There’s no doubt about it: outdoor decks can transform a home. They look amazing, are great for entertaining, feel nice underfoot and aren’t hugely expensive to install. It’s probably no surprise that when homeowners consider a deck extension, many opt for timber as the material. But as today’s construction trends evolve, is it still the best option?
Consider all the costs
Many building experts say no. "Timber decking is really expensive to install, so if you are going to do it, you really must ensure that you look after it,” says Wayne Critchley, a builder with over two decades of experience.
While traditional timber can add a 'natural look', it’s also very high-maintenance. The average treated pine deck lasts around 10-15 years, and without roof coverage over it, you may need to factor in a quarterly maintenance plan to ensure the timber is protected and warp or splinter. That might not be practical if you’re a busy homeowner who wants a no-fuss, low-maintenance outdoor space – and more time to put your feet up.
Other options include durable, man-made composite materials HardieDeck™ – which can be sealed in range of contemporary tinted sealants to match the colour of your home. Here are five good reasons to consider a timber alternative if you’re planning an outdoor makeover.
1. The maintenance
We’ve all got busy lifestyles and maintaining a timber deck can quickly become a chore. Your average timber deck requires painting and staining on a yearly basis – more often if it’s completely open to the elements – plus pressure-washing and resealing every couple of years. Wayne recommends you coat a timber deck year-round, otherwise it will likely rot.
If this isn't how you want to spend your weekends, look for a low-maintenance option like HardieDeck which requires zero maintenance once installed.
Is your outdoor area ready for summer? Check out our price and size estimator and start planning your HardieDeck makeover.
2. The durability
While timber looks good at first, it’s prone to weathering and over time, the boards are likely to break down, rot, warp or weaken – which can be hazardous and cost thousands to replace. Similarly, if you have a deck built around a pool or spa, you can’t stop the timber from being exposed to repeated cycles of hot sun and soaking from pool water – which can lead to more rapid fading and rotting. In comparison, HardieDeck is designed to withstand such damage and stay strong as it ages – it’s resistant to moisture and termite damage and won’t warp or splinter, even over decades of hot Aussie summers.
3. Bushfire-prone areas
If you’re in a bushfire zone, timber decks can be a hazard – they don’t stand up to the risk of fire. With the threat of a bushfire said to be higher than average this summer, it pays to have peace of mind knowing your outdoor area isn't a combustible hazard. You may even be required by law to choose compliant, fire-resistant materials in the construction of your home or any renovation to it.
When looking for bushfire compliant materials, check the BAL rating which dictates both the construction methods and materials used in bushfire prone areas. HardieDeck can be installed in bushfire areas up to BAL-FZ, so you can still enjoy outdoor living even if you live in a bushfire-prone area.
Ready to renovate your deck? Find your local HardieDeck installer.
4. Low-set decks
When building a timber deck you have to factor in good airflow beneath your deck and a 5mm gap between the boards so the deck can dry out after rain – if you don’t do this, the timber is more likely to rot. That can have limitations in how you design your deck, especially if you are working with a smaller space. In comparison, a composite material such as HardieDeck can be used for urban decks that are low to the ground, thanks to a concealed fixing system, which helps increases ventilation and drainage. The new base jointer used to fix the boards in place creates gaps for ventilation and drainage, and the gaps hidden from view by continuous 3000mm long base jointer for a clean finish.
It can be a hard decision to choose the decking material that’s right for you, but it’s important to factor in your lifestyle, how much maintenance you have time for and the long-term costs of the materials you choose in any renovation.