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LANDSCAPING & EXTERNAL FINISHES


Timber or composite?


Deciding on the best decking option for your garden makeover can be challenging. Tony Hobbs of Southern Sheeting offers some advice to help you choose


T


he trend for durable and premium wood plastic composite (WPC) decking is now firmly established in the UK, and continues to gather momentum. It has also been a big hit in markets such as the USA and Germany. In the US alone, the market for WPC products is forecast to rise 3.7 per cent per year to $4.9bn in 2024, according to a new study by Freedonia Group. The demand for these products in the UK looks poised for further growth, as awareness about the material’s benefits builds.


WPC decking looks very like


timber, it’s resistant to issues such as warping and rot, and many brands come with a 20-year guarantee, so it’s surprisingly cost effective thanks to its long-lasting qualities. Timber of course remains a popular choice, and the debate has always centred on whether to keep costs down with a softwood option, or to push the boat out and plump for longer lasting hard wood. But now WPC, with its designer friendly aesthetic, is making it a force to be reckoned with. Due to technological advances, high-end composite decks look stunning, and stay that way with very little maintenance. Traditionalists enjoy the look of real


timber, which can be revarnished or repainted for a change of style and this look is often better suited to older homes. However, composite decking maintains its good looks for longer and with less effort. It is also less slippery when wet, making it a safer option for children and elderly people. It is more weather resistant than timber, and comes in a greater range of colours. Often it looks so much like real wood, it’s hard to spot the difference. It is perfect for a contemporary and luxury garden, with consumers seeing it as increasingly desirable because of its durability. WPC is also designed to be splinter-


proof, which means it will retain the same look for many years, while splinters naturally occur in traditional timber


may/june 2021


decking. This also makes it safer for children and pets. In addition, using WPC removes the need to fill in gaps from splintering or knots in the wood. It will reduce the cost of decking repair following adverse winter weather conditions.


THE PRACTICAL COST


Price is always going to be a factor in any decision about garden decking and it’s true that timber decking is usually cheaper to lay initially, especially if softwood is used. But it’s important to consider that it will need far more maintenance. Timber decking requires annual treatments of sealant, stain or varnish to keep it weather-resistant, plus treatments to prevent mould and rot. Composite decking just requires hosing down once a year to remove any build-up of dirt and algae. Over time, composite decking becomes a more cost- effective choice.


Depending on the type of wood used for a timber decking area, it will have an average lifespan of between 10 to 15


With its low maintenance and durability, composite decking could be exactly the


modern aesthetic you’ve been looking for


years. A composite deck can often last twice as long. Some brands are even guaranteed for an astonishing 25 years in residential settings.


Composite decking can be laid in the same way as a timber deck – any self-


www.sbhonline.co.uk 81


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