If you’ve decided to renovate your garden but you’re working with a tight budget, then you might be looking for a decking material that offers the best value for money. When browsing for garden decking, you will come across a variety of materials including plastic, timber and composite decking, all of which have different characteristics and price points. In this blog, we’ll briefly cover the pros and cons of each decking material to determine which decking offers the best value for money.
Plastic deck boards
Plastic decking is a widely available, low-cost option that can be appealing if you only have a small budget for your garden design. Plastic deck boards are non-permeable, so they’re unlikely to rot and they won’t require staining or sealing like your average timber decking.
While these mass-produced deck boards might seem like a perfectly good idea initially, they do have some long-term drawbacks. So, if you’re thinking about using plastic decking in your garden, here are a few things you should bear in mind:
- Plastic decking is not eco-friendly, harmful chemicals are released in the atmosphere when it’s created and when it degrades.
- Plastic decking has a tendency to break, crack and split after only a short period because it’s flimsier than other types of decking.
- Plastic decking doesn’t have the most ‘natural’ appearance. You should bear this in mind if you want to create a natural-looking garden design.
So, is plastic decking good value for money? It honestly depends if you like the look of it and how long you plan to have it in your garden. If you’re happy to choose a cheap option that might only last for 2-5 years, then plastic decking might be for you.
After it’s been installed for a few years, you’ll probably need to replace some of your deck boards, so plastic decking doesn’t really offer the best value for money long-term. If you’re looking for something that’s more long-lasting and eco-friendly, there are definitely better decking options on the market.
Timber is the most popular decking material on the market because it comes in at a medium price-point and has a lot of different benefits. Made of real wood, it has a charming appearance that complements most garden designs, its generally better for the environment than plastic because it’s not man-made, and it can last a long time if it’s looked after.
Despite this, timber decking requires the most up-keep of any decking material which will cost you time and money in the long-run. If you’re thinking about adding timber decking to your garden, consider these points:
- While timber decking is better for the environment than plastic, it does contribute to deforestation, meaning it’s not the best eco-friendly choice on the market.
- Without stains and sealants, your decking will fade and rot as it’s damaged by rain water and the sun.
- The stains and sealants need to be applied once a year (minimum) so this is an additional cost that you should factor in to your decision.
Overall, timber decking does offer better value for money that plastic decking, but it does have some ongoing costs that quickly add up. If you’re not willing to continually buy and apply stains and seals then you’ll have to replace your decking every 5-10 years. For that reason, timber decking does not offer the best value for money.
The last decking material we’re looking at today is composite decking. For those of you who haven’t come across composite decking before, it’s a material that’s created by combining wood fibers and polymer resin. The resulting deck boards offer all the benefits of timber decking and plastic decking but very few of the drawbacks. For example:
- Like plastic decking, composite decking is highly water-resistant, meaning you won’t have to stain or seal it.
- Like wood decking, composite decking has a beautiful natural finish that makes it appropriate for all garden designs.
- The way that composite decking is made means scraps of wood and plastic can be recycled, making this decking a good eco-friendly option.
But is composite decking good value for money? Well, composite decking does tend to be pricier than both plastic and timber decking in the short term, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. While you might spend a bit more money initially, you’ll find that composite decking has a much longer lifespan than timber and plastic decking (some ranges can last for up to 30 years!) so you’re guaranteed to save money in the long-run.
Hopefully this blog will help you choose the right decking for your garden renovation. If you’re happy to compromise on quality to save money, plastic decking is for you. If you want better quality and don’t mind paying for the continuous upkeep, choose timber. Or, if you’d like the best of both worlds and don’t mind paying slightly more up-front, go for composite decking.