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Natural vs. Composite Decking: Which Should I Choose?

Whether it’s for alfresco dining, socialising, or simply an attractive surface on which to bask in the warm mid-afternoon sun, outdoor decking can be the perfect solution for a range of garden activities.

Installing a deck, either at ground-level, or elevated in the shape of a balcony or a raised platform, can be an excellent investment, and one that will add functionality and a neat, eye-catching aesthetic to your outdoor space.

For good reason, timber is the classic choice when it comes to outdoor decking, but there have emerged on the market a series of synthetic alternatives that aim to recreate the natural rich beauty of wood. But which option is better?

Let’s dive into the particulars of each material and determine which is the right choice for your outdoor decking project.

Composite Decking

A Worthwhile Investment?

Composite decking is a smart, eco-friendly outdoor flooring solution that is designed to be weather-resistant and easy to maintain. Using a mixture of wood fibres and recycled plastic, this decking option is highly durable and will cater for the majority of your outdoor decking needs throughout the seasons.

Despite these useful qualities, however, there’s no escaping the fact that composite decking is not the cheapest material available. It’s generally more expensive than its natural wood counterpart—largely down to the man-hours involved in the manufacturing process. 

It’s also worth noting that the majority of composite decking is sourced from abroad—mainly China—which brings with it a sizable carbon footprint in the manufacturing and shipping process. That’s before taking into account the issue of disposing of the part-plastic product at the end of its life cycle by clean and eco-friendly methods.

Colour choices

Before deciding to invest in composite decking, you need to be forward-thinking with your colour choices—as once it’s installed, changing it again is no straightforward task. Composite decking is manufactured in such a way that the colour is added permanently. A beneficial quality in terms of reducing the chance of fading and the general maintenance and upkeep of your decking, but not so helpful if you wish to add new tones and finishes. Darker colours such as blacks and browns are particularly difficult to alter once you’ve made your choice.

Aesthetics

Composite decking manufacturers will do their best to recreate the natural aesthetics of timber, and here at Fountain Timber, we supply a stunning range of Millboard decking that looks remarkably similar to the real thing. But, even with the very latest in industry improvements and technology, you will never fully capture the visual essence of wood. Add that to the environmental benefits of choosing a natural material like kiln-dried Scandinavian softwood for your decking, which can be recycled at the end of its long service life, and is a wonderfully green option, and the advantages really begin to pile up.

linax decking outside building
linax decking shades

Natural Timber Decking - Linax

Another superb natural wooden decking choice, Linax timber is boiled in linseed oil under a vacuum to produce a sustainable, environmentally-friendly board. It has long maintenance intervals, between 5-7 years, and comes with a 12-year product warranty and a 20-year rot warranty. To create the natural aesthetic of your choice, it’s available in brown, grey and finishes.

The linseed boiling process, which is done without colour pigments under a vacuum, reduces the wood’s moisture absorption and makes for an extremely stable board with excellent resistance to rot. 

The advantages of LINAX decking

  • Environmentally friendly with a very low copper release 

  • 12-year product warranty, 20-year rot warranty

  • Long maintenance intervals (5-7 years) 

  • Available in brown, grey and natural finishes

iro colour decking
iro decking with fire pit

Natural Timber Decking - IRO Coloured Decking

IRO architectural timber is a unique range of coloured decking made in the UK which uses the very latest in timber technology. Its charred profile is enhanced by water-repellent wood which leaves a beautifully smooth, glossy finish. This natural aesthetic is perfectly suited for any outdoor space and will only enhance your garden environment.

The seven-step process involved in manufacturing this decking, which includes two stages of kiln drying combined with heat enhancement, makes the product more resilient to rot and insect attack.

High-pressure treatment and the application of a protective wood cream ensure that IRO decking is a vibrant, premium-quality product with a long-lasting, water-repellent surface.

The advantages of IRO Coloured Decking

  • Environmentally friendly

  • Resilient to rot and insect attack

  • Long-lasting, UV stable, water-repellent surface

  • Available in 10 colours

  • HVOC-free, ensuring a child and pet-friendly product

Natural Decking - Bamboo

Bamboo, the famously quick-growing evergreen can be harvested after around 4 to 5 years—compared to 50 to 100 years with hardwood. Its naturally robust properties ensure the boards used for decking will last longer and retain their visual quality for many years. Bamboo decking can be installed in clean, distinct patterns which will harmonise with the organic surrounding of your garden or terrace. A brilliant natural decking choice that will stand the test of time. 

Because bamboo is virtually inexhaustible and retains large amounts of CO2, it makes for an excellent eco-friendly alternative to composites, plastic, and tropical hardwood. 

Meanwhile, the high stability of bamboo decking means that only a small amount of space is required between each board. In addition, bamboo decking boards can be fitted in such a way that the fastenings are not visible, guaranteeing a neat, clean finish.  

The advantages of bamboo decking

  • Long service life

  • High stability

  • Environmentally friendly

  • Natural look

  • No visible fastening

bamboo decking poolside
dark bamboo decking

How can we help?

So there we have it. While composite decking does offer something in the way of weather-proofing and is relatively easy to maintain, it simply does not compare to the overall advantages of choosing natural timber. In terms of longevity, quality of finish, natural aesthetics, environmental benefits, and cost—there’s really only one option.

If you’d like to discuss any of the decking products available in our range, or would like any help or expert advice on your latest decking project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Posted on April 7th 2022

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