Lots of our customers decide to have a decked area in their garden. When it comes to choosing natural wood or man-made composite, it can be a tough decision. We’ll be working through some of the general pro’s and con’s to help you make the best choice for your garden project.
There are many types & sizes of wood decking to choose from, with each species of wood looking and ageing differently, with many having 20-year guarantees.
Hardwoods come in a variety of colours, whilst softwood decking is usually a light pine colour, but can be stained to virtually any colour you wish.
Then there is the hardwood or softwood choice. ’Hard’ and ‘Soft’ refer to the tree type and generally whether they are deciduous or evergreen. (This will be covered in more detail in a separate blog) Just to make things a little more complicated, hardwoods aren’t always hard and softwood is not always soft. Make sure you research your choice well before purchasing.
Hardwoods generally come from the tropics. Much has been written about illegal logging and deforestation, so please check that your decking comes from a reliable and legal source. Softwood for decking is usually grown in northern Europe and is faster growing than typical hardwoods and therefore generally more sustainable. Both Hard and Softwoods should now come from carefully managed forests but if you’re concerned then you can always look out for the FSC mark.
Both types of wooden decking will need regular cleaning and retreating to extend its lifetime & looks. There’s a whole host of products to help you achieve the finish you want. Do look at any special re-treatment or initial fixing requirements stipulated as part of any guarantee(s). Special oils & screws/fixings for some species of Hardwood can be very expensive.
Cost wise, hardwood decking installation is generally 2 to 3 times more than softwood.
Composite decks have certainly come a long way inthe last 10 years, being more durable in most ways and many come with 25 to 40-year guarantees. They also come in a variety of materials, colours and finishes for a more modern looking outdoor space. They require very little maintenance vs wood. A lite scrub with a gentle soap and water mix twice a year is all they usually need to stay looking good as new. Some types of composite decking can require special fixing clips or fixings which be expensive. Do make sure these are included in any material quotes you get. In most cases, the total installation costs of composite decking will be higher than wood.
What’s underneath still counts!
A house is only as strong as its foundations and it’s much the same with decking. Whether you opt for wood or composite, take advice from your local decking supplier or contractor when purchasing the materials for your deck support frame and don’t skimp on the supporting structure or fixings.
Take care with thinner decking. Cost wise this can look like a good deal, but as this usually needs the support joists to be much closer together to stop the deck “bouncing”, you may not save as much as you think.
Over time the higher costs of composite decking will even out with its wooden counterpart, so if it’s a longer-term investment, it’s worth serious consideration. If you’re not planning to stay in your home for the long haul then wooden decking is great for someone willing to do a bit of DIY and maintain it every year. Both have plus points, and it’s just about what will suit you and your family best!
If you’d like to view some samples of the decking types we can supply or need some advice then please visit us Crestala Fencing Centre, South Farm Lane, Langton Green, Tunbridge Wells, TN3 9NR or get in touch for your free quote.