Composite vs Natural Timber Decking: Pros and Cons

Various types of timber flooring showcasing differences in color, grain, and texture, perfect for home renovation and interior design choices.

Building the right tech stack is key

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How to choose the right tech stack for your company?

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What to consider when choosing the right tech stack?

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What are the most relevant factors to consider?

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What tech stack do we use at Technology?

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If you're planning to build a deck, one of the most important decisions you'll make is choosing the material. The debate between composite and natural timber decking has been going on for years, with both materials having their own advantages and disadvantages.

What Is Composite Decking?

Composite decking is a popular choice for homeowners looking for a low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood decking. By combining wood fibres and plastic, composite decking offers the aesthetic appeal of natural wood with added durability and resistance to rot, mold, and insects.

This makes it an attractive option for those seeking a long-lasting and easy-to-maintain outdoor living space. Additionally, composite decking is available in a variety of colors and styles to suit any design preference.

Comparing Composite To Natural Timber Decking

On the other hand, compared to composite decking, natural timber decking is exactly what it sounds like - decking made from natural wood. It's traditionally been the material of choice for decks due to its aesthetic appeal and cost-effectiveness.

Pros of Composite Decking

One of the biggest advantages of composite decking is its low maintenance.

Unlike natural timber, it doesn't need to be stained or sealed regularly, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer a hands-off approach to deck maintenance.

Composite decking is also incredibly durable. It's resistant to rotting, splintering, and insect damage, which can extend the lifespan of your deck significantly.

Additionally, composite decking comes in a wide variety of styles and colours, allowing you to customise your deck to match your home's aesthetic.

Composite Decking Disadvantages

Composite decking does have some disadvantages that should be considered before making a decision.

One of the most notable drawbacks is its cost - composite decking can be significantly more expensive than natural timber, which may not fit into everyone's budget.

Additionally, another disadvantage to consider is its heat retention. Composite decking has been known to get extremely hot in direct sunlight, making it uncomfortable to walk on barefoot during hot weather.

Lastly, once installed, composite decking can't be changed or altered easily, so it's important to carefully plan and consider all options before committing to this type of material for your deck.

Pros and Cons of Natural Timber Decking

Natural timber decking is renowned for its aesthetic appeal. With its natural grains and colours, it can add a warm and inviting feel to your outdoor space. It's also cost-effective, making it a popular choice for those on a budget.

However, natural timber decking requires a lot of maintenance. It needs to be stained or sealed regularly to protect it from the elements and prevent it from rotting or splintering.

Furthermore, natural timber decking is susceptible to weather conditions. It can warp, split, or crack in extreme weather, reducing its lifespan.

Considerations When Choosing Between Composite and Natural Timber

There are various factors to consider when choosing between composite and natural timber decking. The climate and environment where you live can play a big role. If you live in an area like the Sunshine Coast with extreme weather conditions, composite decking might be a better choice due to its durability.

Your budget is another important factor. While natural timber may be cheaper upfront, remember to account for ongoing maintenance costs.

Your aesthetic preferences also matter. If you prefer the look and feel of real wood, natural timber might be the best choice for you. Lastly, consider how much maintenance you're willing to put into your deck.

Let's dive into more detail and consider of each of these points to help you make an educated decision.

Longevity & Durability

While timber decking can last a long time with proper maintenance, it does require regular upkeep and associated costs. This includes replacing sections or sanding the deck to keep it looking its best.

On the other hand, composite timber offers a longer lifespan of around 20-30 years with minimal maintenance required.

Most composite decking brands only need to be cleaned regularly, eliminating the need for treatments or stains to prevent moisture damage. This makes composite decking a convenient and durable option for those looking for a low-maintenance outdoor living space that will stand the test of time.

Look and feel 

While timber decking has a traditional and warm appeal, the early generation of composite decking often looked artificial, resembling plastic more than real wood. However, third-generation composite materials have made significant improvements in mimicking the look and feel of natural timber deck boards.

Some brands offer composite decking with embossed grain patterns and color variations that make each board unique. Additionally, composite decking requires minimal maintenance to maintain its appearance over time.

In contrast, natural timber decks require regular upkeep such as sanding, oiling, and painting at least twice a year to keep them looking their best.

Some homeowners may prefer the low-maintenance aspect of composite decking as it allows them to spend more time enjoying their outdoor space rather than working on maintaining it or hiring professionals for regular upkeep.

Composite decking also offers UV and fade protection, ensuring that the deck will retain its color consistency year after year without fading or deteriorating in appearance.

Humidity, mould and insects

Composite decking, especially third-generation composite timber, offers a significant advantage over natural timber in terms of moisture and mould resistance. Unlike timber boards that readily absorb water and are prone to warping, splintering, cracking, and rotting even with regular maintenance, composite boards are fully capped around all four sides.

This advanced manufacturing technology provides complete protection against moisture penetration, ensuring the longevity and durability of the deck.

The fully capped design of composite boards also makes them suitable for installation in wet areas such as around pools, and who doesn't love a pool area on the Sunshine Coast!

Unlike wood decking, composite decking is not susceptible to damage from termites and other wood-destroying insects. However, it is important to note that regardless of the type of decking chosen, natural timber framing is still required for installation.

This means that even if you opt for composite timber decking, proper measures must be taken to protect the underlying timber frame from termite infestations.

Composite decking offers a high level of protection against staining, making it a low-maintenance option when compared to traditional timber decks. Its superior moisture and mould resistance make it a popular choice for homeowners seeking durable outdoor flooring solutions.


Splinters can be a major concern for homeowners with traditional timber decking, as they can cause discomfort and potential injury when walking barefoot or playing on the deck. Composite decking, on the other hand, offers a splinter-free alternative thanks to its innovative composition of small wood fibres encased in plastic.

This not only provides a smooth surface for comfortable barefoot walking but also ensures the safety of children and pets who may frequent the deck area. With composite decking, you can enjoy the natural look of wood without the worry of splinters detracting from your outdoor experience.

Surface Temperature

Timber decking has an advantage over composites when it comes to summer weather, as it is slightly less hot in the direct sun than composite timber decking. This can make a significant difference in comfort for those using the deck during warmer months, especially in a hot, sunny climate like the Sunshine Coast.

However, it's important to note that there is no perfect material for all situations. While the plastic finish on composite timber boards offers excellent protection against the elements such as UV and moisture, they do tend to retain more heat when exposed to direct sunlight. This trade-off between temperature regulation and durability should be considered when choosing between natural timber and composite decking materials.

Environmentally Friendly

Composite decking is a popular choice for environmentally conscious consumers due to its use of waste timber and recycled plastic in its production.

By choosing composite decking, individuals can help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills each month.

Furthermore, opting for composite decking helps preserve natural forests by eliminating the need to cut down living trees for timber boards. This not only protects vital ecosystems but also contributes to reducing carbon emissions by keeping trees intact as carbon sinks.

In addition to its environmental benefits, composite decking also offers practical advantages such as not requiring staining or sealing. This eliminates the need for fossil-fuel-based chemical stains and sealants, further reducing the product's overall impact on the environment.


Composite timber decking offers a hassle-free solution for homeowners looking to enjoy their outdoor space without the constant worry of maintenance. With composite materials, you can simply set up your deck and forget about it, as they require minimal upkeep. A quick sweep or wash every now and then is all that's needed to keep your composite deck looking pristine.

In contrast, natural timber decking requires more frequent attention in order to preserve its appearance and structural integrity over time. Regular painting, staining, and sealing are necessary steps to protect the wood from harsh weather conditions and ensure its longevity. This ongoing maintenance routine can be time-consuming and costly compared to the low-maintenance benefits of composite decking.


When it comes to choosing between composite and natural timber decking, the initial cost is often a deciding factor for many homeowners. Traditional timber decking typically has a lower upfront purchase price compared to composite decking. The cost of timber boards can vary depending on the type of wood used, with softwood being generally more affordable than hardwood.

While traditional timber may seem like the more budget-friendly option at first glance, it's important to consider the long-term investment in terms of maintenance costs and lifespan.

Within just 2-3 years, ongoing maintenance for timber decks can accumulate both expenses and time spent on upkeep. On the other hand, high-quality composite materials require minimal maintenance and have a longer lifespan, making them a cost-effective choice in the long run.

It's worth noting that not all composite materials are equal in quality. Lower-grade composites may lack the natural look and feel of higher-end brands, as well as having a shorter lifespan.

Opting for premium composite materials ensures that your deck will maintain its natural appearance over time while requiring little maintenance efforts, providing durability for years to come.

Comparing Composite and Natural Timber Decking

When it comes to cost, natural timber decking is often the more affordable option upfront. However, over time, the maintenance costs associated with regular staining and sealing may make composite decking a more cost-effective choice in the long run.

In terms of maintenance, composite decking emerges as the clear winner. With minimal upkeep required compared to natural timber, which needs regular care to maintain its appearance and structural integrity.

Furthermore, in terms of durability and lifespan, composite decking tends to outlast natural timber due to its resistance against rotting, splintering, and damage from insects. This longevity can save homeowners both time and money in the long term by reducing the need for frequent repairs or replacements.

Both composite and natural timber decking have their pros and cons. Composite decking offers durability and low maintenance but can be costly and retain heat. Natural timber is aesthetically pleasing and cost-effective but requires high maintenance and is susceptible to weather conditions.

The choice between the two ultimately depends on your personal preferences, budget, and environmental conditions. Evaluate all these factors before making a decision to ensure you choose the decking material that best suits your needs and lifestyle.

If you've got any questions about decking, the team at Directline Timbers on the Sunshine Coast will be more than happy to help!

Shop At Your Local Maroochydore Timber Merchants And Save

Looking for the best timber? Need advice on a project? Want a quote? Our friendly and knowledgeable team are here to help. Visit us today at our showroom and timber yard.

Directline Timbers
6-8 Kayleigh Drive
Maroochydore 4558
Weekdays 6:30am - 4:30pm
(07) 5479 2344