Buyers' guide to decking

KRISTEN WATTS
Picture: Feast Watson

The popularity of decking shows no signs of waning, particularly because of its natural beauty and texture, according to John O'Neil, from Pine Timber Products.

"Decking really has a nice feel to it," he said. "It also adds interest to a garden because of the lines and timber decking can blend more seamlessly with the rest of the yard because it has a natural quality."

Home Base Expo general manager Gino Premici agreed that decking was the product of choice in WA gardens.

"WA's climate is perfectly suited to resort-style living and timber decking generally nails the look in terms of its richness, warmth and feel underfoot," he said.

"While it requires regular care and maintenance to stop it from warping or buckling, the natural beauty of timber and its ever-changing properties is appealing to many people."

Mr Premici said timber decking also worked beautifully with other natural materials such as exposed stone.

"When you use it with other materials you can create multi-layered landscapes that charm and impress," he said.

MATERIALS

Timber

Mr O'Neil said that while treated pine was once the material of choice, recently hardwoods and composites had started to grow in popularity.

Treated pine was still a great affordable option but hardwoods and composite materials tended to last longer and look better.

"Some people just want a decking that will look good and give them a decent length of service," he said. "A treated pine decking will do that admirably and it is very cost-effective."

He said more up-market options included hardwoods such as batu or merbau, while composite decks were even better because they were hard- wearing and required less maintenance than timber.

Mr O'Neil said natural timber decking lasted longer if it was properly maintained and regularly oiled.

"Some people do criticise timber for not being durable but if it is under cover and properly maintained it will last a long time, particularly if it is installed correctly to begin with," he said.

"If it is not under cover, it just needs proper maintenance."

Composite products

WCT Distributors' Adrian Mason said composite decking was created by combining plastic with timber sawdust and extruding it into decking strips.

"One of the big benefits of composite decking is that it is environmentally friendly and no trees are cut down to make our product," he said.

"It also does not need to be sanded, painted or oiled, ever. And it is termite resistant."

It could also be installed using a system which eliminated the need for visible screws.

Mr O'Neil said that while many people claimed composite decking was maintenance free, this was not entirely true.

"If you spill red wine on it, you will need to mop it up properly," he said. "It is virtually maintenance free but you still have to care for it."

Oz Deck's Marcus Wearing- Smith said there were many types of composite decking material available and all were slightly different products.

"It is important to ask questions because, like anything, the quality will vary," he said.