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What’s the difference between wooden and composite decking?

Traditional wood decking has been popular in the UK since the mid 1990s when garden designs of the time turned many suburban gardens into decking masterpieces. Since then, while still being a popular landscaping choice, the sight of rotten or moss covered decks has made them seem less attractive to those looking at a garden makeover, and an increasingly more expensive option to maintain in good condition. 

Enter (WPC) Composite Decking. Composite Decking is made from a mixture of wood and plastic fibres, both of which are from recycled products, reducing the product's environmental impact right the way through its lifecycle. Its composition also grants it a number of benefits that differentiate it from traditional wooden decking, which we'll take you through in this blog.

Initial cost and ongoing maintenance

While the rot and mould issues that come with traditional wooden decking can be held at bay with regular TLC, the investment this requires (both in time and money) has led to many homeowners doing away with their wooden decking altogether. 

With Composite Decking products, the initial cost of the decking itself can (but not always!) be slightly higher than a traditional wooden deck, but over time this can prove to be a savvy investment, thanks to the reduction in maintenance and repair costs.

Based on averages suggested by Checkatrade and using an average 15m2 as a size indicator, a treated softwood deck could cost anywhere between £1,000-£1,440, with hardwood setting you back around £1,500-£2,160. We have a vast range of decking products available at Select Living Group, suited to all styles and budgets. Using our Core Range, the same size deck would cost roughly £610, while using our Supreme Range would set you back £1,152 - so actually, cheaper than some wooden solutions!

Then, there’s the cost of any ongoing maintenance to consider. The Timber Decking & Cladding Association states that traditional wood decking should have a performance warranty of between 15 to 25 years, depending on the supplier, and should be maintained ‘regularly’ in order to achieve the maximum lifespan from the product. This includes regular brushing, the removal of any debris such as fallen leaves or moss and moving plant pots or furnishings around to allow air circulation. They also encourage a yearly thorough cleaning of the surface, which usually involves getting a pressure washer or more heavy duty cleaning power involved. 

Assuming that one of these more intense decking treatment jobs costs you £100 (whether that’s through equipment hire or hiring a professional), over the lifespan of a 25 year deck, that's an additional £2,500 (at least) that you’ll need to factor into your costs. 

On the other hand, cleaning and maintaining a composite deck shouldn’t take that much effort - at all! As and when your deck gets a bit dirty (which is bound to happen in the great British weather), simply give it a rinse down with some warm soapy water and you’re all set! 

Environmental impact

Probably the biggest advantage that composite decking has over traditional wooden decking is its eco-friendly credentials. As mentioned, Composite decking is made from recycled wood and recycled plastic, both being reduced to fine particles before being re-combined into the final composite material used in the manufacture of our decking boards. 

Wooden decking (naturally) requires wood to be made, meaning trees have to be cut down and used in the process. With estimates suggesting that 41 million trees are cut down each day for a variety of uses across the world, anything that we can do to help reduce this number and protect the earth for future generations is surely a good thing. As composite decking only uses wood that has come from waste or recycled timber, there is no need for any trees to be felled purely for the decking to be created. 

If you’re looking to refresh your garden or outdoor space this year, then investing in composite decking may end up being a wise move, both for your pocket and for the planet! You can check out our full range of products by visiting our Composite Decking section, or take some inspiration from our gallery

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