Timber decking has long been a popular choice for homeowners looking to create an inviting outdoor living space. While timber offers a natural, warm appearance that many people find appealing, it also comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks. In this blog post, we'll explore the pros and cons of using timber decking materials, helping you determine if it's the right choice for your outdoor oasis.
Pros of Timber Decking Materials
One of the most significant benefits of timber decking is its natural beauty. The warmth and character of wood can create an inviting and visually appealing outdoor space that complements a wide range of architectural styles. Timber decking is available in various species, including softwoods like Pine and Cedar, and hardwoods like Ash, Iroko and Ipe, offering a range of colors and grain patterns to suit your personal taste.
Sustainable and Renewable Resource
Timber is a renewable and sustainable resource, making it an environmentally friendly choice for decking materials. Responsibly harvested timber from well-managed forests can provide a green alternative to other materials like plastic or composite decking. Look for decking materials with certifications from organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure your timber is sourced responsibly.
Timber decking offers a high degree of bespoke customization, allowing you to create a unique and personalized outdoor space. You can choose from various board widths, species, stains, and finishes to achieve your desired look, and timber decking can be cut and shaped to suit your specific design requirements. Something that isn't available with composite material.
In many cases, timber decking can be a more affordable option compared to composite or other decking materials. Softwoods like pressure-treated Pine are widely available and typically cost less than composite materials. However, it's important to consider long-term costs, as timber decking may require more maintenance and repairs over time, especially if you buy cheap pressure treated softwood with heavy grooves in the surface. These are typically available in DIY/Builders Merchants and should be avoided, because of the grooved profile requiring persistent cleaning to avoid board degradation.
Remember the saying ‘Buy Cheap, Buy Twice’, a saying that applies to most items these days if you haven't done your research.
Cons of Timber Decking Materials
One of the drawbacks of timber decking is the perceived maintenance. This is most likely in cheaper softwood boards rather than good quality and stable hardwoods. Wood is susceptible to the elements and will require cleaning once or twice a year as appropriate and surface oiled to maintain the wood's colour and condition the surface. Just as you would with an outdoor teak table. This includes periodic staining or sealing to protect against moisture, UV damage, and fading. Neglecting this maintenance can result in a shorter lifespan for your deck and increased repair costs. As a note to remember, alll decking material, no matter what it is made from, will require cleaning. There is no such thing as a maintenance free decking product, especially given the climate we experience in the UK
Susceptibility to Damage
Timber decking can be prone to various types of damage, including warping, cracking, splintering, and rotting. This is very much down to the quality of the timber you are purchasing as to whether you experience any of this and similar issues like this can be visible in certain low quality composite boards.
Variability in Quality
The quality of timber decking materials can vary significantly, depending on factors like the wood species, source, and treatment process. Lower-quality timber may be more prone to warping, cracking, or rotting, leading to a shorter lifespan and higher maintenance costs. When choosing timber decking, it's essential to invest in high-quality materials that are stable like ThermoWood softwoods and hardwoods and work with a reputable supplier to ensure the best results.
Potential Environmental Impact
While timber can be an eco-friendly choice when sourced responsibly, not all timber decking materials are created equal. The harvesting of some wood species, particularly tropical hardwoods like Ipe and Teak, can contribute to deforestation and habitat loss. If environmental concerns are a priority for you, consider researching the source of your timber decking and choosing materials certified by organizations like the FSC. and sustainably managed plantations.
To conclude, timber decking materials offer many bespoke advantages over composite decking, including aesthetic appeal, sustainability, customization, and affordability. However, they also come with maintenance requirements, susceptibility to damage, variability in quality, and potential environmental impacts. By carefully weighing the pros and cons of timber and seek advice from someone that builds as well as supplies and manufactures these materials as their experience will help prevent you being a victim to a salesperson with little experience on the subject.