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Composite Decking Vs Wood: Which One Should You Choose?

23 February 2024
Cosy composite decking garden Cosy composite decking garden

 

Decking can totally transform your outdoor space, creating a sanctuary to relax in and a place to entertain friends and family. Ultimately, you want something that is both beautiful and durable – but with both wooden and composite decking to choose from, you might be wondering which one is better-suited to your home and lifestyle. To help you decide, we weigh up the pros and cons of each.

 

What we'll cover:

Composite VS Wood Decking: Quick Overview

Both composite and wood decking will refresh and enhance your garden. While composite decking comes in a range of finishes and colours, wooden decking can be stained to improve or maintain its colour. 


The big advantage of composite over wood is that it tends to have a longer lifespan. On average, composite decking can last over 20 years while wooden decking lasts around 10-15 years (subject to maintenance). 


Out of the two, composite decking is lower maintenance because it doesn’t need staining, painting or sealing like wooden decking does. And its weather resistant too, whereas wooden decking tends to absorb moisture which makes it prone to issues like rotting, staining, warping and mould. 


Composite decking is generally more expensive to buy compared to wooden decking, but many homeowners consider it better value for money because it lasts longer and doesn’t require as many products to keep it looking good.


When looking at all the pros and cons, which we explore in more detail below, it’s clear that composite has several advantages over wood as a choice of material for decking and is worth paying a bit more for.     

 

Composite Decking: The Pros

Low maintenance: One of the key benefits of composite decking is that it’s easy to clean and maintain. It only needs to be washed once or twice a year with regular household products and it doesn’t need painting or sealing. For more details, take a look at our guide, How to Clean Composite Decking: Step by Step.


Eco-friendly: Composite can be an eco-friendly option because the boards are made from recycled materials and minimise waste in their production. You also don’t need to maintain them with products containing potentially harmful chemicals.


Long lasting: Composite decking is structurally secure and resistant to fading, chipping, warping, rotting, mould, scratches and damage. 


Consistent boards: Composite decking boards are manufactured, so they aren’t prone to natural imperfections that wooden decking might have. This makes the boards easier to install, and gives you an attractive finish. 


Anti-slip: Composite decking is designed to be anti-slip. It doesn’t hold moisture and with the correct installation, the water will drain off easily. 

 

Composite Decking: The Cons

Higher material cost: Some people are put off by the higher upfront costs of composite decking but, as mentioned previously, it can be better value than wood. That said, your decision may be swayed by how long you plan to stay in your property and how much time you have for maintenance. 


Heat retention: When exposed to the sun, like all decking, it can retain heat. That doesn’t need to be a barrier though, since you can cover it with an umbrella or choose a lighter colour which is less likely to absorb heat. 


Energy intensive: Producing composite decking boards might be energy-intensive than manufacturing wooden ones. However, this can be offset with the use of recycled materials, and the fact that it's long lasting, and it doesn't need harmful chemicals to clean and maintain it.

Wood Decking: The Pros

Natural looking aesthetic: Timber decking looks natural and provides a welcoming outdoor space that complements your plants and trees. 


Lower upfront cost: Wooden decking has a lower upfront cost, though bear in mind that you will have to buy products like paints and sealants regularly to upkeep it. 


Eco-friendly: Wooden decking can be environmentally friendly if the material is from a sustainable source and the manufacturer supports sustainable practices. 


Design flexibility: Timber is easy to cut and shape, so you can create a decked area in any space.

Wood Decking: The Cons

High maintenance: Wooden decking requires regular maintenance like cleaning and sealing to protect it against rotting, decay and issues like mould. 


Warping and fading: Because wood absorbs moisture, timber decking is more likely to warp or split, especially in cold climates. It’s also more likely to fade and discolour because it doesn’t have a protective layer, which can reduce its aesthetic appeal. 


Shorter life span: On average, wooden decking lasts around 10-15 years which isn’t as long as alternative decking options.


Fire risk and flammable: Wooden decking has a higher fire risk and the products used to maintain it can be flammable too. 


Long term expenses: The costs to maintain wooden decking can pile up over the years and it may not be affordable to continue repairing it. 

 

Summary: Comparing the Pros and Cons

Wood or composite decking has many advantages for homeowners, so it’s important that you weigh up both options before coming to a decision. For example, composite decking may be better for your forever home and if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors. 


While wooden decking can be environmentally friendly if the wood is from a sustainable source, it can lead to deforestation if the manufacturer doesn’t have sustainable supply chains. Bear in mind too that the products used for upkeep can also cause harm to local plants and wildlife. Composite decking can be more energy-intensive to produce but tends to be made from recycled materials and is longer lasting.


Although wood has an attractive natural grain pattern, composite decking can be embossed with one and it closely resembles real wood. 


Weighing up the pros and cons of both composite decking vs wood – composite decking is a better option if you are looking for a hassle-free, long-lasting, and durable option.  


Click here to view our complete composite decking range.

 

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