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Timber vs Composite Decking

Installing decking in your outdoor space can really vamp up your home’s exterior! Decking can provide a wonderful area to host guests, serve meals, or simply enjoy those beautiful summer evenings in your own private outdoor space. Composite decking is made from wood fibres mixed with plastics, to create a durable and weather-resistant decking with little maintenance to complete when compared to traditional timber. But which material is best overall? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of timber vs composite decking:

Longevity and Maintenance

A well-maintained timber decking can last a lifetime, but this is with the caveat of far more intensive maintenance requirements. Timber decking may “last a lifetime” but only with regular treatment or staining to prevent weathering, and the replacement of failing sections. Timber isn’t naturally waterproof and will rot easily if left damp for lengthy periods of time. If rot occurs, the section will need to be replaced.

Composite decking, on the other hand, still lasts an incredibly long time (up to 30 years) but requires virtually no maintenance beyond keeping it clean. Composite decking is waterproof and weather resistant and cannot rot. However, small scratches cannot be sanded out as they can with timber.

Cost

The cost of timber decking greatly depends on the wood chosen. Soft woods are far cheaper than most composite decking, but hard woods can come at comparable costs. However, when accounting for the additional cost of stains or oils to protect the timber, along with the additional man hours in maintaining it, composite decking can still be the cheaper option in the long run, especially compared to hardwood decking!

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of these materials is contingent, mostly, on how the materials are sourced. Timber is one of the most environmentally friendly materials you can use for construction, but mass deforestation has a devastating effect on the environment. Using sustainable timber and offsetting deforestation by planting new trees is the way to achieve environmentally friendly timber.

In contrast, composite decking contains plastic which is far worse for the environment and produces numerous harmful chemicals during the production process. However, composite cladding can be made from recycled materials, providing a long-term use for recycled plastics, and preventing them from ending up in landfill!