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Timber Vs Composite Decking

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When comparing decking options there are a lot of things to take into consideration. The most popular options in the UK are composite decking or timber decking. Although budget is generally the main decision factor, there are other things you should take the time to consider. This is an overview of the difference in Timber and Composite Decking and the effect this has on deciding which type of decking is right for you.

Different types of decking boards

There are different types of both composite and timber decking boards with varying qualities that you should take into consideration. Composite decking is available in both solid and hollow varieties and timber is available in both softwood and hardwood.

Softwood or hardwood?

Softwood and hardwood refer to the type of tree the wood is from and not actually to the board density. Softwoods are from evergreen trees that keep their leaves all year whereas hardwood is from deciduous trees that lose their leaves every year. Typically hardwood boards are denser than softwood boards however this isn’t always the case. The differences between these 2 options can affect the strength, durability and look of the boards. Which one is stronger?

Hollow or solid composite decking?

Similar to the above, the differences between hollow and solid composite decking can affect the strength, durability and look of the boards. However, there are other issues to also consider. Hollow boards, while slightly cheaper, are called hollow boards because they are, well, hollow. This means that water from rain and weathering will collect and remain within the hollow centre of the boards. This water will then continually freeze and thaw during the winter which will expand and contract the boards at a much faster rate. This will lead very quickly to splitting and warping of the boards, reducing durability. Solid boards however, do not have this issue, and a well maintained solid board composite decking area has the potential to outlast it’s guarantee.

Get in contact with one of our composite experts for more information.

Life span & maintenance

The life span and the maintenance go hand in hand. The better you maintain your decking the long it will last. This is true for both timber and composite decking however the levels of required maintenance vary.

Timber: for timber decking, you are regularly required to sand down and stain the decking, which can be a lot of work. This can have its benefits though as any form of damage or rot can be simply sanded down or a simple section removed and replaced. This can be very time consuming however and a continuous cost throughout it’s lifespan.

Composite: with composite decking, a lot less maintenance is required and when it is, it’s much less strenuous. A regular jet wash or scrub down with warm soapy water to remove any moss and dust is all composite decking needs. Although composite decking is not designed to be anti-scratch, some composite decking (such as our Victoria and Vintage composite decking boards) can also be lightly sanded to help remove any furniture marks or scratches. Co-extruded Composite decking boards cannot be sanded down, as they have a layer of skin covering the surface for design, so this is certainly something you should look into before purchasing.


Typically softwood decking is the cheapest option, with hardwood being around the same price as most mid-range composite options. However, for the timber you will almost certainly need purchase stains and oils to ensure it looks it’s best for longer and could very likely require more cost over its lifetime for maintenance. These aren’t necessary for composite decking. Hollow boards can also be a cheaper option for composite decking, but this brings along the issues mentioned above regarding warping and splitting. Another option to save cost is to look at an m-board or bridged board composite design, such as our Victoria range, which boasts an entry level cost without the worry of water retention.

There are a lot of things to take into consideration when choosing which type of decking to purchase. This article should hopefully help to point you towards a few key points that you should look into.

LIFESPANLess than composite
Very long lasting
MAINTENANCEHight maintenance
 Low Maintenance
COST Slightly lower Can be more expensive


You may be interested in veiwing our article about THE VERSaTILTY OF COMPOSITE DECKING

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