Your decision on whether to go with Timber or Composite Decking will not only impact the cost, but the aesthetic and the maintenance too! This guide will explore the benefits and downsides of each to help you decide which is most suitable for you.
When considering decking installation, an important decision to make is whether you want either timber or composite decking. There are now more decking options available than ever before, which makes deciding even harder than before.
In this post, we will unveil the dilemma of timber vs composite decking, considering the pros & cons, maintenance, and costs to help make your difficult decision easier.
Timber or Composite Decking:
There is a large variety of timber available to you, these are for the most part put into 2 groups, hardwoods & softwoods. The former includes those such as oak and birch which are much more durable and longer-lasting than the softwood alternative (Fir, Pine, Spruce & More). The increased longevity of the hardwood translates into more expense initially but, if correctly maintained you should expect it to last up to 5-10 years longer than the softwood.
Softwood timber can be permanently enhanced by heating the softwood to remove resin and moisture which in turn makes them more durable and longer-lasting. The more prominent brands of Thermally modified timber are ThermoWood, Kebony, Thor & Accoya.
Composite decking are very typically made from a combination of plastic and wood, which create a durable & robust form of decking. Brands like Deckplus & Hoppings provide quality composite decking.
Composite is usually made from plastics that have been recycled and as it was man-made, has a very uniformed look with colouring that lasts very well. Be sure to lay the decking on a slight slope to allow water to run off.
Wood Decking: The Pros and Cons
Pros of Wood Decking
Easier and quicker to install, particularly for large areas
Sustainable varieties are offered amongst many manufacturers. Up to 100% Recyclable
Very typically cheaper than its composite counterpart
Has more of a natural aesthetic
Many treatments available to extend life and beauty
Unlike composite, you have the option to stain your wooden deck in any variety of colours and finishes that you may desire.
At first sight, the wooden decking may seem like the obvious option given the price difference in favour of wood, but something that is often over-looked is the costs of maintaining the wooden decking, which should always be considered in the overall planning
Cons of Wood Decking
At risk of warping, rotting and splintering in British weather
Higher maintenance is required when comparing against composite decking – requiring regular cleaning and staining
Slippery when wet
The longer you want your wood the last, the more you’ll typically pay upfront
Softwood has a much shorter lifespan than the rest of the products, with hardwoods having the potential to last the longest, but not without substantial expense comparatively
Composite Decking: The Pros and Cons
Pros of Composite Decking
Very low-maintenance when compared
A more durable composition.
Will not rot, splinter, warp or allow algae to grow
Sustainability has become important to many homeowners when it comes to their garden. Wood composite decking can be a more eco sound option compared to timber decking, which is surprising as many would of course assume timber decking would be the better option.
The multiple treatments that timber decking requires get released into the atmosphere during and after use. This issue is avoided with composite as not only do they usually not require any harmful treatments, but boards manufactured from Ecodek (available from Rhino) and others like it are recycled repeatedly and are made from up to 95% recycled materials.
Cons of Composite Decking
Can sometimes lack the ‘Natural’ look
Can be scratched
Repairing or replacing can be more difficult
Once the decking has been laid you won’t be able to change the colours
They do look similar to wood however due to not being 100% wood, they could be missing that ‘natural’ look that some people want.
The colouring on composite decking has been made permanent to help prevent long-term fading, so if you’re a bit fussy and like to switch up your garden and house a bit, perhaps wooden decking would be the better choice as you would be stuck with the colour for a long time lest you reinvest
How to guarantee the durability of Timber Vs Composite Decking
The BS EN 350-1 is the British standard for measuring the durability of wood & wood based products. They are categorised between one – five, one being the best. Any Timber decking should have a rating of at least three, really try to ensure a rating of one if you opt for the hardwood option, as you want to ensure the longevity of your investment.
Comparatively, the British standard that applies to composite decking is the (BS EN ISO 14125), it determines the flexural properties of plastic composites. This system is still relatively new, so it isn’t as equally reliable as of yet, but improvements are happening all the time to ensure both quality and longevity.
Is wood or composite decking easier to maintain?
The next question you should ask yourself is “How much maintenance am I prepared to do”, if the answer is “not a lot” then Composite is 100% the choice for you, it requires far less maintenance and upkeep than Timber. Timber requires regular staining, painting or treating, where as composite requires none of these as well as retaining its colour for longer than wood.
When the composite meets the inevitable spills, it won’t be a problem to clean as the new generations have the boards produced with a very thin layer of plastic all over which also adds everyday protection from the elements.
The feature of requiring less maintenance (composite) does come with its drawbacks, such as scratches being able to occur more easily due to the plastic composite; and having to still be cleaned regularly to prevent moisture build up.
If you’re happy to carry out the recommended maintenance, then hardwood & thermally modified wood have the potential to outlive its composite counterpart by several decades. Which also comes with the benefit of being able to replace individual boards much more easily.
What Is the Cost of Wood Decking Vs Composite?
Arguably the largest factor when deciding on decking is the cost, which vary a large amount depending on what products and materials you opt for.
If you’re looking for an affordable option, the softwood decking would be that. You will notice the quality dropping much sooner than if you were to go for hardwood, thermally enhanced or composite. But if maintained well you can still achieve a pleasing, natural look for up to 10 years.
Composite decking is a relatively new technology and as such has been the upmarket product for sometime as typically it has been much more expensive than softwood and hardwood. However, due to the cost of Timber rising by a very substantial amount in the last 2 years, the price gap between composite and timber has shrunken massively.
Decking and Maintenance is available to pick up and for delivery from Rhino! If you can’t find what you want on our website, just call up 01493 751762 and speak to one of our staff about your enquiry.