29th May 2023 -

Whether you’re planning to upgrade your garden with brand-new decking or you have an ongoing project which requires decking to be built, it can be difficult to decide what material is the best choice for your needs between timber and composite. 

Whether you’re looking for a sustainable and cost-effective decking solution, something versatile and easy to install, or are more focused on durability and long-term value, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and comparisons between timber and composite decking.

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What is Timber Decking?

Timber decking is a popular choice for creating outdoor spaces that blend seamlessly within their natural surroundings. 

Produced with natural wood that has been pressure-treated with preservatives to enhance its durability, weather performance, and resistance to insect damage.

Timber decking also boasts a natural beauty and warmth that can be hard to replicate with other materials. The rich grains, textures, and colours of different wood species are able to add a touch of elegance and charm to any outdoor space. 

What is Composite Decking? 

Composite decking is a modern and versatile alternative to traditional timber decking, made from a combination of recycled wood fibres, plastics, and binding agents. These materials are mixed together and formed into boards through a moulding process, forming a durable and low-maintenance decking material that mimics the appearance of natural wood while offering enhanced performance and longevity.

Composite decking provides several benefits that make it an attractive choice for outdoor projects. 

First and foremost, composite decking is highly durable and resistant to rot, decay, and insect damage. It does not require staining, sealing, or painting, saving you time and effort on maintenance, while being less prone to warping, splintering, and fading. 

Another advantage of composite decking is its versatility in design and aesthetics, with a diverse range of colours, textures, and finishes available, allowing you to easily achieve your desired aesthetic. 

Composite decking can also be made from 100% recycled materials, reducing its environmental cost.

brown pine

Comparing the Costs: Timber vs Composite Decking

Timber decking can range from £15 to £40 per square foot in the UK, including the cost of materials and installation, however, there are several factors, such as species, lumber grade, and your region that can affect its cost. 

With proper care and maintenance, timber decking can offer excellent durability, even lasting for several decades. While this can therefore save money over time, it’s important to consider the cost and time commitment of ongoing maintenance.

Composite decking typically ranges in price from £25 to £70 per square foot in the UK, depending on factors such as the brand, quality, design, and additional features like hidden fastening systems or specialised finishes.

Composite decking's resistance to rot, insect damage, and fading ensures that it maintains its aesthetic appeal and performance for years to come. Additionally, composite decking's eco-friendly qualities and the use of recycled materials contribute to its value as a sustainable and responsible choice for outdoor projects.

Timber vs Composite: The Pros and Cons

The best decking choice for your project, whether you are installing it within your own garden or working for a client, will depend on taste, maintenance requirements, budget, and more.

Below, we explore some of the pros and cons of each option, helping you make an informed choice for your project.

The Pros of Timber Decking:

  • Natural Beauty: Timber decking offers a timeless and natural aesthetic, with real wood bringing a warmth and rustic charm to your project that can’t be found anywhere else. For some homeowners, there is no comparison.
  • Customization Options: Timber decking can be stained, painted, or sealed in various colours and finishes to match your desired style. It allows for more customisation and personalisation potential.
  • Affordability: Timber decking is often more affordable upfront compared to composite decking, making it a budget-friendly option for those looking for a natural wood appearance.

Things to Consider With Timber Decking

  • Maintenance: Timber decking requires regular maintenance, including staining, sealing, and periodic re-finishing to protect against weathering, rot, and insect damage. It also needs regular cleaning and may require occasional repairs or replacements.
  • Durability: While timber decking can be durable, it is more susceptible to natural wear and tear, such as warping, splintering, and fading over time. Regular maintenance is essential to prolong its lifespan.

The Pros of Composite Decking

  • Low Maintenance: Composite decking is highly durable and requires minimal maintenance. It does not need staining, sealing, or painting, and it is resistant to rot, insects, and fading. Regular cleaning is usually sufficient to keep it in excellent condition.
  • Longevity: Composite decking has a longer lifespan compared to timber decking. It is designed to withstand the elements and maintain its appearance and structural integrity over many years.
  • Sustainability: Composite decking often incorporates recycled materials, reducing the demand for natural wood. It is considered an eco-friendly option for environmentally conscious homeowners.

Things to Consider With Composite Decking

  • Initial Cost: Composite decking may have a higher upfront cost compared to timber decking. However, it is important to consider the long-term cost savings due to its low maintenance requirements and extended lifespan.
  • Aesthetics: While composite decking offers a range of colours and finishes, some may argue that it lacks the authentic look and feel of natural timber. However, advancements in composite technology have improved its resemblance to real wood.
composite decking

How to Choose the Best Decking for Your Needs

When it comes to choosing the right decking material for your project, It all comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of your project. 

While timber decking can offer more by way of natural beauty, customization options, and affordability, this option can require you to spend more time and money maintaining it in the long term. 

On the other hand, composite decking boasts low maintenance, durability, and sustainability, but comes with a higher upfront cost and can lack the specific warmth and charm you may be looking for. 

Discover the Perfect Decking Material for Your Project

Whether you’re seeking a stylish, sleek, and modern solution to your outdoor project, or you’re searching for something more rustic, natural, and charming, we have a wide range of decking options available which can suit your requirements, delivered across the UK at great prices. 

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