Home improvement manager discusses the future of timber decking in the UK

Kim J. Clark

While it may look like inflation and an unpredictable economy may hinder the UK housing market, the home improvement sector is projected to make favourable gains this year.

One thing we learnt during the pandemic is that people have a great interest in home remodelling. 

Adding decking boards is a classic way of enhancing the appearance of any residential property.

In addition to adding curb appeal, a wide deck is an ideal place for outdoor gatherings.

It can also boost the resale value of your property when it is time for you to sell. 

While there are so many decking options in the market today, timber and composite are two of the most popular.

Homeowners have to factor in costs, weather, ease of maintenance and general appearance before choosing the one that best compliments their space. 

Traditionally, timber decking has been the most widely used outdoor material due to its affordability and accessibility.

This has since changed. Composite decking is set to dominate the decking market with its increasing popularity. 

Lee Smith, marketing manager of CompositeWarehouse UK, one of the UK’s leading deck brands said: “Composite decking has become a popular choice due to its long-lasting appearance, low maintenance, eco-friendliness and resistance to scratch, stain, slip, fading and moisture.”

What is composite decking?

In the last 25 years, wood-plastic composite decking has grown by leaps and bounds.

It has witnessed an increased market share and has become a favourite of millions of homeowners. 

Smith explained: “Composite materials are manufactured from recycled wood parts (e.g. wood chips, flour and sawdust) and plastic (polymer matrix). This accounts for their strength and resilience.

“Because composite decking comes in a wide variety of colours and styles, homeowners have no need to stain or paint it to complement their home’s exterior. It is widely regarded as the best alternative to timber decking because of its long-lastingness, pest resistance and cost-effectiveness.”

Also, composite decking has other benefits, such as eco-friendliness and low maintenance. 

Why the consistent shift to composite decking?

Whether buying a new kettle, bedding or making an outdoor improvement, you need to pay attention to the longevity of your purchases. 

Since decking is an investment that is expected to last through the passage of time, it helps to choose materials that are ideally suited to your locality and way of life. 

Composite decking is seen as highly durable and is known to outlive most timber decking options, but is this the only reason for the consistent shift to composite decking?

Smith added: “Timber decking has numerous drawbacks and homeowners are starting to be aware of them, which is why they seek wood-plastic composite alternatives to ensure a secure and durable outdoor space”. 

Shrinking and splintering

Your deck will likely receive plenty of sunlight, so homeowners will have to be certain that their deck material can withstand the harsh British summer. 

Smith said: “Timber decking suffers extensive damage from heat and UV rays, which render them weak, leading them to splinter, split and shrink. For kids who love to play around outdoors without shoes, this can pose a significant danger. 

“For this reason, many homeowners prefer composite decking because they are splinter-resistant and are durable, safer alternatives for families. With composite decking, there’s no worry about blisters or cuts from splinters and costs associated with broken board replacement or repairs.”

Warping and rotting

The pool deck is a spot for relaxation and entertainment, so nobody wants to worry about how moisture can seriously damage their deck.

This is particularly common with timber decking.

Smith explained that timber decking is prone to decay and warp when exposed to moisture from outdoor pools, mould or rainfall.

He added: “Composite decking products, like CompositeWarehouse, are resistant to decay and moisture, making them a perfect option for pool environments or any area that is susceptible to frequent rainfall.”

Termite damage

Termite still poses a serious threat to timber.

Smith explained: “Termite and other pests feed on timber decking, degrading its structural integrity and making it unsafe for use. This can lead to exorbitant repair costs and the replacement of your deck.

“Homeowners prefer composite decking because of this. It is durable, resistant to termites and can save you from spending excess money on replacements and repairs. It’s ultimately a worry-free option.”

High maintenance

Timber decking is known for its high maintenance.

According to Smith, it requires routine re-staining and repairs since it is susceptible to damage from weather elements.

“Composite decking is perfect for homeowners that want to save time and money as it is low maintenance,” he added. 

The future of Timber decking

For hundreds of years, homeowners have relied on traditional timber decking, but composite decking has emerged as a modern-day replacement.

Smith affirms this idea as he explained: “Composite decking does not splinter, warp or discolour. It is not beset by challenges faced by timber decking. There is absolutely no need to incur high costs to increase the lifespan of composite decking. It is durable by design and is backed by a solid warranty.

“While natural, delicate earthy tones are definitely eye-catching, composite decking comes in various colours, styles and grains. Deck boards can be designed to resemble actual timber. Composite decking is also simple to install, with a hidden fixing technology that keeps the deck unimpaired. 

“An additional benefit to using composite decking is that it is eco-friendly at a time when worries over climate change are on the rise. Otherwise, the plastic it recycles would end up in a landfill or, God forbid, in the belly of a whale.”

Without sustainable practices, composite decking cannot replace timber as a popular choice for homeowners.

“The manufacturing process of WPC material is characterised by minimal waste and energy costs,” Smith concluded. 

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