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Decking Guide

Are you thinking about building a deck in your garden ahead of the summer months? Aside from where and how you’re going to lay your deck, you’re probably considering how you’ll want your deck to look.

The decking boards are one of the last elements that you’ll fix to make your deck, but they make all the difference in how your deck looks and performs. Before starting your decking project, you need to decide which style of deck boards you’re going to use.

Thankfully, you’ve got a variety of options to pick between when it comes to choosing the right decking boards for your next project. Within this decking guide, we aim to help you to get to grips with the options available to you so that you can find the perfect fit for your outdoor space.

decking

Which is the best decking material?

If you’re wondering which is the best decking material to choose for your decking project, there really is no right or wrong answer. It all comes down to a number of factors:

Deck use and location

decking around hot tub

Where you intend to put your deck and how it will be used will impact the long-term wear and tear of the decking boards. With more foot traffic or exposure to moisture comes the need for a more durable material and regular maintenance.

Consider this when building a deck for garden furniture, hot tubs or even outside of your patio door. Of course, if your deck is going to be used in a commercial or public setting, it’s really important to get the decking board material right to save on costs in the long run.

How much do you want to spend?

Budget is a key player when it comes to choosing a decking board material. We have decks to suit a range of budgets, from top of the range timbers through to more cost-effective options.

Commitment to maintenance

jet washing decking

All decking requires some sort of maintenance to keep it looking great and structurally durable for years to come. Without maintenance, you could end up with all sorts of problems on your hands. Some decks can become damaged due to rot or even slippery when not taken care of properly, meaning that decking boards or even the entire deck has to be replaced.

You can avoid these issues and prolong the lifespan of your deck by giving it some TLC from time to time. From simply cleaning with a hose or jet wash and sweeping away the leaves to painting, treating and even sanding down the deck. It’s important to note that some decking board materials require more maintenance than others.

How much time, commitment or inclination you have to take care of your deck should be considered when choosing your options.

Your landscape design

You should choose a decking board style that complements your outdoor space. You may already have features such as a summer house or garage that has been cladded with a particular timber, or even paving, fencing or a patch of artificial grass that you wish to offset with a deck. Decking offers a great opportunity to complement your exterior design.

What are the different types of decking material?

The two most popular and widely used styles of decking boards are traditional wooden (timber) and composite. Timber decking boards are derived from softwood or hardwood timbers. Composite decking boards are made from Wood Plastic Composite (WPC).

Softwood decking vs hardwood decking

timber stack

Timber is categorised as a softwood or a hardwood based on the species of tree from which it’s derived. Hardwoods come from deciduous trees that lose their leaves on a yearly basis, whilst softwood timber is derived from evergreen trees, such as conifers.

Different trees grow at different rates. Generally, deciduous trees that produce hardwood are grown at a much slower rate than evergreens. This slower growth produces timber that is denser and has tighter growth rings.

Both hardwoods and softwoods make great decking board materials because of their structural strength. However, because hardwoods are far denser, they have greater resilience and long term durability. Whilst still structurally strong, softwoods are lighter and more flexible. So what does this mean when it comes to decking?

What’s the difference in maintenance requirements?

Because softwoods aren’t as dense, they need a little more TLC. More regular treatment and maintenance will be required with a softwood timber deck. Sweeping and cleaning the deck should happen once every few months, and maybe even more regularly if your deck is positioned in the shade or under a tree that drops vegetation. Treating with timber preserves or oils is essential; how regularly this is required will depend on your choice of softwood. Some benefit from treatment once every 3-4 years, whilst others will need to be treated every year.

Just because softwood timber decking boards need more time and attention, that’s not to say that hardwood decking doesn’t require maintenance. Hardwood timbers still need to be taken care of, to keep them looking in tip-top condition, but they are a little more hard-wearing than softwoods. The most important thing is to keep the deck clean – sweeping away debris and hosing down from time to time will keep your deck looking spick and span. Occasional treatment of hardwood decks is advised – once every 3-4 years is more than adequate.

Whether you opt for a softwood or hardwood timber, treatment and maintenance will also slow down the change in timber colour over time. Naturally, many timbers will weather to a sliver grey. Although many people actually prefer timber this colour, if you want to avoid this from happening, don’t forget to coat your decking boards in oil and preservers regularly.

Which timber decking lasts longer?

In terms of life span, hardwood decking takes the lead. The slow growth, densely-packed growth rings and closer grain means that hardwood timber is more robust and resilient over time. A well-maintained softwood timber deck can last up to 10 years plus, whilst hardwood decking has a longer lifespan of up to 25 years. These times are based on ideal conditions and the deck being looked after correctly.

And for the cost?

Hardwood is more expensive than softwood, and for good reason. The longer growth period means that hardwood is less readily available than softwood. Also, you’re paying for superior strength and a timber that lasts much longer when you opt for hardwood.

Prices for softwood timber decking boards start at around £8 for a 3 metre board, whilst hardwood decking boards start at a price of around £21 for a 3 metre board.

What are my softwood decking options?

Softwood decking can be derived from a range of softwood tree species, therefore there are a selection of decking styles and options available:

Pressure-treated softwood decking:

This is one of the most popular decking options and most widely used domestically and commercially.

Softwood Decking

  • Ideal for lower budgets
  • A great all-rounder
  • A warm, honey brown colour
  • Weathers to a silver-grey
  • Available in smooth or readed finish
  • Maintenance is a must: sweep, clean and treat once a year.

 

Siberian Larch Decking:

Slow-grown and naturally very durable, this stylish and modern decking board works well with Siberian larch cladding.

Siberian larch decking

  • Kiln-dried to maximise natural strength
  • Smooth and modern finish
  • Looks great in traditional and contemporary settings
  • Reddish-brown in colour
  • Weathers to grey
  • Maintenance is must: sweep, clean and treat once a year.

 

Western Red Cedar Decking:

Rich in colour and durable due to its natural oils, red cedar is ideal if you’re looking for a luxury softwood timber deck.

cedar decking

  • Provides a clean and flush finish
  • Warm brown and orange colours
  • Weathers to silver-grey
  • Requires the least amount of maintenance of the softwood options
  • Sweep and clean regularly, treat once every 3 years

 

What are my hardwood decking options?

Hardwood decking is great if you’re going for minimal maintenance and something long-lasting. This is also a super decking choice for areas where the deck is likely to be exposed to high moisture content over a long period of time, such as shaded spots or around hot tubs and swimming pools.

Balau Decking:

Balau is very similar to Western Red Cedar Softwood decking in appearance, but it has a much higher density and has a longer lifespan.

Balau Decking

  • Ideal for areas of heavy foot traffic
  • Modern look
  • Smooth in texture
  • Yellow, brown and red tones
  • Weathers to silver grey
  • Requires little maintenance asides from cleaning

 

Iroko Decking:

Iroko is a tropical hardwood that is a great alternative to teak. Its interlocking grain gives it great strength and durability.

Wooden flooring beside the pool

  • Natural oils make this a highly durable timber
  • Modern look
  • Great if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious
  • Bright brown, orange and yellow tones
  • Requires little maintenance aside from cleaning

Composite decking

What is composite decking?

trex decking

Composite decking is the man-made alternative to timber decking. Whilst it has a natural appearance and looks like real timber, it’s actually made from a blend of recycled plastic and real wood fibres. It has a waterproof, smooth finish and is available in a variety of colours and tones.

What maintenance does composite decking require?

If you’re looking for a decking board that requires minimal maintenance, then composite decking will be right up your street! Compared to timber decking, it’s the easiest and most hassle-free to maintain. It doesn’t need to be treated and the colour and tones shouldn’t change over time. Occasional sweeping and the odd wash down with some soapy water and hose will do the trick. This is to merely keep your decking looking clean and tidy.

How long does composite decking last?

Composite decking is highly resistant to rot and decay, giving it a longer lifespan than some timber decking boards. Without damage or trauma, you should expect your composite deck to last at least 50 years. As a decking material that is fairly resistant to stains and scratches, composite is a popular option in both domestic and commercial settings and ideal if you have pets, a young family or are expecting heavy foot traffic.

What are my composite decking options?

gravel path trex

Trex is one of the most popular composite decking brands. It has become a firm favourite here at Equestrian Fencing, amongst our trade and domestic customers alike.

We stock the Trex Transcend range, which includes grooved deck boards, solid deck boards and fascia boards. The colour choice in this range is superb, varying from natural wooden tones through to grey decking boards.

Whilst you should expect to pay a higher price for these decking boards, they really are built last and are a worthwhile investment.

To sum it up

The top choices for long-lasting decking

If you’re looking for durability and a deck that is going to last for the next 25 years, your best options are a hardwood deck or a composite deck. Don’t forget that these decking boards will still need some care from time to time. You can achieve a long-lasting softwood deck if you take care of it regularly, and avoid exposure to overly moist conditions, but it’s to be expected that softwood decks are more likely to last around 10 years plus.

Decking boards on a budget

Softwood decking boards are cheaper than hardwood or composite decking boards. Pressure-treated softwood decking boards are the most popular options for those on a smaller budget.

The decking to your cladding

cladding and decking

Siberian Larch decking and cladding go really well together, as does Western Red Cedar decking and Cedar cladding.

A deck for hot tubs and swimming pools

Hardwood decking is the most suitable decking choice if you are looking to create a deck around your swimming pool or under your hot tub because they will be able to withstand exposure to moisture, far more than a softwood can.

Where can I buy decking boards?

If you’re looking to buy decking boards, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Equestrian Fencing, our decking range caters for the needs and wants of a range of decking projects.

Whether you are just about to take on your first DIY decking project or are a tradesperson looking for decking material for your next job, we have everything you’ll need at fantastic prices.

Our decking is available for purchase online or directly from our timber centre just outside of Southampton. If you have any questions, our team of timber experts are on hand to help.

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