Composite decking boards, hardwood, softwood, PVC: unless you’re an expert landscaper, how do you know which is best? How do you know which type of board offers what you need for your DIY deck?
Which is the best deck material for a DIY project? Wood-plastic composite (WPC) decking boards are low-maintenance and have a lifespan of 20-30 years. The best decking looks like wood but is more durable, and is as strong as plastic but has anti-slip technology. It’s the best of both worlds, so is the best choice for durable and affordable decking.
The guide below is exactly what you need if you’re starting a DIY deck project: it covers what makes composite boards so great for DIY, and compares them one by one to the other materials you can use.
What’s the Best Deck Material for a DIY Deck?
Most people who build a deck DIY-style use softwood boards, although composites, hardwood and PVC are popular too. But you should definitely consider composite.
Best: Composite Decking
Composite decking is by far the best and most durable deck material: it has all the advantages of wood and PVC, but without the drawbacks.
The very best composite decking will have a lifespan of twenty to thirty years. But at the same time, it’s close to the natural and traditional look of wood, and is still anti-slip, despite partially being made of HDPE. It’s anti-scratch and anti-splinter, so is safe for dogs and children.
Of course, composite does have one or two drawbacks too. While you can find affordable composite decking, it’s generally somewhat more expensive than softwood. It can also get hot in full sun, although the same can be said for any deck. Overall, though,
Composite vs Softwood Decking Boards
Softwood is by far the most common material that decks are made of. That’s because it’s cost-effective and available everywhere.
Contrary to your probable first impression, the term ‘softwood’ doesn’t actually mean that the wood itself is soft. Rather, hardwood and softwood are terms that refer to the kind of tree the wood comes from. Softwood decking boards are made from coniferous evergreen trees like pine and spruce, while hardwood boards are made from oak, ash and the like.
Either way, softwood decking is cheaper and looks more traditional than composite. But composite boards last longer, they are less slippery to walk on, they don’t chip and splinter like softwood, they require far less maintenance, and they can be made from sustainable materials too.
Composite vs Hardwood Decking Boards
Hardwood decking boards are higher quality than softwood, and look great too, making them one of the best outdoor decking materials. But that quality comes as a price, as hardwood decks are notoriously expensive.
One of the big drawbacks with hardwood boards is that some require even more looking after than softwood. If you’ve ever had real wooden furniture, made from something like oak or mahogany, you’ll know why! Others like ipe wood, a special Brazilian hardwood, are more durable but consequently yet more expensive too.
Again, composite is easily the best decking material when compared to hardwood: it lasts longer, it’s more durable and scratch-resistant, and it requires much less maintenance. A hardwood deck should be sealed every year, but composite never needs to be sealed; all you need to do is sweep or mop it every few months to keep it in perfect condition.
Composite vs PVC Decking Boards
Polyvinyl chloride, better known as PVC, is one of the most widely-used plastics. It’s used for lots of things around the home like drainpipes, doors, windows and decks. It’s long-lasting, but does have significant drawbacks: it’s slippery, particularly in the rain, and can crack and splinter because it’s a brittle material. Composite is the best decking because it lasts just as long but is anti-slip and doesn’t shatter.
Which Is the Best Composite Decking (Comparison)
You also have to consider the different kinds of composite you can find. There is:
- Solid vs. hollow composite decking. Hollow composite decking boards have a space for air to flow through. This means solid boards are stronger, but get hotter in full sun.
- Capped vs. uncapped composite decking. Capped composite boards are slightly more expensive because they have a thin external layer of HDPE which makes them stronger.
- Grooved vs. non-grooved composite decking. Grooves on a composite board give you more grip when you walk on your deck.
Even the best composite decking isn’t perfect. If it’s placed in full sun on a hot day, it can get hot, but then again so can PVC or wood. But if you plan carefully, you can pick the kind of composite that’s just right for you.
Call Ecoscape for the Best Composite Decking!
So, interested in building a DIY deck but don’t know where to start? You can either request free samples or a free quote, or have all your FAQs answered on our dedicated composite decking page. If you’d like to get started, call us at 0845 9011 988 and one of our friendly, knowledgeable team can help!