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Decking: Composite vs Wood

Decking has been used to add structure and style to gardens across the UK for years.

If you are thinking about using it as a feature in your garden, there are multiple decisions to be made. Making the best choice for your space will hinge on certain factors: budget, maintenance, durability and maybe most importantly, the look you want to achieve.

Today we’re taking a look at these areas and comparing timber and composite decking features.

Decking Costs

Costs for timber decking depend on the type of wood used – softwood decking is a fair amount cheaper than both hardwood decking and most composite decking options. Hardwood decking can be closer in price to composite decking. Something to consider, however, is when using timber decking, you will also need to buy oil or stain to keep it looking its best for a longer time. You will need to spend out further over the lifetime of the decking to maintain it, whereas with composite, this is not necessary.

One thing to consider about composite decking is that it is not a structural material so it requires more support than timber decking. Placing joists closer together to support the decking, prevent sagging or breakages is possible and will give the decking strength, but the additional supports can push up the overall cost of your deck structure.

Decking Maintenance and Life Spans

Well maintained timber decking can last a lifetime. Conversely, if not properly cared for, problems can occur with discolouration, bowing, mould or even rot. If you are prepared to put in the maintenance, timber can be sanded down and sections can even be replaced. If a specific area rots, it is possible to treat just that part, rather than replace the lot! Looking after your decking will help it to keep a pristine appearance and make it last.

Composite decking will last 20-30 years but requires less maintenance. Most composite decking has no need to be treated or stained to stop damage from moisture and just needs to be cleaned regularly. However, composite decking can be more prone to scratches because of its plastic content. These scratches are harder to repair than on timber as composite cannot be sanded down so superficial damage cannot be removed.

Think of your feet

Timber decking has two common hazards: splinters and it can become extremely slippery when wet. Composite decking on the other hand is less slippery and obviously splinter free.

Feel and Look

Composite decking comes in a range of colours and finishes. The finish is usually consistent – every board will be the same finish, whereas timber decking will have colour variations due to the natural wood. Timber can be painted to a colour of your choice, but maintenance will again be higher with this option. Composite decking will keep the same look and colour for longer without the need for ongoing maintenance, so if you would like a hassle-free deck this could the better choice. Or you may simply prefer the look and feel of real wood, or the luxury of a hardwood deck.

Ultimately, whether you go for traditional timber or composite, the choice is yours. Good decking, carefully structured to suit your garden can be a real asset - whatever it’s made from!


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