Choosing the best material for your outdoor composite decking can get a little tricky, especially for beginners and DIY-ers. Many people have varying opinions when it comes to choosing the best. Many homeowners and builders prioritize cost, opting for lower-priced materials. Others want a beautiful aesthetic that can wow guests. And many value quality and durability above all else.If you are a homeowner looking to build a deck, which are the best materials you can use? Consider cost, quality, and aesthetics and which one is the best among each criterion.
Cost of Materials and Maintenance
Building a deck is not exactly a cheap home improvement. In the UK, adding a medium-sized outside decking will cost you around £1000 to £2000, or more depending on the materials. For this reason, many homeowners want to save as much money as possible by choosing the cheapest materials.
Naturally, it doesn’t mean you have to compromise quality over the cost. There are several affordable options you can choose. For instance, many prefer wood not only because of the aesthetics but the low cost as well. The cheapest woods you could buy are softwoods. Despite what most people think, they make excellent outdoor decks.
While many consider softwoods as lower-quality lumber, there are a few exceptions. Western Red Cedar and European Redwood are both softwoods but have the quality matching that of some hardwoods. With chemical treatment, other lower-quality softwoods can also be suitable decking materials. Pine and Fir are some examples.
Aside from the initial price, you will also want to consider upkeep cost. A cheap wooden deck may end up more expensive than an easy-to-maintain decking. For instance, lower quality softwoods will require regular treatment, whereas hardwoods won’t need as much. Synthetic decks, such as vinyl and composites, are also low-maintenance. If you are on a budget, opting for a material that is low cost and low-maintenance is the best course of action.
Beauty and Aesthetics
Another factor that many homeowners consider when choosing a deck is the appearance. In this regard, many agree that nothing beats the timeless beauty of wood decking. With wood decking, you can pick a variety of shades and tones that will suit your preferences.
For instance, Redwood lumber often comes in reddish tones, hence the name. On the other hand, oak decking has a deep brownish shade. While many wood varieties are weatherproof, most wood will turn to silver or grey unless stained or painted. If you don’t bother the needed maintenance, wood decks are your best choices.
But if you don’t want to bother with maintenance, a synthetic deck will be a suitable alternative, especially composite decking. Composite decks look like real wood but require no staining or sealing. Not only will you save money from maintenance, but you will have a beautiful deck for decades.
Durability and Longevity
For many homeowners, durability and quality are the most crucial aspects when choosing decking materials. Some are willing to spend some extra if it would mean getting a longer-lasting, high-quality deck. If you choose a wooden deck, the best material in terms of quality are hardwoods, especially Ipe.
Ipe, or Brazilian walnut, is considered by many as the king of wood decking. It is the hardest and densest among wood varieties. They also have high natural content, which makes them resistant against insects and moulds. They are also weatherproof, waterproof, and fire-resistant. Other examples of hardwoods are Oak, Teak, and Cumaru. Overall, hardwood decks are some of the most beautiful and durable decks you can choose.
The downside with hardwood decking, however, is its cost. A hardwood deck, especially an Ipe one, will cost you at least three times more compared to traditional wood decks. Since they come from slow-growing trees, they are rarer and harder to produce. Due to their high density, they are also among the hardest to transport, saw, and install. They are not as DIY-friendly as other options.
Another alternative for high-quality materials is composite decking. Not only do composites are cheaper, but they can also perform as well as most hardwood decks, or even better. They are water-resistant, weatherproof, low-maintenance, and long-lasting. They are also easier to handle and install.
The Best Decking Material
Overall, the best decking materials depend on what you value the most. If you are on a budget or want to save money, softwoods such as Redwood, Larch, and Cedar are your best options. But if you prefer to save more money, you’ll want to choose a low-maintenance option, such as synthetic decking.
When it comes to aesthetics, nothing beats wood. Both softwoods and hardwoods come in various tones and shades according to your preference. However, do remember that they will need regular maintenance to maintain their colour. If you want something more permanent, you can go with non-wood decking, especially composites.
Lastly, if you value quality above else, hardwoods are your best bet. Many consider the best wood decking. For non-wood decking, composites are slightly better than vinyl due to their natural and wood-like appearance.