Timber Vs. Composite Decking: What Homeowners Need to Know

Updated July 6th, 2023

If you consider adding decking to your home, your contractor will likely ask you to choose between timber and wood decking. Composite and timber are the most popular decking options. Each of these materials comes with advantages and drawbacks that you should know before you decide on one. When choosing either, you will need to think about several things, including cost, maintenance, durability, and more.

Ultimately, the decision will boil down to your personal preference, maintainability, and budget. However, it’d still be best to weigh your options since this will be a considerable investment.

Decking Costs

The cost of timber decking will depend on the type of wood you or the contractor would like to use. Hardwood decking is often more expensive than softwood decking, with composite decking a costlier alternative. It is not uncommon to find hardwood decking priced the same as composite decking in some hardware stores.

It’s essential to remember that while composite decking may be more expensive, it can save you money in the long run because it’s durable and insect-proof, among other characteristics. Also, the strength of the material won’t leave you worrying during the harshest temperatures of the summer and winter seasons.

If you choose timber decking, you also need to consider other costs associated with timber decking. The one cost you will have to contend with is the cost of oils and stains that are used to make sure the decking looks its best for longer. There might also be additional costs required to maintain timber decking over its lifetime.

Look and Feel

Composite decking is the better material if you are looking for decking that is a lot less slippery. Composite decking also comes in a range of colors and finishes. Depending on the composition of wood fibers and recycled plastic, it is possible to have composite decking boards that look exceedingly like either plastic or wood. The forma decking boards from Ecoscape, for example, come in a range of colors, from midnight black to the spicy brown color of oak. Ecoscape supplies eco-friendly composite building products, including cladding, fencing, decking, and balustrades. All their products also come with a 20-year warranty.

In addition to the many color variations available, different decking boards will usually look different due to the mixing process of the wood and plastic, thereby giving you a unique decking even when you source the boards from the same supplier as your neighbor.

Many people find the versatility of timber decking appealing. Even if there are already many wood colors, such as those of treated pine and cedar, you can still paint or stain the material to complement your home’s design, helping you achieve a more cohesive look.

On the other hand, since composite decking is made from a mixture of plastic and wood, the look and feel may not be as natural as timber decking. But you may still overcome this by styling your deck beautifully using accessories and furniture that’d enhance the area.

Although hardwood decking is a better option if you are going for a luxurious look, timber decking can be very slippery and wet, as well as cause splinters if it is not maintained well. Although you get a limited selection of colors when you choose wooden decking, you can change the look using oils, stains, and paints.

Lifespan and Maintenance

Many people do not know that timber decking can last for a lifetime. However, this will depend on how well the decking is taken care of, the type of wood used, and the traffic levels on the deck. Sections that are worn down can be sanded down or replaced, which saves you the time and money it would take to replace the whole deck.

Composite decking is often rated for 20 to 30 years, although it can last longer and requires less maintenance. Maintenance for composite decking usually only involves cleaning it, and there is no need for paint, oils, or stains to protect it from damage caused by moisture. One thing to note is that composite decking is prone to scratches. These scratches are harder to repair or remove because composite decking cannot be sanded down.

Environmental Impact

Timber is an environmentally-friendly building material. Once it ages, it breaks down without causing too much environmental damage. Timber can also be sourced in a way that causes as little damage to the environment as possible.

Composite decking, on the other hand, is made out of recycled wood and plastic. In some cases, this plastic is recycled. Even though the wood used minimizes the impact of the manufacture of composite decking on the environment, plastic has some impact on the environment.

The production process, the by-products, and the fact that crude oil is used in the manufacturing process can make it seem like composite decking is not environmentally friendly. To ensure that it is, manufacturers are using recycled plastic in the manufacturing process. This way, manufacturing waste, as well as the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills, is reduced.


Composite decking is not a structural material. This means that it requires more support to give it the strength required when used in decking. Contractors do this by placing joists closer together, which can increase the cost of having the decking installed. Timber is a structural material and does not need as much support to prevent sagging or breakages.

Your choice of decking material will depend on the characteristics of the material as well as your personal preferences. Composite decking is the better option if you do not want to spend a lot of time taking care of the decking and need a non-slip decking surface because you have kids in the house. Timber decking can be a great option if you are going for a traditional look and do not mind the maintenance necessary to keep the decking in top shape.


As a homeowner, it’s essential to consider the factors mentioned in this post to help you choose a type of decking that’ll provide you with a beautiful and functional outdoor living space that you’ll enjoy for many years. Regardless of your choice, your deck must be built to high standards to ensure the structure’s longevity and your family’s safety.

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