As with many other things in life, there is no such thing as 'one size fits all' when it comes to the different decking choices. Every person has different goals for their deck, different requirements and needs, and all lead very different lives. There are a couple of questions that you must think about when choosing the perfect decking for you.
Firstly, what are your priorities – is it something you need just for one event? Or would you rather use it for many years to come?
Secondly, how long do you think you will want to use it for?
How much maintenance are you prepared to do on your deck – just a quick scrub down, or would you be willing to spend some time maintaining it every now and then?
This article will cover and evaluate the pros and cons of the 3 different decking finishes. By the end of this article, you will be able to decide what the best decking choice is for you.
There are a few main areas to compare:
- Install speed
- Upfront and long-term costs
Which Decking material requires the least maintenance?
Wooden deck boards need a lot of maintenance. Due to the natural nature of this material, it can very quickly rot away if not looked after correctly. It requires at least yearly maintenance to keep it in tip-top condition. Below are the main things that you will have to keep on top of to ensure a timber deck keeps providing the fun and entertaining space that you set out to have.
- Coating/ Treating the decking – coating with a varnish or similar should happen around once a year
- Ensuring there is not too much moisture – this can very quickly lead to rot and swelling of the timber and should be looked out for all the time, most importantly in the winter
- Replacing cracked/ splintered boards – wooden deckboards can crack and splinter over time, and should be replaced yearly to avoid those nasty splinters!
Composite decking boards require very little maintenance. There are two main finish types of composite deck boards you can choose from, capped and uncapped. An uncapped board needs slightly more maintenance as it can stain slightly.
- Occasionally sweeping or clearing the decking – this will keep the decking looking like it is new – and tidy of course!
- Washing/ cleaning – cleaning a composite deck area with water and a brush should happen at least once a year, just to keep it looking like new. Of course this can be done more regularly to ensure it doesn't get too dirty, however this is not a necessity.
- Rotating/ moving furniture – moving your deck furniture can help even any fading that can happen (this is more important for an uncapped board, as the colour will fade a neutralise slightly after a few months of being installed)
Aluminium also requires little maintenance. As it is a metal its non-combustible (more on that later). It is similar to composite in the way it does not require any coating or staining. However, any scratches will be very visible as it will show raw aluminium, so this is something that must not be overlooked.
- Occasionally sweeping and clearing the decking – just to keep it looking neat and tidy. Entirely up to you when you do this, maybe once a month?
- Washing/ Cleaning – to remove any mud/dirt of any type, use some water and a brush. You must be careful not to brush any stones as this could scratch the surface and leave an unsightly mark. This should happen at least once a year to stop too much dirt build-up.
- Touching up any scratches – as above, aluminium decking can leave very unsightly silver marks where it has been scratched due to the fact it is just painted aluminium. These will need to be touched up.
Which Decking Type has the easiest installation?
A lot of people are familiar with the properties of wood, meaning install is one of the quickest. It can be easily cut to shape. We’d usually expect a 50sqm wooden deck area to take around a week for a DIY install.
Composite is very similar to wood, after all, it is a wood polymer composite or WPC. This means install is similar in speed and simplicity to wooden decking, but may require hidden fixings, which give a cleaner look instal of screwing directly through the board, like timber decks. As with timber, we’d expect a 50sqm composite deck to take around a week to install.
Aluminium decking takes the longest to install. This is mainly due to the fact that it is a metal, meaning cutting takes longer and is more difficult. You will need more robust tools and equipment. We’d expect an aluminium decking to take around 1.5 weeks to install a 50sqm area.
Which Decking Type is the most durable?
Wooden decking is the least durable of the three, and as it is a natural product, it will warp, twist, splinter and crack. Over time, it will almost always rot. We would expect a wooden decking to last from 5-10 years depending on the maintenance. After this period, it may become a danger to use as it may crack and/or rot.
Composite decking is much more durable. This is due to the fact that it is made of a combination of materials. The plastic content in composite ensures that it will not rot. However, it can expand and contract slightly, so expansion gaps are a necessity. Composite decks last from 15-30 years with very little maintenance (this is dependent on the substructure still being sound)
Aluminium decking is very strong and therefore can last up to 35 years in the correct environment. However, it will need touch-up paint on scratches if you want that like-new look throughout its whole lifetime.
Which Decking Type is the most attractive?
This is very dependant on personal choice, as we’re all different.
Wooden decks obviously have the most natural look. That because they are natural. However over time algae and rot can spoil the appearance. Painting or coating a wooden deck can transform it, but not for long! It will need to be coated at least once a year to keep it looking good.
Composite decks come in a variety of different colours, shapes and sizes. There will almost certainly be something to suit your taste. It will also stay looking like new for years to come! Personally, I think composite is the most attractive, hardly a surprise seeing as we specialise in it!
Aluminium has a very contemporary look, and does not look at all natural. It is normally used as a necessity, where a building must have a non-combustible deck.
Which decking type costs the least?
Wooden Decking – this has the cheapest upfront cost, generally around £20-£45 per sqm.
Composite Decking – composite decking generally costs around £50-£70 per sqm.
Aluminium Decking – This has the most expensive upfront cost, generally around £70-£100 per sqm.
Wooden deck maintenance will cost around £1000 over 10 years (your deck will most likely need replaced after this period)
- Coating – around £50 per season
- Replacing worn/ damaged deck boards – around £30 per season
Composite decking requires very little upkeep. You will hardly acquire any upkeep expenses (maybe a brush or two to keep it clean?)
Aluminium decking also require little to no upkeep. Possibly some touch a paint (£10) for the nasty scratches.
Which decking type is best for you?
Having covered the above points we think;
A wooden decking might be the right choice for you if…..
- You have a low budget
- You don’t need your decking area for very long
- You don’t mind spending time maintaining your deck
- You are happy to spend money on coatings and other maintenance items.
A composite decking area might be the right choice for you if…..
- You have the budget to part with a larger sum of money upfront
- You don’t want to spend any time maintaining your deck area
- You’d rather not have any long-term costs
- You’re not happy with the traditional look of a wooden decking
An aluminium decking area might be the right choice for you if…..
- You have a large budget
- You must use non-combustible decking (if you are planning to install your deck area over 18m high off the ground, on a balcony or terrace)
- You are willing to put up with the slightly more unsightly finish
- You don’t mind spending a little bit of time touching up the decking.
OVAEDA is an outdoor living supplier based in Ellon, Scotland. We specialize in composite decking, porcelain paving and an aluminium subframe system. We firmly believe that our products are the most suitable for a garden environment. We are committed to giving you the best service possible, and are so confident our products will last, we provide amazing warranties. More details below.
OVAEDA Composite Decking Warranty
Now that you have read all that you need to know about the various types of decking, you may begin thinking about using it as an option for your garden or balcony. With so many options available, we know it can seem like a big decision to make. Why not begin by ordering one of our free sample boxes to help you choose which style will best suit you?
You can also call us on 0208 159 2999 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get quotes, guidance and any technical support with your plans. If you think you will require the help of a professional installer, we are happy to recommend one to assist.