How To Choose The Best Decking Material

Modern house with garden swimming pool and wooden deck

Decking has become a lot more popular over the past few years, as people come to realise just how much use they can really get out of their garden when they make it a little more liveable. This has also led to the exponential growth of different options out there. Not only are there more decking designs being used than ever, but we’re also using more varied materials, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Here, we’re going to look at some of the top materials used in decking, why you should consider them, and how to choose the best decking material.

Pressure Treated Lumber

Pressure-treated lumber is by far the most common material used in decking, fencing, and all kinds of outdoor projects.

This lumber, recognisable by its slightly green tint, represents the most broadly available and the most cost-effective option on the market.

It’s easy to find, easy to handle, and easy to put together if you feel like making your deck a DIY project instead of hiring a professional.

Modern house with garden swimming pool and wooden deck

However, the initial savings with PT lumber do come with significant drawbacks in that they’re not as long lasting or as hard-wearing as some of the other options there.

They have to be treated and resealed regularly, washed annually and stained or preserved every couple of years. They’re also more likely to break or break under pressure.

If you want to quickly install a deck on the Gold Coast or Brisbane for less, and you don’t mind showing it a little love and care more frequently than you might otherwise, then pressure treated lumber might be the best fit for you.

Benefits of Pressure Treated Lumber

  • Easy to find
  • Easy to handle
  • Easy to put together

Drawbacks of Pressure Treated Lumber

  • Not as long lasting as other options
  • Not as hard-wearing as other options
  • Require regular retreating & resealing
  • More likely to break under pressure

Natural Woods

For some people, there is simply no replacing the natural beauty of a real wood deck, whether it’s a redwood, cedar, or an exotic import like a tropical hardwood.

Depending on the rarity of the wood used, you should expect to pay much more for natural wood decking than any of the other options.

The gorgeous visual impact of natural wood isn’t the only benefit you get for your money, however.

Stained wooden deck often considered the best decking material

When treated and maintained effectively, they are incredibly resilient and are a practical, strong choice for all kinds of deck formats that other, lighter materials may be unable to handle.

Certain woods also have elements like tannins in them that keep them protected from mould and rot.

The price, however, is going to be the biggest barrier to many who might otherwise want to consider this option.

Furthermore, they require the most maintenance of all materials featured here. Annual power washing, finish coating every three-four years, wood preservative every two-three years, and applying stain when necessary are all required.

Benefits of Natural Wood

  • Amazing visual impact
  • Very resilient when maintained properly
  • Can protect against mould and rot

Drawbacks of Natural Wood

  • It’s a more expensive decking material
  • Requires more frequent maintenance

Composite Decking

To many, composites represent the happy middle-ground between PT lumber and natural woods.

It doesn’t have the natural aesthetic of redwood or cedar, but it is much more durable than PT lumber, not susceptible to rot, and much more resistant to warping and splitting.

Composite decking material

Composite is strong enough to support covered decking and more vertically designed implementations, as well.

It’s a mid-priced option, making it more expensive than PT lumber, but more affordable than natural woods.

“Not only are there more decking designs being used than ever, but we’re also using more varied materials, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.”

It doesn’t require as much maintenance, but it still requires some to prevent mould and mildew from growing on the boards.

Benefits of Composite Decking

  • More durable than Pressure Treated Lumber
  • Not susceptible to rot
  • More resistant to warping & splitting
  • Strong and durable
  • Mid-priced decking material
  • Low maintenance

Drawbacks of Composite Decking

  • Not as visually attractive as real wood

Plastic Decking Material

There are a few different types of plastic decking out there, with PVC, polyethylene, and plastic lumber being most popular of all.

Compared to natural wood, these are relatively inexpensive, but they can still be more expensive than PT lumber or composites.

The main benefit of plastics is that they’re durable, bringing no risks of rot or decay and no need for treatment, cutting down the time spent on maintenance.

Plastic decking
Image source: Paving Superstore

If you want quick, no-fuss decking, plastics could work for you.

They’re also incredibly light, so installing it yourself could be much easier.

However, plastic is an acquired taste, aesthetically, and if you’re looking for a natural wood look, even plastic lumber doesn’t really match it.

Furthermore, that lightness can be as much of a drawback, as it can make covered decks impractical since the plastic can’t support the weight, and it may sag over time.

Benefits of Plastic Decking

  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Very durable
  • No risk of rot or decay
  • Very low maintenance
  • Very light material

Drawbacks of Plastic Decking

  • Not as visually appealing
  • Not as strong to support weight
  • May sag over time

Which decking material is right for you?

As we’ve shown, each decking material featured here is the right choice for someone.

It all depends on what your priorities are.

Are you looking for a more economic answer, something with real natural beauty, or something more resilient and long-lasting?

Whatever the answer, QLD Building Repairs can help you with efficient, cost-effective installations that can have you enjoying your outdoor space in no time.

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“Outstanding quality work by your carpenters. We couldn’t be happier with our new benchtops.”
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