When planning to build a deck in our harsh Australian environment, you are faced with the question of what type of material to use. Should you go with real wood, or would you be better off choosing composite? Though the choice may not be an easy one, here are some considerations that will help you decide.
The framing for most decks is composed of treated timber. This is the structural part of the deck that comprises the underside and typically isn’t seen. Your decision on materials will primarily include the surface and railings that are visible and directly exposed to the elements.
There are a number of timber options available for decking surfaces and railings. These include: Merbau, pressure-treated pine, Spotted Gum, and Jarrah. Most homeowners will opt for a Merbau due to its relatively economic cost and brilliant brown/red colours.
Composite decking is manufactured from wood fibres that are encased in plastic and other recycled materials. Although composite decking is rapidly changing and developing into a very robust and long-lasting solution, it has been subject to scrutiny in the past from its durability and longevity in the Australian environment. Many home builders, as well as homeowners, are using composite decking materials more and more because of the low maintenance solution it offers.
So, which should you use, wood or composite? The choice is entirely up to you, but it’s important that you know the pros and cons of each before making a decision.
Wood decking is affordable and provides many options. It looks nice, is easy to obtain and adds a rich, natural look to any home.
On the other hand, wood can come with its own set of problems. Over time it splinters and rots, and therefore requires quite a bit of upkeep to maintain. Sooner or later, the wood deck will need to be replaced entirely, and the high maintenance process will begin all over again.
Composite decking is easier than wood decking to maintain. It also emulates the rich look of wood and is a sturdy building material. Many composite decking options are also moisture-resistant all the way through so won’t be at risk of decaying.
Composite decking, however, is more costly to purchase. Different brands will vary in price, so if this is an option you are considering, be sure to shop around.
The first step to building a deck is to decide what look and feel you like best. Figure out what type of wood you want to use, then compare it to similar composite options. Think about factors such as maintenance and cost when making a final decision.
Lastly, ask your builder. They will be able to give you all of the information and advise to make an informed decision.