Non-slip decking is a great way to make use of your garden all year round. Not only can it be customised and personalised, but it also allows you to create alluring and safe outdoor spaces. Many people choose garden decking to create functional areas for families whilst some just prefer it to a traditional garden.
Softwood and hardwood have their own individual qualities so it’s important to consider what the space will be used for when it comes to choosing the best timber for decking. We’ve compiled a comprehensive analysis of the two, to help guide your decision.
Softwood and hardwood
Hardwood timber comes from trees that are slower to mature. Oak and Beech are just two examples of hardwood trees you might find in the UK. They’re made up of a more complex structure and will lose their leaves in autumn and regrow them in the warmer months. They’re more often found in temperate countries where they will only shed occasionally.
Softwood trees are much faster growing and in great supply. They’re coniferous and retain their needles all year round. Some examples are Pine, Redwood, and Cedar.
Price will most likely be one of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to choosing the timber for your non-slip decking. Due to its fast-growing nature, softwood is widely available meaning it has a lower price than hardwood. Hardwood’s complex structure makes it more difficult to process. When combined with how long it can take a hardwood tree to grow, you can justify the higher price.
Other pricing factors may also influence your decision. For example, softwood decking will need treating or staining. It will also depend on where you are building your garden decking and on what type of surface. Will you need to prepare your ground? There are extra costs to consider but, ultimately, adding non-slip decking to your home can add value to a property.
Durability and ease of maintenance
In terms of their durability, softwoods are generally less dense which makes them more susceptible to moisture and rot. However, if the wood is treated and sealed before the decking installation, you can improve its resistance to bad weather. Bear in mind that softwood decking will need annual maintenance to ensure it keeps its look and durability. Most softwood timber decking boards will have a 15-to-20-year lifespan.
Whilst hardwood decking boards require less maintenance than their softwood counterparts, it’s still advisable to do so. Softwood or hardwood decking boards are still timber. This natural material is likely to weather and age naturally, so staining, oiling, and cleaning your deck as needed will help to keep it looking fresh.
Hardwood decking is known for its longevity. Woods like Yellow Balau and Cumaru are renowned for their water resistance and their stability and can last for up to 50 years. For the most part, it can be left alone and will uphold its robustness. The average life span for a piece of hardwood decking is from 30 to 50 years.
Look and feel
Look will no doubt be a priority when choosing the best non-slip decking. A garden is an extension of a person’s home. So, the look and feel of it needs to reflect that. As well as coming in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and heights, the wood you choose will have the most noticeable difference.
Hardwood decking is more comparable to having an indoor floor outside. It’s typically smoother due to its more complex structure. The shades tend to be dark with a much warmer tone. These can be anything from a brown tone to a darker, golden brown. Hardwood decking is also unlikely to need staining unless you’re after a different look for your garden.
Softwoods are typically a much lighter shade of timber decking. When treated it has a pale green tinge to the wood. Just like a tan, after a few weeks outdoors, it will turn more golden. If you choose to use a stain, then you can make the wood much darker, even closer to a hardwood shade. With softwood, you have more options to customise it.
When you should use each
It’s good to think about what you will be using your garden for when considering the best timber for decking. Will it be exposed to the elements? Will it be a high-traffic area? For example, if you have a swimming pool or a hot tub, hardwood generally has better moisture resistance.
How heavily will your deck be used? For the average household, softwood decking is perfectly suitable and durable for an average amount of use. If your deck will need to withstand heavy foot traffic and will see lots of use, then consider hardwood.
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