If you’re considering adding a deck to your home, the most important decision to make is what kind of decking material you’re going to use.
These days, the two most popular choices tend to be composite decking and timber decking. Each material has its pros and cons,but each will provide you with a fantastic deck for years to come.
To help you choose, it’s important to understand the differences between the two materials. So, we’re going to quickly run you through the differences between composite and timber decking materials.
Quality composite decking boards are generally made from reclaimed timber and recycled plastics. As the manufacturing technology has improved over the past few decades, they have become an increasingly popular substitute for timber due to a range of engineered properties.
Composite decking is a low maintenance and long-lasting decking option. It doesn’t require regular painting, staining and sealing and should last longer than most timber decks with very little maintenance. It’s also less likely split or crack than timber.
Quality composite materials are UV-stabilised, meaning they won’t fade to grey or bleach due to exposure to the sun. On top of that, some brands of composite decking are more eco-friendly than natural timbers. Brands made from reclaimed timber and recycled plastic won’t contribute to deforestation and help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill. Since composite boards don’t need regular oiling or staining, they require fewer harmful chemicals and oils for maintenance.
The downsides of composite boards are mostly related to the look and the cost. While they are available in a range of timber-style finishes, composite decking struggles to replicate the natural look of timber that many find so appealing. And, while tough and durable, they don’t quite have the same underfoot feel as natural timber boards.
Finally, composite materials are generally more expensive than timber. While you may recoup your costs over time due to savings on maintenance, it does mean a greater upfront investment.
When it comes to timber decking, you need to bear in mind the wide range of timbers available and the very different properties and prices for different materials. Your basic pressure-treated pine will be cheap but won’t be very durable and won’t look great. Whereas high-end imported or native hardwoods will look amazing, be ultra-durable but also be expensive.
Quite simply, there is no substitute for the look and feel of high-quality timber decking. The wide range of different timbers available offers a spectrum of natural colours, tones and beautiful graining patterns.
Timber is also a cost-effective option, especially when you consider basic timber options like pressure-treated pine. Using pine can be the cheapest decking option available, and with proper maintenance it will last you a long time.
However, the main problem with timber is the heavy maintenance requirements. Without proper oiling, painting, staining and sealing, timber is vulnerable to rot, decay, termites, moisture damage and sun fading. The chemicals required for upkeep can also be pricey and damaging to the environment.
Making your choice
In short, the choice really comes down to aesthetics and maintenance requirements. If you want a deck with the natural look and feel of timber and you aren’t concerned about the ongoing cost and time investment in maintenance, then timber is the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a deck with few maintenance requirements and you’re willing to pay a little more, then choose composite.