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What Decking to Buy?

One of the most difficult decisions to make when building a deck is what type of decking boards to use. We have three types of decking to choose from. That’s treated softwood, untreated hardwood and composite. They’re all rot resistant to varying degrees, require approx. 400mm joist span for proper support, and can all be cut and installed using conventional tools and fasteners.

Is there a perfect choice? – No

Here I will try to give you pros and cons of all three types of decking and hopefully that will help you make your choice.

The pros and cons of hardwood decking

If the natural look of wood is you love the most in a garden then go for hardwood. Most of hardwood decking boards is very dense, rich in natural oils and rot resistant. For example Ipe or Balau doesn’t absorb moisture- and, since moisture is what creates twisting and splitting, hardwood decking tends to lie flat and straight (to some degree). Most hardwoods have a lifespan of around 20 years with Ipe being the best and even last 50 years.

To keep the natural colour, you have to seal your decking immediately after installation and be ready to repeat steel bite pro this process every year or even more often depending on weather conditions. In fact most of the people who went for hardwood decking tend to leave it to weather naturally to silver colour.

In terms of costs, hardwood decking is the most expensive of all three. It can cost anywhere from £140 to £250 per sq. meter. What makes it so expensive? Well, according to London Decking Company it has to be imported from South America, is heavy – increased cost of shipping per sq.m and installation process is different to other types. Hardwood decking boards must be pre-drilled prior to fixing. This increase installation time to almost double, compared with competitors. And finally fasteners must be stainless steel – on average 10 times dearer that standard screws.

Is it worth it? – Yes

Professionally installed and maintained hardwood decking will look sharp for many years. And what’s really good about it is that you can restore the fresh look anytime.

The pros and cons of softwood decking

If you look for economy decking then you should consider pressure treated softwood. It’s usually light green due to treatment process. This will fade to grey and since then you need to treat your decking with some preservatives to prevent rot. What makes softwood less durable from hardwood is that it’s almost impossible to stain decking boards from underside. And while with hardwood that’s not an issue as it has natural oils but softwood will start losing its quality.

If you decide to buy softwood decking, make sure that it has some time to dry before installation. When softwood is pressure treated, the moisture content is almost 100% during first few days. If you install wet softwood, it will shrink unevenly and twist when it dries. It’s worth spending little extra for better quality softwood. You want a decking boards that have fewer knots and are thicker. And, since many of the higher grade choices are kiln-dried both before and after pressure treatment, they have less tendency to warp.

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