Timber decks are becoming more and more popular in Australian homes.
Having an attractive and well-designed deck makes for a magnificent entertaining area ideal for BBQs, dinner parties or simply just a place to relax and spend time with the family.
One of the most important factors that needs to be taken into consideration when designing and purchasing your deck is the type of material used.
Decking timbers can be separated into three categories, Hardwoods, Softwoods and Composites.
Hardwood timber is the most the popular decking material used and for good reason; they are more durable, last longer and look better for longer.
Hardwood timber is grown from trees in slightly tropical regions that have grown slower, hence making them a better quality timber.
The most popular choice of hardwood in Australia is Merbau (Kwila).
Merbau is considered one of the world’s durable timbers and has a lovely grain pattern and appearance.
A well maintained Merbau deck is expected to last between 25-50 years with only minimal shrinkage.
These factors have contributed towards it being a popular choice of timber for Aussie decks.
Hardwood is an excellent choice for decking material, however is considerably more expensive than softwood.
Softwood timber is sourced from broadleaved (conifer) trees such as pine or ceder.
These timbers are naturally less dense and are required to be treated with a timber preservative so that they can stand up to the demands of Mother Nature. Once they are treated, the timber should last for up to 25 years.
Softwood is generally easier to work with when compared with hardwood making it an attractive option. It is also cheaper due to the fact that softwood trees grow much faster than those producing hardwood.
These factors make softwood an economical choice, but the durability of softwood also needs to be considered when considering it over hardwood.
Composite Wood is a combination of timber and plastic and is a popular economical choice for decking.
The combination of these two materials is molded into solid planks that resemble a real wood finish and can look identical to standard timber decking.
The exposed edges of these planks is natural timber so some composites are suspect to mold growth and rot.
Additives can be added to the timber composite to prevent this, so it is not always the case.
Premium brand composite wood can replicate wood very closely and is extremely resistant to rot and mold.
This decking is generally more expensive than the hardwood and softwood timber decking.
Composite decking is generally low maintenance, but if a plank is stained or damaged they cannot be refinished or sanded and will need to be replaced.