We are renewing our deck and not sure whether to use timber or plastic
Our last house was in a fire-risk area. We wanted a wood deck and were told, forget it, it would never be approved. The idea of a tile or iron grid deck didn't appeal much. Then our builder told us that the council had already approved merbau decking on someone else's house. We were good to go. It's a very hard wood, fire resistant (certainly not fire proof) and does the job. Just try to make sure it's got a sustainable tag with it.
The other alternative is some of the eco product, which looks pretty good, doesn't need maintenance, and is partly (as I understand it) recycled timber and milk bottles.
I prefer real wood, but that's a personal choice.
Are you surrounded by fields or trees in the country, then use a fire resistant product.
If you are ageing, or disabled, use a manufactured material.
If neither of these, use what appeals to you, but timber should be certified sustainable.
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Hardwood Timber Decking or Composite Decking?
Timber such as a Australian hardwood would be a preferred choice.
Merbau leaches a lot of tannins so can stain brickwork, concrete or paving if the deck is elevated above these surfaces. Being imported it requires transport, limited local jobs and some may not be sustainable managed. The colour of Merbau is however fantastic. It is also very hard and relatively fire retardant (as is spotted gum, tallowwood, etc..)
Tallowwood, spotted gum, etc. is a great choice. It supports local jobs, limited transport, sustainable managed, etc, etc..
Yes they need oiling but is that really a big problem as any house needs maintenance. Oiling a deck is easy and a hell of a lot easier than most other jobs around the house. More satisfying too..... Can always pay a painter to pressure clean and re-oil.
The composite boards are somewhat ok but have inherent problems as well. Some once scratched can't be fixed so the scratch is there for ever. Some need painting or staining the same as timber so no gain there apart from some being non combustable. All products need at least some sort of maintenance even just a scrub.
I have just seen a huge "timber look" deck go down (probably 15m x 10m). It looks like the real thing, it can be washed down and it won't rot in wet or dry conditions (take your pick depending on your location). The guy laying it said it was a bit more fiddly to put down then timber (the screw holes are hidden or something...they don't drill straight through like timber). For the commercial application I saw it in, it was ideal. I don't know if it would be hot underfoot during the day, but in the evenings it will be fine.
Modwood is Aussie made
if you want the most realistic looking man made decking option take a look at the Millboard decking. This has no timber fibre in it, will not rot, fade, splinter, expand and contract. All is needed is a hose down to remove any general dirt on the surface. Depending on what look you are after choose from either the Weathered range (3 colours) or the Enhanced grain range (6 colours).
Most recommended construction deck materials are 1) pressure-treated lumber (a classic hardwood look is a plus but this type of wood requires a lot of maintenance and can warp easily), 2) redwood (durable but more expensive), 3) composite (low maintenance but you’re limited as far as color options go) and 4) aluminum (most durable but also most costly). Read more
Timber or composite decking also depends on what area you live in, regards the climate and where your deck will be.
Merbau hardwood is an Indonesian timber that fares very well in Western Australia as the climate is hot and dry which tends to suit the Merbau. It can leech tannins, especially if wet, if not oiled straight after installation when these tannins are locked in.
We laid a Spotted Gum deck for clients in Perth a year ago that needs constant oiling, every two months, to withstand the severity of the sun. Spotted Gum looks lovely but being in Perth, it is better to be covered. However Merbau hardwood decks are more stable, durable and don't tend to twist or shrink as other timbers such as Jarrah, Batu, Spotted Gum and pine may do. Merbau is a hardwood we recommend to clients in they are unsure what timber to go for.
A timber deck fully exposed or beside a swimming pool will need more oil applications than one under a veranda or patio.
NexGen composite is a beautiful board manufactured in the USA that comes in various colours and is secret clipped. This is maintenance free other than a wash down with warm soapy water every now and again. Trex is also an American board that is highly recommended.
Millboard is a very good choice also and has a more of a natural look. This board is a bit more expensive than NexGen and Trex and looks great.
Cons for composite is that it does get hot if exposed to the sun however, timber will get hot too. From experience, its also better to lay your composite decking when the boards are cool, not too hot as they expand and contract length wise.
Composite is also scratch resistant but isn't scratch proof.
Things to consider before having your deck installed are
1) how much maintenance am I prepared to do to upkeep my deck?
2) Is my deck in a termite or fire prone area?
3) Do I need a council permit? (if it is 500 mm off the ground in which case you'll need balustrading)
4) What look am I going for? (Modern, natural, rustic or contemporary)
5) How much money am I willing to invest?
6) What material do I like better?
Whatever material you decide on, enjoy your deck. It will be a good investment for you and your family, and your property.