Best Timber Species for Decking
Decking is a stunning addition to any outdoor space, adding value to your property and providing a bespoke space to relax and spend time in. To achieve the right result, choosing a high-quality material is of paramount importance. With great eco-credentials and a unique aesthetic, timber makes the ideal choice.
NORclad manufactures and supplies a range of timber products alongside the cladding range, including brise soleil and timber decking. Our case studies are testament to the breadth of projects we’ve been involved in, making us perfectly placed to advise you on the right option.
In this blog, we discuss what makes a good decking material, and provide guidance on choosing the right timber species.
How to Choose Material for Decking – Things to Consider
Of course, when creating your dream outdoor decking area, appearance is likely to be the first thing you think about. The natural aesthetic appeal of wood makes it a popular option for all sorts of projects, offering a range of colours and effects depending on species and age. More than that, staining and painting timber can enable you to create a totally unique look and feel for your decking, and make it last for longer.
Timber Cladding Colour Guide – Colour & Appearance of Different Timber Species >
Decking is an outdoor feature and as such the material you choose needs to be durable and resistant to rot, weathering, decay, and shifts in temperature. The material is likely to encounter plenty of moisture thanks to UK weather, so it’s important for it to have a good dimensional stability and for any unavoidable movement to be accounted for during installation (i.e., leave a gap).
See more: Wood Protection – How to Protect Wood/Timber from the Elements >
The location of your decking may have an influence on the material you choose. If the decking is going to be an extension of the house or part of the porch area it may be more sheltered from the elements. As a result, a less durable option can be used. Moreover, if the decking is likely to see full sunlight in the summer, composite materials and aluminium options are unlikely to be suitable. This is because they have a low heat resistance and may be uncomfortable to walk bare foot on in summer. Going down the timber route is a much better option, the only thing to bear in mind is how UV light may affect the colour over time.
Decking materials vary widely in price, and that’s before you consider the ongoing maintenance costs too. Some materials might be cheaper but need more regular repair work and maintenance. As a result, it’s important to balance price point with quality of material.
Finally, as with any project large or small, the environmental impact should be a key factor in your decision-making. Composite and synthetic materials may be attractive for their reduced maintenance requirements, but any product made partly or entirely from plastic carries with it a sizeable carbon footprint and many are not recyclable at end of life. Timber, on the other hand, is totally biodegradable and is considered carbon neutral because trees absorb CO2 during their growth.
What is the Best Material for Decking?
First and foremost, your decking needs to look good, but it also needs to be well-suited to its outdoor location, and able to withstand the elements. Decks are high impact outdoor areas, so strong materials are preferrable. It is also likely to encounter UV exposure and plenty of rainfall! For that reason, the material needs to be able to cope with high levels of moisture and rapidly changing temperatures. Some composites and aluminium decking options, for example, may become too hot to walk on in the summer months. Timber, on the other hand, has a much lower thermal conductivity.
Find out more: How Does Temperature Affect Wood?
What is the Best Wood for Decking?
Oak is a popular choice for decking because of its robustness and aesthetically pleasing colour. It is a hardwood and has a reasonable dimensional stability but can move slightly if exposed to moisture. As a result, if using oak for your decking project, it’s important to leave a larger gap between the boards.
European Redwood Treated Timber (NORclad Brunnea or NORclad Lite)
Timber can be treated in various ways to boost its longevity and stability. This can either be done using something like our Brunnea treatment which impregnates the wood with a blend of preservative and Brunnea pigment. This lends the wood greater protection against fungal decay and insect attack.
A popular choice for decking, European Redwood is a moderately durable softwood. It has a moderate dimensional stability and provides a reasonable level of strength and hardness. More than that, it allows you to create an attractive smooth finish for your decking project.
Another option is Thermowood, like Adobo’s thermally modified timber – one of our partner products. Wood heat treated in this manner changes the chemical and physical properties of the timber, making it more stable and durable without the use of chemical agents.
See more: The Ultimate Guide to Thermowood
Though technically a softwood, Siberian Larch is strong and dense. It is a slow growing species, and performs just like a hardwood – if not better – making it a cost effective alternative. It has a natural resistance to rot (heartwood only), movement due to moisture ingress, and fungal attack, though is still slightly less stable than some hardwood options and treated timber.
Canadian Western Red Cedar
Canadian Western Red Cedar is also a softwood but is more resistant and durable than UK grown varieties. It has a low shrinkage factor and performs better in terms of dimensional stability than other coniferous woods which can warp and twist. Despite this, as it is a softwood, it needs to be carefully installed as it can be prone to splitting and bruising from impact damage, or high footfall.
How Much Does Timber Decking Cost?
If you’re embarking on a timber decking project, achieving the best finish for the lowest price is going to be high on your list of priorities. The cost of your decking will depend upon the species you choose, the size and complexity of the design, and the ongoing, long term maintenance requirements. Softwoods are fast growing and tend to be cheaper, but hardwoods provide greater durability. For guidance specific to your project, get in touch with our friendly team and we’ll be happy to provide a tailored quote.
How Long Does Timber Decking Last?
The lifespan of your decking will depend on a number of factors, most critically the species of timber you choose to work with. Softwoods typically are less long-lasting than their hardwood counterparts, but with the right maintenance and optional treatments, they can look great for decades to come. If longevity is highly important for the project in question, a treated wood can have a lifespan of around 50 years. Whatever the timber you choose, though, regular treatment, maintenance, and no direct ground contact can extend the lifespan of your decking.
High Quality Timber Decking Supplier
NORclad machine timber decking from our full range of wood species, enabling the creation of modern, highly attractive outdoor areas. With a range of options to choose from including non-slip inserts and bespoke profiles, we have helped a range of clients bring their visions to life.
Get in touch to talk through your project!
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