The improvement in composite decking over the last few years and the trend of sociable outdoor spaces has sparked a shift in the decking market. With many brands now able to boast anti-slip and anti-mould properties, composite decking is becoming a more popular choice with commercial properties and homeowners.
Unable to provide the same low-maintenance offering as composite, could timber decking become a thing of the past?
Elliotts Timber Products Manager, Bob Tee, suggests, “Customers are going for composite over traditional wood because it requires so little maintenance once installed, has very good slip resistance, and looks good for many years.”
Bob continues, “Wooden decks really need treating annually to keep them in good condition.”
“Several of our (composite decking) contracts are for commercial premises- due to its high non-slip qualities, but also lots of developers and householders appreciate its 'kerb appeal', especially on coastal properties”, says Bob.
British made Millboard boasts one of the highest anti-slip ratings, having been inspired by shoe soles. Both Millboard and American-owned Trex are also resistant to rot, mould, scratching and fading, unlike normal timber decking.
London’s first floating park in Paddington chose to install Millboard with landscaping designer, Tony Woods, stating its non-slip properties and slight flexibility as winning factors.
With a global emphasis on environmental responsibility, composite decking brands are committed to creating green and environmentally friendly products.
Trex deck boards and made of 95% recycled materials, saving over 180 million kilos of plastic and timber scrap from landfills every year. Millboard follows suit, boasting of a CO2 footprint that matches that of a kilo of bananas.
Although composite decking can offer a wide range of low-maintenance and environmental benefits, the price in comparison to timber can be 6x greater.
So, whilst a composite deck may be viable for big commercial properties, the average homeowner may struggle to justify the cost.
Can composite decking conquer timber and become viable for all markets? Bob predicts so.
"Over the next few years, sales will continue to grow in all markets, and as a result, it is likely that we'll start to see an increased amount of composite decking choices enter the market.
"This year so far, over 86% of our decking sales are composite compared with just under 14% for timber."
And Bob expects that this will continue to grow.
"Growth will be led by more people seeing the product in situ on new developments and the long-lasting look that is virtually maintenance free."
Companies like Millboard and Trex go to great lengths to produce composite that could be mistaken for real wood, although they will never truly replicate the feel of timber.
With a demand for low-maintenance outdoor spaces and an ever-growing composite decking market, it is possible that timber decking could become a thing of the past?
Bob comments, "Whilst there is a huge demand for composite decking, there’s still a lot of love for real wood. Although composite companies have done well to create a timber look, nothing quite matches the authenticity of the real thing and we see a lot of self-build and renovation projects still using timber."
To find out more about using composite decking or timber in your next project, fill out the enquiry form and a member of our Sales Hub will be in touch.