hardwood deck finished with D1 Pro

Hardwood Decking Vs Composite Decking

Having a garden deck has now become extremely popular and due to its popularity, a variety of materials are now available to suit everyone.

Hardwood decking was the number 1 material for many years, but as times have changed so have people’s needs and budgets.

To get a fair comparison of the two, we need to look at the 5 most popular questions people ask when deciding on which material to use.

  1. Cost
  2. Aesthetic
  3. Use
  4. Lifespan & maintenance
  5. Environmental impact

Let’s start with what is arguably the most import comparison; the cost.

1) The cost

composite wood decking

If cost is the most important thing for you, then you may opt for using hardwood, as composite decking is usually more expensive. The difference in the price tag can be smaller depending on what type of wood, finish, cut etc you decide on, but generally speaking, composite wood is more expensive.

If you really want to keep costs down, you can opt to use softwoods. Just be cautious as there are a few cons to using them. You can read more information about the difference between wood types on our previous blog post.

1.5 Why is composite wood more expensive than hardwood?

There are a few reasons as to why composite wood is generally more expensive than hardwood. Mostly it is due to the amount of work that has to go into creating each board.

For hardwood, generally speaking, the wood simply needs to be cut and sawn before being sold. Composite wood, on the other hand, is made via a more complicated process.

Composite wood is made out of a mix of wood and plastic (which is usually recycled). Putting these two materials together isn’t an “easy” job and require work and machinery to be able to create them.

We go into more detail about the environmental impact below.

2) Aesthetic

hardwood decking with seating area

The aesthetic is an important step in the decision-making process. If having a really realistic wooden look is important to you, you will probably be leaning more towards using hardwood. It is real wood after all!

However, you can now get very realistic looking composite decking that looks just like real wood. Be aware though that these boards are more expensive, so you may need to look at your budget before deciding.

Hardwood tends to change colour over time and may even slightly warp due to weathering. This is normal for a natural product to do and some people like that it does this as it gives the deck ‘character’.

If you are after a more simplistic or contemporary look, composite wood may be preferred.

We go into more detail into the maintenance below.

3) Use

hardwood decking with table and chairs

What you are planning on using the deck for can influence the type of wood to consider using. For instance, if you are planning on using it as an area for children to play, composite decking may be a better choice for you. This is because composite boards are made up of sawdust, wood chip or wood fibres and so are finer in consistency. They are then mixed with plastics and pressure treated. This creates a very strong and durable board that will not splinter, meaning your children will be safe playing on it.

On the other hand, if you are planning on using your deck for dining, you may opt to use hardwood you will be spending most of your time sitting at the table on chairs.

4) Lifespan & Maintenance

maintaining a composite deck with Compo-Clean

Generally speaking, both the lifespan and maintenance of composite wood are better than hardwood.

Once composite decking is installed, it usually only needs washing a few times a year and that’s it. There are products designed specifically for use on composite decking, such as Compo-Clean which will clean the surface in 5 mins.

Hardwood, on the other hand, will need to have a protective finish applied and if not applied correctly or properly maintained, you could have to repeat this process every year.

However, if you use a premium product such as Textrol, the maintenance is easy. Once established, a single application of Textrol every other year will be sufficient to refresh the natural beauty of the wood and maintain the protection.

We would recommend a periodic clean between applications with Net-trol to remove dirt and contamination.

The main lifespan limitation for both hardwood and composite wood is having a deck frame that is subject to damage. The most common way for the frame to fail is from having poor drainage underneath the deck, meaning it will eventually become water damaged and fail.

There are many things that will vary the life span of your deck such as maintenance, environment, usage etc so be sure to take all of these things into consideration before making a decision.

5) Environmental Impact

hands holding a tree sapling

This consideration has become more and more popular over the last 10 years or so with people wanting to reduce their carbon footprint.

We think this is a very important thing to think about. Although most hardwoods are cheaper, they could be costing the planet more.

If you decide to go down the hardwood route, do your research on the company and make sure the hardwood is being sourced legally and ethically. We also recommend making sure they are PEFC and FSC certified.

Most composite wood manufacturers produce zero waste, or even better are ‘carbon negative’. We have all heard about zero waste, but what do these terms really mean?

Zero waste means that nothing in the manufacturing process is thrown away to be put into landfill, incinerators or the ocean and that no water waste is created. Everything is either used or put back into the process to be recycled.

Carbon negative means that the manufacturing process of a product actually removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere rather than adding to it, creating a carbon negative product.


So there we have it, this is our comparison between hardwood and composite wood decking. If you are still unsure or have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Do you have any further tips or advice? Please feel free to leave them in the comments below – We love hearing from you!

Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

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