Timber Vs Composite Decking

Heritage Driftwood Builddeck Composite Decking Pub
Heritage Driftwood Builddeck Composite Decking Pub

When comparing decking options there are a lot of things to take into consideration. The most popular options in the UK are composite decking and timber decking. Although the budget is normally the main factor for this decision 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 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?

Similar to 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 have a section normally multiple cylinder or rectangular shapes out of the centre of the boards. This makes the boards lighter for transport and fitting. However, this can cause a stability issue and reduce durability. Solid boards however can be very heavy and increase transport costs.


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 if you take good care of it Timber decking can last a lifetime.

Composite: with composite decking less regular maintenance is necessary and it’s a lot less strenuous. A regular jet wash or wash down with warm soapy water is all composite decking needs. Although composite decking has rot-resistant properties meaning this is not an issue when it comes to scratches some composite decking can be lightly sanded to remove this while others can’t. This is something you should look into before purchasing.


Typically softwood decking is the cheapest option, with hardwood being around the same price as some composite options however for the timber you will need stains and oils to ensure it looks it best for longer and may require more spends over its lifetime for maintenance. These aren’t necessary for composite decking. Hollow boards are cheaper than solid composite due to having to produce more composite material.

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
COSTCheaper to buy
More expensive to buy


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