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Wood Vs Composite Decking

Composite decking has now taken centre stage for any new garden decking project. You only need to watch any home garden show aired on National Television to understand the features, advantages and cost benefits of composite decking compared to wood decking.

If you’re currently in the market for a new deck, one of the main questions you may be asking yourself is, should I purchase wood or composite decking?

You can visit our benefits and advantages page for a guide on the main benefits and advantages of composite decking compared to wood.

Wood decking is fast becoming a thing of the past, mainly due to the high maintenance costs of regular wood decking upkeep year on year costing over its short life span. Regular wood decking suffers from warping, splintering, cracking, fading and even crumbling leading to structural failure.

Below is an expert look at the key factors upon purchase and time when comparing wooden decking with composite decking.

1Maintenance

All decking needs maintenance. Mother nature’s elements, including the Sun, are powerful enough to break atoms apart. The biggest question is how much maintenance is needed when comparing wood and composite decking.

Wood

Wood requires a lot of maintenance and specialist chemical treatment to stop it from warping, cracking, splinting and rotting. The build-up of mould, moss, algae and UV fading also needs to be considered. In short, a high degree of labour and time is required to maintain your wood decking every season during its short service life. Of course, as with most decking products, the amount of work required to maintain your wood deck every year will depend on the quality you purchase.

Composite

To begin with, composite decks are almost maintenance-free. They generally don’t require refinishing, the use of sealant, or staining. However, they need to be cleaned once a month with a soapy water mix and a low-power washer or soft bristle brush.

Composite decks are manufactured with stain-resistant, long-lasting materials that can withstand the elements as well as natural wear and tear for up to three decades. Unlike traditional wood decking, composite decking will not splinter, decay, or become prone to pest damage.

Furthermore, most composite decks have UV protection built-in, so they won’t degrade, fade or bleach as much as natural wood does over time

2Durability

Installing a new composite deck is a big investment for many homeowners. Performing due diligence and research will help you get this right the first time around. Friends and family will be spending considerable time almost all year-round socialising and relaxing on your new composite deck; therefore, it is a great idea to spend a little extra and choose a high-end quality composite decking boards that not only offers strength & durability but has the beauty and appeal of real wood without the drawbacks of having to maintain your decking area every year. 

Choose experienced installers to ensure your new deck has been correctly fitted. This will give you peace of mind that your new composite decking will provide you with decades of service and will add value to your property. Outdoor alfresco living is high on the wish list for many savvy home buyers when considering their purchase.

Wood

Wood strength and durability, in all honesty, is good with a minimum of 34 mpa. In layman’s terms, it will take the weight of 2 average family cars per square inch before it fails. However, if not regularly maintained and treated, wood will become susceptible to pest infestation, mould growth, weather damage, splitting, and splintering. These changes are due to constant attacks from Mother nature, shortening its life span and weakening the board’s structure (even more so when purchasing softwood with knots in).

Composite

Ultra Decking’s home choice range of composite decking also offers strength of 34 mpa. You must understand the different board strengths to help you make an informed choice on the type of composite decking best suited to your project. Please review our page on composite decking board strengths to learn more.

Composite decking doesn’t require anywhere near the same maintenance and upkeep of regular wood. However, it does require some maintenance with a soft brush and a regular hose down 4-6 times a year. Assuming this is performed, you will experience no structural strength problems with either a hollow or solid composite decking board.

3Cost

When choosing your new decking area, a big factor is, of course, costs. Below we go in more detail about costs.

Wood

Softwood is driven by price and is seen as the lowest cost option for purchase in your decking area.

To combat this, Ultra Decking has introduced their new and improved Home Choice range. The new Home Choice range offers the same high quality and strength for residential decking projects and matches timber wood decking costs. Customers can now make the smart choice and opt for quality composite decking solutions to suit their home decking needs for decades to come.

Composite

Composite decking prices are higher due to the raw materials used during the manufacturing process. The cost savings will come in time and money compared to the regular yearly costs for staining, sealing and painting or even replacing wood that has crumbled, cracked, warped or split.

4Environmental Impact

Both composite and timber wood are good environmental choices. Most wood that comes into the UK and Europe is from sustainable forests.

Composite decking is even greener because it is manufactured using recycled plastics and wood. This has a huge impact as it helps to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and is better for our environment. Furthermore, it also reduces landfill waste.

5Authenticity

The authentic natural wood look is extremely important to a lot of customers.

Wood

For obvious reasons, you can’t get a more authentic wood look than using actual wood.

Composite

Many customers online believe that composite decking has some authentic natural wood looks. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The photo images of Ultra Decking’s entire range can be viewed clearly on their website, showing a quality natural wood look.

Many years of dedicated research and development have gone into manufacturing our range of composite decking boards resulting in a natural beauty and finish that is indistinguishable from wood.

Ultra Decking composite decking range is an intelligent and smart choice for discerning customers. We would challenge any customer to see the difference in Ultra Decking’s Signature or Premier collection as all customers who have purchased our products are simply blown away by the quality, finish and natural beauty of the boards we offer.

6Slip Resistant

This is another important feature. Customers are often concerned about slippery boards, especially if they have children or pets.

Wood

Wood decking is extremely slippery and hazardous. This is mainly due to the growth of algae and moss, which needs to be regularly treated to stay under control. These treatments can cost time and money.

Composite

Composite decking is highly slip-resistant. Even when the boards are wet, Composite decking does not have the annoying defect of being slippery, mainly due to the high grade and quality of the raw materials used. 

Please note: Although we describe our composite decking boards as “slip-resistant,” it goes without saying that with any decking solution if the surface has oil, slippery products, and excessive water or ice on the decking boards, they will still become slippery.

7Fading

Colour fading is another important feature usually researched and commonly asked about. Have you ever noticed that your decking is not as vibrant as it used to be? Or perhaps you noticed that some parts of the deck are different from the others. It is because of the colour fading, which can be caused by various reasons.

If you replace your wooden decks with composites, you will see that the colour will be a similar base colour after many years. Although this is subject to weather conditions and UV saturation. The coating of these materials also protects them from weather damage, which is the usual cause of fading.

 

8Guide To Level Of Maintenance Compared

If you have ever installed wooden decking you will know that after 5 years of use your new decking project will start to need regular maintenance, improvement or even replacing depending on type of wood. Due to these reasons homeowners will switch to Composite Decking because wood deck maintenance is too time-consuming and costly. Another reason is that wood decking is a hazard trap after 5-8 years as its splinting or the structural strength will fail to the extent that accidents could occur.

The table below identifies the time and cost-saving benefits of composite decking over regular wood decking. Furthermore, the table also highlights the key differences between first- and second-generation composite decking alongside its added capped or shielded decking boards to help you easily identify which type of board is best suited to your new decking project.

 

table for ultra decking

9Cost Of Maintenance Compared

Purchasing Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) decking is a higher upfront investment when compared to the cost of softwood timber decking solutions. However, during the lifespan of WPC composite decking, when compared to the cost of ongoing maintenance and yearly upkeep of painting and staining, choosing a composite decking solution is a no-brainer since a composite deck is not only more economical, it saves a lot more time due to the minimal maintenance required.

The overall life span of composite decking can reach beyond 35 years if maintained correctly; most suppliers and manufacturers offer a 10-25 year warranty depending on which generation of composite decking and its core profile. Below we will look at like like the cost of generations, so you can early work out the costs and which decking solution is best for your needs; these costs have been working out on an average deck installation of 25 square metres.

Maintenance Costs

Maintenance cost

As you can see from the table above, composite decking is not only more intelligent, durable and ultra-low maintenance with minimal colour change in the first generation and near to none in the second generation, but it also is hugely more cost-effective throughout its life span and most importantly saves time so you can enjoy your ultra-low maintenance decking & garden.

Now, if we are being realistic, some people may be thinking I’ll just do little or no maintenance on my softwood wood decking and save the costs that way; let’s review this option below.

10Cost Compared After Installation

Maintenance cost

Composite Decking has a higher upfront cost; however, as you can see, the time and cost of maintaining a wood deck over the years can be very time-consuming and costly. Should you decide not to maintain your wood deck, it will very quickly become a hazard and, well, rather ugly due to discolouring, cracks, rot and so on. If selling your property, estate agents and experts advise replacing an old wood deck as this will have a detrimental effect on the value of your property.

After approximately 5 years, a wood deck will require replacement with another wood deck, a composite deck or another alternative, further increasing your costs for materials and labour.

Most property experts and discerning customers will opt for a wood plastic composite (WPC) deck given its long life span, low or no maintenance, saving time and money, and will continue to look great for many years to come.

Studies have shown that the UK general public has embraced outdoor alfresco living, spending less time maintaining their gardens and decks to enjoying more leisure time with their friends and families in the great outdoors. A beautiful and long-lasting composite deck requiring minimal maintenance helps them to do just.

11Tips to save on Composite Decking upfront costs.

  • Composite decking is just as easy to fit as wooden decking, so you could fit this yourself to save cost.
  • If you do choose to hire a professional, consider getting it fitted in the off-peak season for a possible discounted rate.
  • When choosing a design, our expert advice would be to choose a straight board design and stairs instead of a curved or twist design to save the cost of additional wastage.
  • If a different design is what you’re after, use a mix and match on different colour boards or a picture frame using L corners or boards; this way, low wastage, style up without upping the overall cost.
  • Know your Composite Decking and pick the right solution for you.
labour

LABOUR

Labour and installation account for nearly two-thirds of total costs. We can help you find an installer, or you can do it yourself.

material

MATERIALS

Raw materials could include a substructure, decking, railing, hardware and add-ons. And that’s only a portion of the total cost of a composite deck.

size

SIZE

Size and shape make a big difference. Both help determine the materials and labour costs of your composite deck.

Quick Summary

Cost of composite decking versus the cost of wood decking:

Due to the huge price rises Ultra Decking have reinvestigated this page. We have spoke to 100s of tradesman, fitters and landscape gardeners to find out the in updated price for 2022 due to the sharp increases in material,  labour, not to mention fuel too and looked through many sites to check the current market prices.

In 2022 composite decking is now the chosen solution for outdoor decking projects both commercial and domestic, with the sharp rises in timber prices, we have seen the gap in costs become even closer than ever before. We also seen a huge rise in new business selling composite materials and advise customer to ensure the correct checks are taken on both materials & fitters, due to the market increase as many new start ups pop up. Looking at review and images of completed projects is a good place to start.

On average, a wood deck will cost anywhere from £24.02 per sqm plus installation. An average 20 sqm installation will cost £1400.

A good rule of thumb is that the cheaper the wood, the more maintenance time and the shorter its lifespan will be. Composite decking will cost between £33 to £120 per sqm and upwards depending on the quality, design and core strength. For a residential composite decking project, a square or circle hollow core would be more than suitable. Commercial composite decking projects will require a circle or solid core design depending on footfall and increased weight. Commercial and residential decking installations should cost more than £1200-£1600 for an average area of 20 sqm.

Please note: This cost for installation does not include the supply of materials for the decking substructure or joist installation.

 

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