What type of decking should you choose - composite or natural wood?

what garden deckingDecking can transform a plain and impractical outdoor space into a welcoming, usable, and beautiful garden. It can give you an extra room outside your home.

Even in our unpredictable Scottish weather, a deck is something you can use all year round. You can enjoy barbecues and late-night drinks in summer. Fireworks and sparklers on crisp Autumn nights. And watching the snow fall down while cosied up in blankets next to an outdoor heater at Christmas.

If you’re at the start of your garden renovation, you may have discovered there are two main kinds of decking available:

 

Wooden decking

The traditional option. Decks made from wood enjoy the beautiful natural features of timber. Depending on the type of wood you choose, you can have stunning grain lines and colour variations. Requires some maintenance.

Composite decking

The modern option. Stylish and contemporary, composite is a mix of wood and plastic that is available in a choice of colours. Becoming more widely available and growing in popularity. Requires minimal maintenance.

But what’s right for you?

Both types of decking have their own benefits and specific drawbacks for you to consider before making a commitment.

This guide will help you make the right choice for you, your home, and your budget.

 

 

Wooden Decking

Natural Wooden Decking

Circular hardwood deck installed by Gardens Galore in Tibbermore

 

Material

Natural timber is available from several different species of tree. Softwood or hardwood options are available.

 

Environmental impact

All our timber is ethically sourced and certified. Find out more about our timber, where it’s from, and why it’s certified.

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Appearance

Wooden decking feels natural in a garden setting. Many people like the beauty, softness, and warmth of real wood. Timber decking can have colour variations due to the natural wood and knots.

 

Maintenance

Softwood decking is pressure treated. A gentle power wash and an application of decking oil every year will keep it looking good, and protect the wood from water ingress.

Hardwood decking requires an application of decking oil after installation. Annual applications will bring out the rich colour of the wood, keep it looking good and protect it from water ingress.

 

Children and pets

Wet timber can be slippery which presents a danger to children. Timber can stain but it is easily sanded down and sections can even be replaced. If you have children or pets, or will use your deck frequently for entertainment, you will need a hard-wearing timber. A durable hardwood, for example.

 

Lifespan

Well-maintained timber decking can last a lifetime. But you will need to look after your deck to ensure it continues to look great after years of enjoyment (and exposure to our wet climate). 

 

Cost

Softwood decking is the least expensive option to install but you will need to apply decking oil every year. So there's a small extra cost to factor into your budget.

Hardwood decking is more expensive. It will cost around the same as composite decking to install. You will also need to buy hardwood decking oil for initial and then annual treatments.

 

 

Composite Decking

composite garden decking

Composite decking installed by Gardens Galore in Crieff

 

Material

Our composite decking is made from a mix of wood and recycled plastic.

 

Environmental impact

Composite decking is made from wood fibres from sustainable sources, mixed with recycled plastic, so composite decking is kind to the environment.

 

Appearance

Composite decking is ideal for gardens with a more contemporary feel. It’s available in a range of colours and finishes, from charcoals and greys to more rustic finishes that resemble weathered wood. Clips and edging strips mean that there are no visible screwheads.

 

Maintenance

It’s very hard-wearing and low maintenance. Composite will not warp, splinter, split or rot. It’s fade-resistant and flame retardant. A brush or gentle wash will keep it looking good. Composite decking will keep the same look and colour for longer than timber decking which can change over time due to weather and usage.

 

Children and pets

Composite decking is pet and child-friendly. It is slip-resistant, stain-resistant, and scratch-resistant.

 

Lifespan

A manufacturer's warranty applies to the decking ranges that we supply.

 

Cost

Composite decking is the more expensive option to install. However, there are no ongoing maintenance costs and will last a long time.

 

 

Conclusion

When it comes to helping you choose a particular type of decking, "it depends" might not seem like a useful answer.

The right choice for your garden and family depends on:

  • your budget
  • how much time you can dedicate to maintenance
  • how long you would like your deck to last
  • the style you are trying to create

The answer isn’t always simple. And this is true for most aspects of your outdoor space, from paving to water features. But don’t worry, expert landscaping and decking advice are only a call or email away. Get in touch with our friendly team for advice and guidance.

We can provide you with a quotation for your preferred choice of decking if you have made your decision. Or we can talk you through several options so you can compare and make your decision based on that.

See more examples of our decking projects.

 

Decking Finishing Touches

Adding a balustrade to your decking area can change the dynamic of your garden design, helping you achieve the look you want. For example, use glass panels for a modern look or include an ornate handrail for something more traditional.

You can also introduce lighting to your deck for an extra special finishing touch; from subtle, toned lights to striking colours with motion effects for the 'wow' factor.

Contact us for more information about adding some finishing touches like these to your new deck.

decking with glass panels and lights

Hardwood decking with balustrades, glass panels and lights inset into steps by Gardens Galore in Crieff