The variety of decking materials available on the market is extensive: traditional and economical softwoods; luxurious, knot-free hardwoods; durable modified woods and the emerging varieties of ‘composite’ products – which use a mixture of wood fibre, virgin and/or waste plastic and other additives. The Timber Decking & Cladding Association (TDCA) applauds innovation and sustainability but advises if you choose composite decking products, there are several points to consider. Individual recipes with varying percentages of key ingredients, result in differing performance – do your research. Be aware that most long service life warranties offered, are valid only if the product is installed and maintained to the manufacturers’ exact instructions. Unlike natural timber, recycling at the end of life is currently very limited. All decking surfaces require maintenance and to be kept free of dirt and debris – regardless of the material.
Deck substructure – posts, beams, joists, blocking/noggins and bracing – is just as important as the surface of your deck as it forms the foundation to the whole project. Pressure treated softwood is the go-to material for deck substructure components, but to ensure it is fit for purpose, it must be preservative pressure treated; TDCA recommends a Use Class 4 level of protection irrespective of whether the material is in ground contact or not. Be sure to demand proof of this when buying – if the supplier doesn’t know about the Use Class system of treatment, then investigate further.
Contact the TDCA to source DeckMark accredited products, suppliers and installers – for an independent verification of quality.