Our Guide to Decking

A successful garden design is about not only the layout but also how the garden connects with nature.

Using decking is a great way of bringing a more natural feel to your garden design, and there are many different types available, including softwood, hardwood and composite decking that contains recycled wood and plastic. Much depends on your budget, your maintenance requirements and the aesthetic you would like your decking to provide.

Softwood

Softwood is by far the cheapest type of decking to buy, and it takes the least amount of time to install, so if you have a tight budget, then this is the best option. Softwood can be easier to work with, but you have to make sure the deck is properly maintained. The required maintenance includes pressure washing to remove algae and dirt. Softwood soaks up moisture like a sponge, which means it gets dirtier than hardwood and is more prone to algae covering the surface. A quick pressure wash soon rectifies this, but it’s important to make sure that the deck is pressure washed before the dirt and algae get absorbed into the wood as this could permanently stain it. A wood preserver applied once a year would help as it provides a protective layer.

This may seem like a lot of work but bear in mind that softwood decking can cost 60% less than hardwood and composite decking.

Hardwood

Hardwood decking can be the easiest type of decking to look after, but it can be very expensive to buy and takes a lot longer to install than softwood decking. However, the extra cost may provide a return as it needs a lot less maintenance. Hardwood absorbs less moisture and dirt than softwood and is also less prone to scratches.

The durability means that a hardwood deck can last as long as 12 to 15 years, and if you treat it with a preserver, you could double this.

Composite

Composite decking is a relatively new product, and it’s often referred to as the most environmentally friendly type of decking because it’s made using recycled materials including wood chips and plastic.

There are many advantages to using composite decking, such as the range of colours available, from grey to purple and brown. Composite decking does not degrade like wood, so it typically outlasts hardwood decking. It isn’t porous so it won’t soak up moisture or get covered in algae.

The cost of composite decking can be more than that of hardwood and the colour is only on the surface, so if there is any major damage that goes through the surface layer, it cannot be simply sanded down.