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wood vs composite decking for this back garden

The average Brit spends less than 6 hours outdoors per week. A great way to combat this lack of fresh air is to make outside more appealing – and what better way to do that than adding a stunning garden deck? When it comes to this, you have two main options: wood or composite. Both have their unique set of pros and cons, so let’s take a look at the differences between wood vs composite decking.

First things first, what are they made of?

There are many benefits of composite and wood decking, and these are determined by their materials and manufacture. Now, let’s dive into what makes these materials tick.

Wood decking composition

As you might imagine, wood garden decking is comprised of wood – treated timber boards specifically – and you can acquire these with different finishes from grooved, tanalised timber to smooth finish wood decking. Most wood decking will be pressure treated in order to ensure a long life expectancy.

Composite decking composition

Composite decking is a much newer material, renowned for its strength and versatility. Comprised of a blend of wood, plastic and additives, it is designed to be low-maintenance and long-lasting. Available in practically any colour of the rainbow, you can get either solid or hollow composite boards, with the variety offering an easier, cheaper installation.

wood vs composite decking for hot tub deck

Lifespan

Durability is a pivotal aspect of any product you buy and especially when it comes to decking – you don’t want your decking to degrade after seasons of BBQs and garden parties! So before you calculate the amount of decking you need, ensure you’ve researched the right material for the job.

Composite decking’s life expectancy

Both wood and composite decking will last for years to come, but composite certainly has an edge when it comes to lifespan. Resistant to rot, water-related decay and insects it makes a good choice for budget-conscious buyers. What’s more, manufacturers will often give you warranties of 25 years or more, giving you the reassurance that your decking is here to stay for a long time.

How long does wood decking last?

Wood decking has a timeless look, but its quality is more short-term. Dependent on the type of wood you select, wood can be a bit of a wild card if left unmaintained due to its susceptibility to rot and warping. You can mitigate this, however, by opting for cedar and redwood as these species are naturally rot-resistant.

wood vs composite decking for outdoor seating area

The price question: wood decking vs composite cost

One of the most pressing factors for homeowners choosing between composite or wood decking is the overall cost. So let’s not forget about the price tag!

How much does composite decking cost?

Composite decking is the most expensive of the pair – but don’t let that put you off. Although your initial purchase will be higher, composite deck generally pays for itself within 2-3 years of its installation if you incorporate overall maintenance into the equation.

As composite is such a hardy material, maintenance costs are absolutely minimum. Usually, this works out at 2-4 hours of cleaning your garden decking with either a pressure washer or washing up liquid solution.

And wood decking?

When it comes to decking, wood is a relatively inexpensive option. There’s even some room to shave a little off the overall cost if you opt for a cheaper softwood as opposed to hardwood boards, making it a great option for homeowners on a tight budget.

That being said, you should keep the lifetime cost at the forefront of your mind. Wood decking, as stylish as it is, requires a lot of maintenance to keep it looking that way. Most wood species will experience warping, rot and splintering over time, so it may not be the right choice if the additional upkeep costs or labour involved in keeping it spick and span sound unappealing.

wood vs composite decking for a veranda

Aesthetic appeal

Now, we’ve looked at wood decking vs composite cost it’s time to roll on with the next comparison point: appearance. For the most part, both types of decking can enhance your garden by opening up the space with extra levels, colours and textures, but does one outshine the other? Let’s find out.

The wood deck look

This classic option exhibits a natural, warm-looking finish, which pairs beautifully with rustic, country garden aesthetics. With a great selection of wood species to choose from including redwood, cedar and pressure treated pine, it can offer a variety of colours, grains and durability – perfect for colour scheme aficionados.

Let it be known, however, that wood decking can fade over time if nothing is done to protect it from UV rays and the elements. As mentioned before wood decking can be prone to rot and termite damage, which can affect the appearance of your deck, so extra care is needed to keep it looking beautiful.

How does composite compare?

As composite is made from a blend of wood fibres and plastic, its appearance doesn’t fade over time. Also available in multiple shades and textures, you can use composite to build the garden oasis of your dreams.

The only downside here is that its wood-effect graining can never compare to the real thing. This being said, many manufacturers have worked hard to create similar patterns that can fool the eye to some extent. Ultimately, the appearance of your deck will come down to preference, so your choice will depend on your individual style.

Composite or wood decking: is there a winner?

Choosing between wood vs composite decking all comes down to individual preference. If you’re after a long-lasting, low-maintenance feature for your garden you might be more suited to composite decking.

But if your priority is a cheaper more natural-looking product, wood decking might be the way to go and especially if you’re someone who doesn’t mind spending a bit of time tending to your decking. Either way, remember to have fun with it, and your garden deck will become the envy of your street in no time!

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