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 board 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.

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. 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 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 stabilise. The rate of fade in the first 6 months is, on average, a colour reduction of 30-40%. The fade rate will stabilise after this period and continue at a much slower rate. We advise customers that after an estimated 6-8 years, if they like, they can bring the colour back to life or even change the colour with the changes in fashion styles. Who knows? 6-8 years is a long time.

The second-generation composite decking will lighten slightly during its 25-year service life, but this is very minimal compared to the UV fade for first-generation decking boards, meaning the colour choice you install today will be the same colour you will have in 25 years.

One key factor to keep in mind is the quality of the composite decking you purchase. This does make a huge difference. Some fading will occur over the service life of your new composite decking. Key considerations to minimise UV fading are 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 every new garden decking project. You only need to watch any of the garden shows. You will know that after 5 years of wood upkeep, people will switch to Composite Decking because wood deck maintenance is too time-consuming. Another reason is that wood decking is a hazard trap after 8 years as its splinting or the structural strength will fail to the extent that foot can go through it.

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.

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 fitters 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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