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?
For a guide on the main benefits and advantages of composite decking compared to wood you can visit our benefits and advantages page.
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, splinters, cracking, fading and even crumbling leading to structural failure.
Below our expert look at the key factors upon purchasing and time when comparing wooden decking with composite decking.
All decking needs maintaining. Mother nature’s elements including the Sun are very powerful, enough to break atoms apart. The biggest question is how much maintenance is really needed when comparing wood and composite decking.
Wood needs 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 decking is known as the smart choice for any new decking project. A key reason is the cost savings in both time and money to maintain your composite decking. This will depend on which generation of composite decking you choose, and the amount of time required to maintain your composite decking every year. First-generation composite decking simply requires a soft brush with hot soapy water approximately 3-4 times a year. Second generation requires similar maintenance twice a year which of course saves time and money.
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 spending a little extra and choosing a high-end quality composite decking board that not only offers strength & durability it 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 strength and durability, in all honesty, is good with a minimum 34mpa. In softwood laymen terms it will take the weight of 2 average family cars per square inch before it fails. However, over the years if not regularly maintained and treated this changes due to constant attack from Mother nature shortening its life span and weakening the boards structure (even more so when purchasing softwood with knots in).
Ultra-Decking’s home choice range of composite decking also offers the strength of 34mpa. It is important that you 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 maintaining with a soft brush and a regular hose down 3-4 times a year. Assuming this is performed you will experience no structural strength problems with either a hollow or solid composite decking board.
A big factor when choosing you new decking area is of course costs.
Softwood if driven on price and seen as the lowest cost option when purchasing your decking area.
To combat this, Ultra Decking have introduced their new and improved Home Choice range. The new Home Choice range offers all the same high quality and strength for residential decking projects and meets timber wood decking costs. Customers are now able to make the smart choice and opt for a quality composite decking solution to suit their home decking needs for decades to come
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 either crumbled, cracked, warped or split.
Both composite and timber woods are a good environmental choice. Most wood that comes into the UK and Europe is from sustainable forests. Composite decking is even greener being manufactured using recycled plastics and wood. This has a huge impact helping to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, is better for our environment and helps to reduce landfill waste.
The authentic natural wood look is extremely important to a lot of customers.
For obvious reasons, you can’t get a more authentic wood look than using actual wood.
A lot of customer feedback on the internet or even speaking to friends on occasion is that composite decking lacks that natural authentic wood look, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The photo images of Ultra Decking’s entire range can be viewed on their website clearly showing a quality natural wood look.
Months, even years of focussed research and development has gone in to producing our range of composite decking boards with a natural beauty and finish which is indistinguishable from wood.
Ultra-Decking’s composite decking range is the intelligent and smart choice for discerning customers. We would challenge any customer to see the difference on Ultra Decking’s Signature or Premier collection as all customers who have purchased are simply blown away with the quality, finish and natural beauty of the boards we offer.
This is another highly researched and considered point. Customers are often concerned about slippy boards, especially if they have children or pets.
Wood decking is extremely slippy and hazardous, in the main due to the growth of algae and moss which needs to be regularly treated to keep under control. This costs time and money.
Composite decking does not suffer the annoying defect of being slippy, mainly due to the high grade and quality of the raw materials used even when the boards are wet. Please note: Although we describe our composite decking boards as “slip resistant”, it goes without saying with any decking solution, if the surface has oil, slippery products, extreme excess of water or ice on the decking boards they still become slippy.
Colour fading is another common question asked and researched. Here at Ultra-Decking we like to be open, honest and transparent with our customers. Most man-made engineered products will suffer from UV fading from the sun. The sun is very strong and powerful and can easily break down colours at an atomic level. First generation composite decking comes with a with wood fibre surface and will experience a weathering process or UV fade during the first 3 to 6 months of its service life and then stabalise. The rate of fade in the first 6 months is on average a colour reduction of 30-40%. The fade rate will stabalise after this period and continue at a much slower rate. We do advice customer after an estimated 6-8 years you may want to bring the colour back to life or even change the colour with the changes of in fashion styles, who knows 6-8 years is a long time.
Second generation composite decking will lighten slightly during its 25-year service life but is very minimal in comparison to the UV fade for first generation decking boards that means the colour choice you install today will be the same colour you will have in 25 years.
One key factor to keep in your mind is the quality of the composite decking you purchase. This really does make a huge difference. Some fading will occur over the service life of your new composite decking. Key considerations to minimise UV fading is the quality of the raw materials and the manufacturing processes used to produce the composite decking boards.
Composite decking has now taken centre stage for the new garden decking project, you only need to watch any of the garden shows and you will know that after 5 years of wood upkeep, people are switching to Composite Decking due to it’s too time consuming and a hazard trap after 8 years as its splinting or the structural strength has failed with their foot going through it.
The below table identifies the time and cost saving benefits including the advantages of composite decking over regular wood decking. In addition, the table also highlights the key differences between first- and second-generation composite decking with its added capped or shielded decking boards to help you easily identify which type of board is best suited to your new decking project.
Cost of composite decking versus the cost of wood decking: On average a wood deck will cost anywhere from £16 to £30 per sqm plus installation. An average 20 sqm installation will cost £600.
A good rule of thumb, the cheaper the wood the more maintenance, time and shorter its life span will be. Composite decking will cost between £25 to £80 per sqm and upwards depending on the quality, design and core strength. For a residential composite decking project, a square or circle hollow core will be more than suitable. For commercial composite decking projects these will require a circle or solid core design depending on the foot fall and increased weight. Both commercial and residential decking installations should not charge any more than £600 for an average area of 20 sqm. Please note this cost for installation does not include the supply of materials for the decking sub-structure or joist installation.