“How do I choose between hardwood decking or softwood decking?” is a commonly asked question. With considerable differences in the price of hardwood decking and softwood decking, it’s easy to see why people often labour over this decision.
Generally speaking, timber (or lumber as it’s sometimes called), is split into two main types: hardwood and softwood. Hardwood timber, which is used for hardwood decking is sourced from slow growing trees, which are often referred to as broadleaved trees. Softwood timber, which is used for softwood decking comes from faster growing, evergreen or coniferous trees. Commonly used hardwoods for decking are: ipe, teak, iroko and cumaru. The most commonly used softwood for decking is pine.
Apart from taking a longer time to be produced (by nature), hardwoods are more difficult to process than softwoods. This is another reason why softwood decking is a lower cost option than hardwood decking.
When it comes to choosing the most suitable decking option for your decking project, the questions you should really be asking yourself are:
- How durable is the option I’m considering? Durability is really important when it comes to choosing the right decking for your project.
- Which option will stand up best to the conditions in my garden? Because your decking (of course) is going to be outside 24/7, you need to be sure to choose an option which will stand up to the outdoor conditions all year round.
- How will the option I choose look, both immediately on installation, and after it has weathered? If you’re looking for a short term “look good” solution, it may well be that a budget option will work just fine. If however, you’re looking for a long-term, investment decking solution, then there’s no doubt that investing in a better quality of wood will pay dividends.
In relation to each of these important decking questions, hardwood decking will outperform softwood decking every time. In order to explain, because hardwood decking is made from wood that is grown slowly, in tropical conditions, it is an extremely durable and hard wearing decking solution, no matter the outdoor environment.
Although softwood decking is undoubtedly a cheaper, more economical decking solution, if you are investing in decking for the long term there is little doubt that hardwood decking will prove more economical long term. Although softwood decking will look great when you first install it, it will typically start to show real signs of decay after a couple of years. Hardwood decking, on the other hand, with a bit of maintenance, will last for many years. In fact some varieties will even start to look better as they age.