Composite vs timber: Is timber really worth the cost and effort?


Whether you’re looking to upgrade a tired looking deck or fencing area, or you’re planning on installing a new structure from scratch; weighing up the choice of different building materials can be tough.

The warm and solid appeal of timber has always been a favourite with homeowners, but as the decking and fencing world evolves and other materials break into the market, we can't help but question- stick with wood, or make the leap to composites?

Despite timber being the traditional option, it hasn’t always been the most practical and cost-effective one. With the man-made boards of composite decking offering less maintenance and fuss, and higher quality composite materials on the market, like NewTechWood Australia composite decking, it’s easy to see why the debate exists. To help you make an educated decision about what’s best for you and your home, we've weighed up the pros and cons of both.

Timber decking and fencing:

Pros

There’s oodles of reasons why timber still remains one of the most popular options today for decking and fencing construction. Some of these include:

  • Timber decking and fencing has the potential to save you money, but only in the short term.
  • It's a very versatile material – one of the biggest benefits of timber is its traditional and rustic appeal. This can be achieved through staining and luxurious paint jobs to create different tones, textures and styles.
  •  It’s an easy material to work with – timber can be cut, shaped, sanded back, stained or painted depending on what you want to achieve and what your budget is.
  • Room to renovate – if you get tired of the initial appeal of timber, it’s easy to change it down the track.
  • Timber is naturally recurring and therefore a renewable source.

Cons

On the flip side though, timber decking and fencing can certainly have its drawbacks:

  • To keep the timber looking polished and neat, there’s a lot of maintenance required. Painting and staining the wood yearly can add to the upkeep and labour costs making timber fencing costly in the long run. You’ll also be required to pressure wash and reseal the wood every year or two. The upkeep side of things can not only be expensive, but exhausting for owners too.
  • Whilst timber is classified as a renewable source, it still involves the cutting down of trees. For the environmentally conscious it’s important to note that not all timber manufactures practice sustainable methods. Research should be undertaken before purchasing from a company to ensure they're aligned with environmentally friendly values.
  • Even with regular maintenance, timber decking and fencing is prone to weathering. Over time the wood will break down, warp, rot or weaken and timber boards often need to be replaced to keep their appeal.

Composite decking and fencing:

Pros

The man-made boards of composite decking have boomed in popularity over the years because of their long life span and little to no maintenance required. Here’s a few benefits that make composite decking and fencing a great option:

  • There’s multiple types of composite decking so if you choose the right one for your fencing and decking needs, you’ll be able to have a material that looks and feels exactly like timber, but without the drawbacks and upkeep.
  • Composite decking and fencing won’t age overtime. Composite materials are resistant to fading and warping, so you won’t need to put effort into keeping decking and fencing looking good.
  • No annual or semi-annual finishing, staining and painting to be done.
  • Some types of composite decking and fencing are wind and UV resistant.
  • Composite materials are durable and don’t require special tools to install.

Cons of composite decking and fencing

Whilst the composite industry is evolving every day, the biggest drawbacks of these man-made boards include:

  • Initially they're more expensive than 'cheaper' timber alternatives. As its quality is on par with the expensive, better quality timber options it works out more cost-effective in the long run.
  • Not all composite materials are created equal and like timber, you can get your fair share of low quality products. The lower priced composite decking and fencing typically won’t offer the warm appeal of timber and won’t look as natural as some homeowners would like. Opt for higher quality composite materials like new tech wood composite to avoid this issue.
  • Unlike timber products, composite materials cannot be stripped back, painted or stained to change its appearance. If you make the wrong choice with timber, it’s easy to re-do it to suit the rest of your home, but you’ll want to pick the right stain or finish for your composite decking and fencing.

Which material wins the battle?

Composite boards are comprised of waste wood and recycled plastic, so you’re getting the best of both worlds. Durable decking and fencing solutions, with the warm appeal of timber and without the hassle of keeping it looking new. When utilised properly with higher quality materials, composite decking and fencing has overtaken traditional timber over the years because of its little to no maintenance properties and natural charm.

Although both have their own unique selling points, in our eyes the drawbacks of timber seem to outweigh its benefits. As composite materials continue to evolve, homeowners will have access to maintenance and labour free structures that will give them the practicality and look and feel they crave for their home decking and fencing.

Author bio:

This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for NewTechWood Australia – a pioneer in the development and manufacture of outdoor composite wood decking, fencing, wall cladding, screening and more.

 

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