What Is The Best Wood For Decking?

Written by The Plastic People
20/10/2023 09:07:45

Getting your garden decking right isn’t always as straightforward as it might seem. If you’ve started to think about adding wood decking to your home, you’ve probably started to notice that there’s a lot more to the whole process than simply putting everything in place. You’ve probably had plenty of different questions in your mind about your decking, but there’s one that might be more important than most – what is the best wood for decking in your garden?  

Much like the process of getting the decking in there, the answer to that question isn’t necessarily an easy one to find! But it’s an answer that, if you get it right, gives you so much more from your decking overall. Because building decking is like adding an entirely new dimension to your home. You get a cosy outdoor space for you, your family and your friends for basking in the sun, having parties and gatherings, or unwinding under the stars with a good book. It’s a multi-purpose space that needs to be able to withstand the challenges of the outdoor world, but also one that needs to look the way you want it to. 

That’s why choosing the right wood for your decking is crucial. It impacts the aesthetics of your decking, its longevity and durability, and its ability to give you exactly what you’re looking for. And we’re here to help you make the right choice… 

Navigating the Maze of Wood-Choice for Decking 

When it comes to finding the best wood for your decking, it can be a bit of a balancing act. There are quite a few different elements that you need to think about, and each one plays a different part in giving you that dream outdoor space that you want. Here are a few things that you need to take into account when you’re trying to find the best wood for decking: 

  1. Durability: Your decking should be able to take a beating from the elements - rain, sun, and temperature swings can all wreak havoc on decking if you don’t choose the right wood. Make sure you pick a type that’s able to handle the environmental characteristics of your location so that your decking doesn’t fall apart. 
  2. Decay Resistance: Decking is constantly battling with moisture, especially in the UK. That means you need a type of wood that's resistant to decay and rot. This ties in with durability but is still slightly different in the sense that moisture plays the biggest part in causing your decking to decay.  
  3. Aesthetics: You want your decking to look good. Looks and aesthetics are affected by the wood's colour and grain pattern, amongst a few other things. The overall appearance of the wood can have a huge impact on the final style of your decking. 
  4. Maintenance: Different woods have different maintenance needs, from regular sealing to the occasional spruce-up. You need to think about whether you can consistently meet the maintenance requirements of your chosen wood in order to get the most out of your decking, otherwise you risk affecting the durability and looks of your new outdoor space. 
  5. Sustainability: Sustainable wood sourcing is a pretty big talking point these days, and for good reason. It’s worth looking into whether your chosen wood can be acquired from a sustainable supplier, particularly if you’re concerned about the ecological impact. This factor can have a big impact on certain wood choices. 
  6. Budget: Sadly, certain types of wood are simply much more expensive than others. Your chosen budget is going to play a big role in helping you make the final choice when it comes to the best wood for your decking. 

The Best Wood Choices for Decking 

When it comes to choosing your decking timber, there can sometimes be an overwhelming number of options. But there are definitely some stand-out candidates that can give you everything you need for your decking project. Let’s take a look at some of the best wood types for decking: 

1. Softwood - Pressure-Treated Pine 

Softwoods are one of the most popular types of wood used when building decking, and pressure-treated pine is possibly right at the top of that list as one of the most used. It can sometimes be thought of as the people's choice. Pressure-treated pine is a budget-friendly option (possibly one of the cheapest types of decking boards you can find) that’s treated with a range of chemicals to battle rot and insect infestations, making it a great workhorse for outdoor decking. However, it does need some maintenance and requires sealing and staining to ensure longevity. Pine can also sometimes darken slightly as it ages. 

2. Softwood - Redwood and Cedar 

Hailed as some of the best softwood decking boards and timber you can use – both redwood and cedar are extremely popular for decking, and it’s easy to see why. Both offer more durability than pine, with redwood being the most durable out of the two. These varieties also offer a more natural resistance to decay and bugs, and both boast beautiful natural colours and grain patterns that can result in a stunning decking project for any outdoor space. Redwood and cedar are both more costly than pine, but they do require less maintenance, and generally have a longer lifespan. 

3. Hardwood - IPE 

Hardwood decking is much more durable than softwood. So why is softwood the most popular choice for decking? Well, hardwood is often much more expensive. The trees that hardwood varieties come from are generally slow growing. But the benefits of hardwood decking are hard to turn down if your budget will allow for their use. IPE, also known as "ironwood," is the deck superstar when it comes to durability and decay resistance. With a rich, dark colour and unique grain pattern, IPE is a gorgeous option for a unique appearance. It's also a low-maintenance type of wood and can last for decades if given the proper care, and it boasts excellent resistance to moisture and bugs, as well as fire and superficial damage like scratches. 

4. Hardwood – Teak and Oak 

More well-known hardwoods that have found their place as firm favourites for decking are Teak and Oak. Teak in particular is an incredibly popular choice due to its excellent durability and longevity. With a high oil content, it boasts fantastic resistance to decay and bugs, and it also features excellent tensile strength. However, teak is also one of the more expensive hardwood options, and can leave a rather hefty dent in your budget. Oak is also very popular for its strength, durability, and natural resistance to moisture, and is a much more cost-efficient option compared to teak. You also have a few different options when it comes to finding the right look with oak, particularly when it comes to colour. Different varieties, such as red and white, give you a lot of options when it comes to getting the aesthetic of your decking right.  

Using Cut-to-Size Wood for Features 

Now, let's talk about adding unique aspects to your decking. This is where cut-to-size wood comes in handy, particularly cut-to-size plywood and MDF. While they typically don't have what it takes to be a long-lasting and reliable option as a main decking timber, they’re a fantastic option for creating custom decking elements. These can include options such as railings, posts, and other unique decorative aspects. The biggest benefit of cut-to-size wood panels is that you get a precise fit from the get-go, and they provide you with plenty of flexibility when bringing your decking project to life. Cut-to-size wood also help you save money overall whilst reducing waste, because you’re only buying the wood that you need for specific parts of your decking. 

What Wood Should You Choose? 

When it comes to making the final choice, it’s about finding the right fit for you and your needs. You have a wide array of options that provide distinct advantages over others, and some of these varieties are only suitable for certain budgets. For a popular budget-friendly choice, pressure-treated pine is a fantastic option. But if you want to venture into the world of hardwood decking, IPE and oak offer outstanding durability with excellent longevity, but at a much higher cost. It all comes down to your priorities – set out your needs and find the right fit for you. And if you need help with cut-to-size wood for your decking or other DIY projects, we’ve got you covered.  

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