Decking Timber, the strength and warmth of timber has made it a long-time favourite in our homes and outdoor spaces. As materials evolve the decking world has alternative, eco-products in the market which raise the question – do you stick with wood, or make the leap to composites?
Despite the appeal of natural hardwood timbers as a traditional option, it hasn’t always been the most practical and cost-effective choice. With quality man-made composite decking boards on the market offering less maintenance, it’s easy to see why the debate on what the best solution is exists. We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of both to help you make an educated decision about what’s best for you and your outdoor spaces.
COMPOSITE DECKING BOARDS PROS
Environmentally Friendly – Composite decking boards have been carefully engineered and designed to look and feel like natural timber whilst being made from a combination of over 90 percent reclaimed timber, bamboo and recycled plastic.
Designed for Aussie Weather Conditions – These Composite decking boards are suited to all types of weather conditions and are naturally resistant to termites, rot, decay, mildew and mould. It’s also ideal for laying around chlorine pools or in coastal areas near saltwater.
Composite decking boards are also UV, mould and termite resistant which means that their colour won’t fade over time like normal timber and they don’t cup, warp or splinter.
Good quality, modern design composite boards don’t get any hotter than normal hardwood timber in summer, but cheaper versions can get hot, especially darker colour boards as they absorb more heat.
Low Maintenance Deck Care
Perhaps the best-loved feature is that composite decking boards don’t need any painting, sealing, staining, oiling or varnishing. This means many saved maintenance labour hours and more time for relaxing on the deck.
To clean the composite decking boards, you’ll just need a bucket of warm soapy water and a garden hose with a medium pressure nozzle.
For any minor scuffs, marks and scratches, these can be lightly sanded out. Deep gouges may require replacing a whole board.
COMPOSITE DECKING BOARDS CONS
There really aren’t many drawbacks to composite decking, but there are a few worth a mention:
Composite materials can be more expensive initially than cheaper timber boards but are on par with costs of better quality timber decking making it more cost-effective in the long run.
Composite decking materials can’t be stripped and re-stained or painted like timber can, so initial stain colour selection is important to get right.
At the lower-priced end, composite materials don’t always closely replicate the look of timber, giving an unnatural appearance to the deck. The better-quality composite products don’t have this issue and give the appearance of natural timber decking.
HARDWOOD TIMBER DECKING BOARDS PROS
Hardwood timber still remains one of the most popular options today for decking for many reasons, some of these include:
A Renewable Source
Timber is naturally recurring and therefore classified as a renewable source. Timber decking panels have the potential to save you money on initial install, but only in the short term as maintenance costs add to the expense each year.
N.B. Research should be undertaken before purchasing from a company to ensure they’re aligned with environmentally friendly values.
Timber is a traditional product with rustic appeal that is also versatile allowing it to be incorporated into your outdoor area aesthetic. This can be achieved through staining which is available in a variety of colours and paint jobs to create different tones, textures and styles.
Timber can be cut, shaped, sanded back, stained or painted a different colour depending on what you want to achieve and what your budget is.
HARDWOOD TIMBER DECKING BOARDS CONS
Despite our love for the look of timber decking, it can certainly have its drawbacks:
Timber Deck Maintenance
There is a lot of maintenance required to protect your timber deck investment keeping it looking polished and neat. Timber deck maintenance of annual pressure washing and resealing every year or two, regular painting and staining of the wood adds to the upkeep and labour costs making timber decking a costlier option.
Even with a good, regular maintenance regime, timber decking is prone to weathering. Over time timber boards often need to be replaced to keep their appeal as the wood can break down, warp, rot or weaken.
Whilst timber is classified as a renewable source, it does still come from the cutting down of trees. For the environmentally-conscious it’s important to note that not all timber manufactures practice sustainable methods.
Which Decking Timber Wins the Battle – Composite or Hardwood Timber?
So what decking material is best for you? There are various factors to evaluate before making a decision.
You should consider: How will the deck be used? Is it in a shaded or sunny area? How long do you plan to live in your home? Do you plan on doing your own deck maintenance or outsourcing that task? As you can see, there are many considerations as to what the best-suited decking product for your space will be.
Ultimately the decision is yours, finding the best-suited product for the space where your deck will be installed, that is within your budget, that fits with your lifestyle and with the look and feel that compliments your home.