Hardwood vs. Softwood Decking – Advantages and Disadvantages

Last update: 3 weeks ago

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Is hardwood decking better than softwood? A common question anyone who plans to build a deck in their garden thinks about. Plenty of factors that concern both types of decking boards are equally essential to consider before making your final decision on which one will suit your needs better.

Therefore, we have prepared a detailed article related to the overall pros and cons of your new decking that you should know. Keep reading if you’d like to find out what are the best types of decking boards for your new garden structure.

What is hardwood decking made of?

Hardwood decking boards are usually made from slow-growing trees, such as ash or oak, for example, as well as a number of other broadleaved trees. They have a more complex structure and many of the species are deciduous. These types of trees are more difficult to process and the fact that it takes a really long time for the trees to grow is what makes hardwood decking the most expensive option on the market.

It may not be the most budget-friendly option, but it will definitely pay off in time. Hardwood deckings tend to preserve their appearance throughout the years. In fact, they can even look better in a few years’ time. In addition to that, hardwood decking’s lifespan can reach up to 50 years, if well-maintained.

Advantages and disadvantages of hardwood decking

Even though it comes with many benefits, hardwood decking has some drawbacks, too. For further information on the most essential pros and cons of hardwood decking, keep reading below.

Advantages of hardwood decking

  • High quality.
  • Durability – Your new decking can last for a really long time.
  • Design options are limitless. It has a natural look which can even get better with time.
  • Hardwood decking is more fire-resistant.
  • Resistant to rotting, warping and splitting.

Disadvantages of hardwood decking

  • More difficult to install due to its hardness.
  • Price – Hardwood decking is a really expensive material.
  • Grows slowly in tropical conditions.
  • Requires regular maintenance.

What is softwood decking made of?

In general, softwood decking is made of coniferous or evergreen trees, which are fast-growing, and that includes spruce and pine. However, softwood timber should be well-treated before being used in order to protect it from fungal diseases and various insects.

As a matter of fact, most deckings are made from softwood boards because they are easy to work with, widely available and are also a more affordable material. Softwood decking is an ideal budget-friendly option you can go for if you need a fast solution and it will look great right after installation. Yet, it will keep its attractive look for a couple of years only before it starts to lose it.

In terms of longevity, pressure-treated softwood can last for a really long time as well. However, if not treated well, softwood decking’s lifespan can last for about 15 years.

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Pros and cons of softwood decking

Softwood decking is the most popular material that homeowners prefer for many reasons. It’s got plenty of significant benefits as well as drawbacks which you will find listed below. If this is the type of decking material you’d like to use, here is what you should know about it:

Pros of softwood decking

  • Among the advantages of softwood decking is its low price. It is known for being the cheapest decking material on the market.
  • It’s made of fast-growing trees, which makes it more eco-friendly than hardwood decking.
  • It’s easy to install and work with.
  • If you decide to go for pressure-treated wood, it can have a really long lifespan.

Cons of softwood decking

Just like most things have their downsides, so does softwood decking. Even though they are not too many, the disadvantages of softwood decking unite important factors that can help you make your final decision on which material to choose.

  • Not appropriate for high-traffic areas because it can fade over time.
  • Its low density makes it a weaker material.
  • Softwood decking is durable, too, but not as much as hardwood.
  • Regular maintenance is necessary. Make sure to clean it well twice a year.
  • It’s a short-term solution.

Hardwood and softwood decking maintenance

No matter what type of decking you decide to install in your garden, regular maintenance will be necessary. Both hardwood and softwood deckings require regular care, so here is how you should treat them:

  • Move all of the furniture or your barbeque so that you can clean the entire surface without moving things around all the time. However, don’t be tempted to drag the furniture along your decking as it may scratch it and ruin its appearance.
  • If you are using a new type of deck cleaning detergent, test it on a small area first to check how it will perform.
  • Clean it well twice a year, brushing it with a stiff broom before pressure washing it.

Having a deck in your backyard can increase your property’s value. It’s a great way to make the most out of a garden and creates space for entertaining outdoors. No matter if you go for softwood or hardwood decking, make sure to arm yourself with knowledge about the advantages and disadvantages of both types to ensure you’ve made the best choice for yourself.

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Image Source: Shutterstock | zhu difeng

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Thanks for sharing post.
    I prefer a softwood decking, I think that hardwood is not necessarily better than softwood,
    And if you are new to building garden decks, i agree with author that softwood is easier to work with as it is more pliable.
    And the most important – softwoods are much cheaper than hardwoods. So, if you are working to a tight budget, softwood is the obvious choice.

  • This post is very useful for anyone trying to decide between soft or hardwood decking. There is another alternative, which is composite decking. The boards are made from a wood polymer which can use recycled wood and polyethylene. These boards can come with a 25 year guarantee. This is not a cheap option as the boards are of a similar price to hardwood. As a garden designer I generally choose composite boards when a deck is in the shade and would tend to become slippery. However, if boards are made from recycled materials they can be kind to the environment as well.

  • Do consider Cedar decking, whilst it is costly like hardwood, it is very easy to work (like softwood), but has natural rot resistance so is long lasting, and weathers to a nice silvery colour. I have used Cedar and Oak, and would definitely choose Cedar of the two, the oak weathers to a less attractive black.

  • Base on my own experience the hardwood is one of the most quality materials while using for decking because hardwood is a long time together.

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