18th Nov 2022 -

Decking has long been a popular way to create an attractive, multi-purpose space within a garden, but the rigours of UK weather mean that it’s important to choose a suitable decking board, that can withstand rain, wind, and foot traffic. In this guide from Building Materials Nationwide, we’ll explore both timber and composite decking boards, covering their benefits and drawbacks, the sizes sold within the UK, and the comparative prices.

What Are Decking Boards?

When constructing an exterior deck on a house or other property, decking boards will be used to ensure strength and moisture resistance. There are a variety of options available, from timber to composite boards, and boards with anti-slip resistance. Decking boards will be specifically designed and cut to be used as part of a decking application, but you’ll still have options for size, allowing longer boards or more heavy-duty choices.

Decking can be a great addition to any garden, adding a sturdy, attractive space for entertainment and relaxation. It is quick to install, and can be made into different shapes, such as a curved edge to a pond. The size of decking boards allows both small and large decks to be constructed, depending on the size of the garden and the needs of the homeowner. Another benefit of decking boards is that they can make a boggy or uneven garden more usable, providing a raised, flat space.

What Types of Decking Board Are Available?

Decking boards are sold in three different materials, softwood, hardwood, and wood plastic composite, though within the UK you will typically be looking at softwood or composite options. Additionally, there will be timber boards with anti-slip coatings, offering important support in some situations.

Softwood Decking

Softwood decking boards are the most cost-effective option, cut from fast-growing trees like fire or pine. The relatively low density of softwood decking boards means that they are easier to install, but also means that their lifespan will be shorter than the alternatives, with 10 to 15 years of performance expected. Softwood will be a light yellow colour, though it can be stained to give it a different hue. Another thing to keep in mind when looking at softwood decking is that it will need to be cleaned twice yearly to ensure its continued visual and structural stability. You’ll need to properly clean your wood, preserve it, and use decking oils.

grey decking

Hardwood Decking

Hardwood decking is comfortably the most expensive option, due to its costly cultivation process. If opting for hardwood decking boards, expect to pay at least a third more than alternatives. It can also be a more difficult installation job, lacking the pliancy of softwood. The benefits are twofold, a fantastic look and a long lifespan. Hardwood can create a brilliant and sturdy space within your garden, lasting for up to 50 years with minimal maintenance. Though these benefits make hardwood decking stand out, for most people’s needs, softwood or composite decking boards will be more than adequate.

Composite Decking

Composite decking boards are made from a combination of wood and plastic. This means that there will be a far higher degree of choice visually, though none of them will quite capture the look of authentic wood. Composite deck boards prioritise durability and low maintenance, requiring little more than washing over their 25 to 30 years of performance. Composite will come with a higher price tag than softwood decking and a lower one than hardwood.

View All Decking Boards

Anti-Slip Decking

Decking boards can be produced in anti-slip designs, which can be necessary for areas with a high level of rainfall, and in gardens where decking is installed around a hot tub or endless pool. There are other options for making regular decking boards anti-slip, such as anti-slip paint, anti-slip tape, and anti-slip inserts. While anti-slip decking is necessary in some cases, it will come at a higher price tag than regular timber decking.

What Lengths Are Decking Boards Sold in?

At Building Materials Nationwide we sell timber decking in set dimensions but varying lengths. Both our regular decking boards and our anti-slip options will be sold in 150mm x 30mm dimensions, with length options of 3m, 3.6m, 4.2m, and 4.8m.

Our selection of composite decking boards covers a more wide range of sizes, with 150mm width boards offered in 25mm or 32mm thickness, with lengths of 2.4m3.6m, and 4m. We also stock 200mm x 32mm boards in 3.6m lengths.

What Price Are Decking Boards?

Our range of decking boards comes at competitive prices, with our smallest 3m timber boards costing around £17 before VAT for a regular model and around £26 before VAT for an anti-slip board. Comparatively, our largest 4.8m boards will cost around £27 before VAT for the regular option and around £41.50 before VAT for the anti-slip option. For comparison, our 200mm x 32mm woodgrain composite boards at 3.5m length will cost around £44 before VAT.


Are Decking Boards Planed Smooth?

Planing timber involves sanding a piece of timber to have a flat surface. This is done for both aesthetic reasons and to avoid splinters in visible wood products that people will be touching. Most decking boards in the UK will have been planed, though they will typically have a texture to them. This means that they are less likely to be a slipping hazard while avoiding giving splinters to barefoot users of a garden deck. There are some exceptions, with rough-sawn deck planks sometimes used in rugged outdoor areas like bridges and picnic areas. Normally though, you can expect a smooth finish on your timber decking.

Are Decking Boards Waterproof?

When opting for wooden boards you will typically be looking at a pressure-treated timber option. This timber will have been dried and filled with preservatives, designed to give it great levels of water resistance and to repel wood-boring insects, both of which will threaten any untreated timber installed externally. However, you will still need to take care of your wood to ensure its long-term water resistance, using a wood sealant around once a year to ensure that the risks of moisture are kept at bay.

Composite decking will typically boast inbuilt water resistance, with a surface layer of waterproof material. This means that they will resist moisture ingress more effectively than timber decking boards, and also that they will not require the same level of maintenance across their lifespan to maintain their moisture resistance.

Whether opting for timber or composite decking boards, no option will be 100% waterproof. However, a strong level of water resistance can perform very well within even the rainiest UK garden.

How Are Decking Boards Installed?

Decking can be built as a border around a property such as a house, or can be installed standalone within a garden. They are typically installed over a patio or concrete base, or over grass through the use of pegs. The base of the decking will be constructed from treated timber joists, onto which the decking boards can be installed. Boards are typically installed with an expansion gap of 5mm-8mm, due to the natural changes of size in timber. Fascia boards will also be used to line the edges of your decking, obscuring the joists. While some DIY experience is required, installing a quality deck in your garden is within the abilities of a capable amateur.

Our Range of High-Quality Decking Boards For Sale

Perfect for professionals and DIYers alike, our range of decking boards covers both timber and composite options, with anti-slip choices and a range of composite colours. Alongside that, you’ll find our selection of balustrades, allowing you to construct handrails around your decking. Our full product range of building supplies can be delivered across the UK, all sold at competitive prices. For customers within the industry, we offer trade accounts through our website. Trade account holders gain access to our network of suppliers, our express delivery options, and the services of a dedicated account manager, a real person who’ll be able to assist you with large or complex orders. Sign up for a trade account through our website today.

Want to view our range?

View All Decking Boards