

Good quality lumpwood is really easy to find and relatively cost effective for shorter cooks. We also do a coconut-based “Cocoshell” briquette that will last for ages during longer cooks.

10. Like Gripsure, you’re based in Cornwall but have an international customer base. How has the company grown and developed since you set up in 2008? Are there any future plans you’d like to share?

In 2008, we designed and developed the very first ProQ BBQ Smoker. With plenty of requests for a cold smoking feature, the patented ProQ Cold Smoke Generator quickly followed. We’re at over 70 BBQ Smoker and cold smoking products and accessories.

We’ve just launched the ProQ Flatdog portable BBQ, which folds completely flat, to try and keep those disposable BBQs off the beaches. Our other new product is the ProQ Travel BBQ Multi-tool that unfolds into a fork and spatula, then clips together to make a pair of tongs.

If you’re planning to create an outdoor cooking and dining area, check out our Residential range. With Gripsure non-slip decking, you can create a beautiful, safe space to enjoy all year round.

Non-slip decking: what is the best timber to use?

We’ve compiled a comprehensive timber analysis to help guide your decision when choosing anti-slip decking.

Non-slip decking is a great way to make use of your garden all year round. Not only can it be customised and personalised, but it also allows you to create alluring and safe outdoor spaces. Many people choose garden decking to create functional areas for families whilst some just prefer it to a traditional garden.

Softwood and hardwood have their own individual qualities so it’s important to consider what the space will be used for when it comes to choosing the best timber for decking. We’ve compiled a comprehensive analysis between the two, to help guide your decision.

Softwood and hardwood

Hardwood timber comes from trees which are slower to mature. Oak and Beech are just two examples of hardwood trees you might find in the UK. They’re made up of a more complex structure, will lose their leaves in autumn and regrow them in the warmer months. They’re more often found in temperate countries where they will only shed occasionally.

Softwood trees are much faster growing and in great supply. They’re coniferous and retain their needles all year round. Some examples are Pine, Redwood, and Cedar.

Price difference

Price will most likely be one of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to choosing the timber for your non-slip decking. Due to its fast-growing nature, softwood is widely available meaning it has a lower price than hardwood. Hardwood’s complex structure makes it more difficult to process. When combined with how long it can take a hardwood tree to grow, you can justify the higher price.

Other pricing factors may also influence your decision. For example, softwood decking will need treating or staining. It will also depend on where you are building your garden decking and on what type of surface. Will you need to prepare your ground? There are extra costs to consider but, ultimately, adding non-slip decking to your home can add value to a property.

Durability and ease of maintenance

In terms of their durability, softwoods are generally less dense which makes them more susceptible to moisture and rot. However, if the wood is treated and sealed before the decking installation, you can improve its resistance to bad weather. Bear in mind that softwood decking will need annual maintenance to ensure it keeps its look and durability. Most softwood timber decking boards will have a 15-to-20-year lifespan.

Whilst hardwood decking boards require less maintenance than that of their softwood counterparts, it’s still advisable to do so. Softwood or hardwood decking boards are still timber. This natural material is likely to weather and age naturally, so staining, oiling, and cleaning your deck as needed will help to keep it looking fresh.

Hardwood decking is known for its longevity. Woods like Yellow Balau and Cumaru are renowned for their water resistance and their stability and can last for up to 50 years. For the most part, it can be left alone and will uphold its robustness. The average life span for a piece of hardwood decking is from 30 to 50 years.

Look and feel

Look will no doubt be a priority when choosing the best non-slip decking. A garden is an extension of a person’s home. So, the look and feel of it needs to reflect that. As well as coming in a variety of different shapes, sizes and heights, the wood you choose will have the most noticeable difference.

Hardwood decking is more comparable to having an indoor floor outside. It’s typically smoother due to its more complex structure. The shades tend to be dark with a much warmer tone. These can be anything from a brown tone to a darker, golden brown. Hardwood decking is also unlikely to need staining unless you’re after a different look for your garden.

Softwoods are typically a much lighter shade of timber decking. When treated it has a pale green tinge to the wood. Just like a tan, after a few weeks outdoors, it will turn more golden. If you choose to use a stain, then you can make the wood much darker, even closer to a hardwood shade. With softwood, you have more options to customise it.

When you should use each

It’s good to think about what you will be using your garden for when considering the best timber for decking. Will it be exposed to the elements? Will it be a high-traffic area? For example, if you have a swimming pool or a hot tub, hardwood generally has a better moisture resistance.

How heavily will your deck be used? For the average household, softwood decking is perfectly suitable and durable for an average amount of use. If your deck will need to withstand heavy foot traffic and will see lots of use, then consider hardwood.

Another more sustainable alternative is bamboo decking. Bamboo is in plentiful supply so it’s great for the planet. It’s also durable, low maintenance and can last for 30 to 50 years. If you’re trying to make more environmentally conscious choices, then definitely consider bamboo decking as it also absorbs carbon over its lifetime.

Should you choose hardwood or softwood, it can still be done sustainably if you buy from Gripsure. All of our timber is certified under the industry flagship standards of FSC and PEFC and we plant one tree for every order placed with the help of Plant One Cornwall.


  • As the price of softwood decking is lower, if you’re on a budget and are more interested in having a great-looking deck for the near future go for softwood
  • If you’re willing to spend a bit more money on your decking and want it to withstand the test of time, hardwood is a great long-term investment
  • Consider bamboo decking for a more sustainable choice or buy soft and hard woods directly from Gripsure where the timber is FSC and PEFC certified
  • Both softwood and hardwood require maintenance – it’s inescapable if you want to preserve your decking
  • We can guarantee a minimum of a 15-year lifespan for softwood and 30 for hardwood and bamboo as well as our 15-year non-slip guarantee

So what is the best timber for decking?

There is no definitive answer to what the best timber for decking is as it all comes down to an individual’s needs, budgets and wants. Both softwood and hardwood have their own unique qualities that make them great for garden decking—it’s all just a matter of preference.

We hope this information has guided your decision. However, if you’re still looking for answers as to which non-slip decking will be the best for your home, have a read through our FAQ or get in touch.