What is the Best Material to Use for an Outside Decking?
Choosing the best material for your outdoor decking can get a little tricky, especially for beginners or if planning to do it yourself (DIY). Many people have varying opinions when it comes to choosing the best. Most homeowners and builders prioritise cost and opt for lower-cost materials. Others want a beautiful aesthetic deck that can wow their guests. And many value quality and durability above all else. If you are a homeowner looking to build decking, what is the best material to use for outside decking? Consider cost, quality, and aesthetics and which one is the best among each criterion.
Cost of Materials and Maintenance
Building a decking is not exactly a cheap home improvement. Here in the UK, adding a medium-sized outside decking will cost you around £1500 to £2500 for materials alone. Even more, depending on the quality of 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 cost. There are several affordable options you can choose from. 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 decking.
While many consider softwoods as lower-quality timber, there are a few exceptions. Western Red Cedar and European Redwood are both softwoods but have the quality matching that of some of the best hardwoods. Other lower-quality softwoods can also be suitable outdoor decking materials with chemical treatment. Pine and Fir are some great softwood examples.
Aside from the initial price, you should also take into consideration the maintenance and upkeep costs. A cheap wooden decking area could work out more expensive during its service life compared to easy-to-maintain decking material. For instance, lower-quality softwoods require regular treatment, whereas hardwoods won’t require as much. Synthetic decking, such as vinyl and composites, is 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 the best material for outside decking is 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 timber often comes in reddish tones, hence the name. On the other hand, oak decking has a deep brown colour tone. While many wood varieties are weatherproof, most wood will turn to silver or grey unless stained or painted regularly or, in most instances, every year. If you don’t have a problem with the required annual maintenance, wood decking is your best choice.
However, if you want low-maintenance decking that is easy and quick to perform, synthetic decking is a suitable alternative, especially composites from Ultra Decking. Composite decking looks like real wood but requires no staining or sealing. Not only will you save money from maintenance, but you will have beautiful decking that will last 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 extra to get a longer-lasting, high-quality decking board. If you choose wooden decking, the best material in terms of quality is hardwoods, especially Ipe.
Ipe, or Brazilian walnut, is considered by many the king of wood decking. It is the hardest and densest among wood varieties. They also have high natural content, which makes them resistant to insects and moulds. They are also weatherproof, waterproof, and fire-resistant. Other examples of hardwoods are Oak, Teak, and Cumaru. Overall, hardwood decking is some of the most beautiful and durable deckings you can choose.
The downside with hardwood decking, however, is its cost. A hardwood decking, especially an Ipe one, will cost you at least three times more compared to traditional wood decking. 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 are composites cheaper, but they can also perform as well as most exotic hardwoods 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 have less 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 exotic hardwoods as the best wood decking material. For non-wood decking, composites are slightly better than vinyl due to their natural and wood-like appearance.