1. Material: What's It Made Of?
High-performance composite decking
The ultimate in garden decking, high-performance composite is wrapped in a tough-as-nails finish that keeps the beauty in, and the work out.
- Soap-and-water maintenance
- Fade, stain, scratch and mould resistant
- Natural timber grain finish and rich colour
- Fade and stain warranties
- Often costlier board-for-board
PVC (vinyl) decking
All plastic material with no organic content makes it low-maintenance.
- Stain, scratch, and mould resistant
- Low maintenance
- Finished look without painting
- Tends to squeak and get chalky
- Not earth-friendly
- Costlier board-for-board
Early-generation composite decking
Your first-generation timber-alternative board. Part timber, part plastic, all easygoing.
- Won't rot or splinter
- A great, durable value
- Can fade and stain
- Prone to mold and mildew
- Requires periodic cleaning with deck wash
- Susceptible to scratches
For the purist, a timber deck is real and natural, with a pleasing heft.
- Traditional, one-with-nature feel
- Affordable board-for-board
- Easy to work with, easy to source
- Rots, splits, swells, twists, fades
- Contributes to deforestation
- One word: splinters
- Pressure-treating chemicals are toxic
- Requires painting, staining or sealing
How Hard Is Installation?
The cost of building a deck can be 20-50% labour, so it’s important to consider whether or not this is a DIY project, or one best left to the pros.
Some of the hidden costs may surprise you, however. For instance, composites are as easy to handle as timber and usually require no special tools, while PVC is more difficult to customise.
How Much Upkeep Are We Talking?
Beyond the initial premium cost of composite decking, the cost of maintaining, replacing and simply hating the mess other products can turn into is worth a run through the calculator.
Often, in five to ten years time, the relative costs (think powerwashing, waterseal, stain, weekend-filling chores) even out.
Lots Of Design Options?
Some materials enable customisable design options—everything from curves to multiple colours and timber grain patterns—while others are more limited in scope.
When choosing a material for your project, it’s helpful to keep your priorities in mind: are you looking for great design options, the best value, or maybe a product that offers a balance of both.
What's It Worth When I Move?
Some products add more value and joy to a home than others. The more carefree and eco-friendly the deck, the more attractive it is to potential home buyers…that is, if you can ever dream of moving.