Planning the perfect decking for your outdoor entertainment area comes with many challenges, particularly when it comes to choosing the best decking material to suit your climate and property.
If you’re thinking of installing a new deck to enjoy the summer heat, have a place to get entertained with friends and family or simply breathe some new life into your backyard, then you may want to weigh up the features of both composite and timber decking's.
Timber Decking: The Analysis
Timber decking's have been the staple choice for every home given their versatility, natural look and low cost. They perfectly complement any pergola construction and pose a classic finish - making it a great choice for many homes looking for cost-effective decking.
Benefits of timber decking:
There are plenty of benefits to timber decking's and a major selling point is its ability to be changed and styled to your liking. If you’re no longer happy with the previous staining, you can easily strip it and switch it up for a different finish.
If you’re a DIY person, timber is also a great choice given how simple it is to work with. Timber can be cut, sanded, shaped, painted and stained to your liking making it extremely beginner-friendly for those small home projects.
Certain types of timber are an economical choice for smaller houses or those on a budget, but looking for an effective decking solution.
Some people also prefer the aesthetic of timber, and although composite decks try to mimic the natural feel of timber, that may not compare to the real thing for some homeowners.
With how readily available timber is, it is a cost-effective solution for the short-term but may require ongoing maintenance such as oiling and re-coating in order to keep it vibrant and healthy.
Things to consider when going for a timber deck:
There are some negative drawbacks of using timber for your deck. One of the major problems with timber is it is easily susceptible to weathering, meaning that your deck can splinter, warp and rot against the elements which aren’t ideal for kids or pets.
To keep your deck in great condition, it will require some ongoing maintenance such as staining and painting in the long-run can make it a more costly investment than composite decking's which require less upkeep.
U.V rays may also make the shine and coating of timber fade over time, requiring more
The type of timber you choose for your decking will be integral in how you maintain it and its longevity.
Many homeowners prefer using hardwood given its durability, as it’s less likely to sustain scratches and marks, however, Merbau has emerged as one of the more popular choices for modern homes given its natural durability.
If Merbau or hardwood timber isn’t suitable, you might also want to consider treated pine as a cheap alternative.
It is less rot-resistance and insect prone but also suffers from warping and splitting like other traditional types of timber, so take that into consideration.
Composite Decking: The Analysis
Composite decking's are increasingly becoming popular choice for many modern homes, given they mimic the feel of a timber decking without any ongoing maintenance required.
Composite decks are made from recycled plastic, reclaimed timber and bamboo and as such, won’t produce that “traditional” and natural decking look, however, they have been manufactured to provide a look that is very similar to timber decking.
Benefits of composite decking:
There are plenty of reasons to choose a composite decking over timber, but the main reason can always be pinpointed that it requires little ongoing maintenance.
Unlike timber, you won’t need to worry about staining or refining your composite deck to help keep its vibrant, healthy look all-year-round.
It is also less susceptible to weather damage, rot, mould and mildew making it a durable choice for homeowners that live in volatile climates or perfect for pool and spa areas.
Given this, high-quality manufacturers generally carry a warranty of 20+ years which is far higher than timber which requires annual refinishing and coating.
Also unlike timber, composite decking boards do not warp, splinter or cup, making it a safer choice for families and pet owners.
Composite decking boards may fade initially after installation, but generally, they maintain their colour and shine without needing to oil or varnish them to preserve their shine.
Their installation process is also comparable to timber decking boards, however, composite boards are thicker and denser than timber and expand in the heat so it may be helpful to understand a few decking fundamentals before you get started.
Things to consider when going for a composite decking:
There aren’t many downsides when it comes to composite decking, mainly because the innovative manufacturing has made them such a great choice for many homes in all different climates.
The biggest downside of composite deck boards is undoubtedly cost. Depending on the manufacturer, warranty and quality, the cost may be almost twice as much in comparison to Merbau or treated pine decks.
Depending on your taste and preference, you might not like the feel or look of composite decking which may be the ultimate deciding factor.
You’ll also want to make sure you select a suitable colour from the beginning, as you won’t be able to strip it and re-paint your deck again like you can with timber.
In order to achieve a more “natural” timber look, you’ll want to make sure you source out high-quality manufacturers, as low-quality composite decking boards will fail to provide that natural appeal.
A Head-To-Head Comparison
By now, you should know there are several key differences between composite and timber decks, but to help you streamline your decision-making process, we’ll provide a quick comparison of both.
· You can strip and re-paint/stain timber if you’re not happy with the colour, but you cannot do so with composite deck boards.
· Composite decks are generally much more expensive than timber but offer a higher manufacturer warranty of 25-50 years.
· Timber decks are more susceptible to weather damage, rot and mould in comparison to composite decking but are a much cheaper option.
· Outdoor areas that are not covered or are near chlorinated pools would benefit from composite decking over timber or treated pine due to its durability.
· Low-quality composite decking boards won’t provide a feel similar to timber, so you may have to spend more for higher quality.
· Timber decks can end up warping and splintering, so it may not be the best choice for young families or pet owners.
The biggest takeaway when comparing the two ultimately comes down to budget. If your budget allows for it, composite decks have much more durability and can withstand the elements far better than timber.
What Is the Best Choice for My Home?
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to picking a deck for your home.
There are benefits and drawbacks for both composite and timber style decks so you need to weigh them up and see what is more beneficial for your home.
If you’re looking for a smaller deck, you might want to go with an economical choice in timber or treated pine.
If you have a big budget and/or have kids and pets, a composite deck may make the most sense both from a safety and durability standpoint.
If your home resides in a hot or temperamental climate, composite decks won’t fade over time and won’t be susceptible to rot or splintering.
It all depends on your taste, preference, style of decking and your budget flexibility.
Just remember that if you do pick a composite decking for your home, that you pick your ideal colour from the very beginning as you cannot start over.
When it comes to choosing a suitable deck for your home, it pays to weigh up the pros and cons of both timber and composite decking to help reach a final decision.
Take into consideration your property layout, budget, safety and durability of the two vastly different decking boards.
Guest Author Bio:
With years of industry experience, Matthew Ferguson is a landscaping expert and the proud owner of Ferguson Landscape & Design, a Melbourne-based landscaping company specialising in construction and design, deck building, retaining walls, paving and other garden maintenance services.