Composite Decking or Wood: Definition & Differences

Choosing what material to use for your decking can be difficult. With so many options available, from treated timber decking boards to composite decking wood, there are so many options, it can become overwhelming.

We’ve been doing some research into decking materials and gathered our research here for you to peruse and to help you choose the best materials for your outdoor spaces. We have listed the definitions of both traditional wood decking and composite decking and made a brief comparison of the two to help you make a decision between these two decking materials.

To find out more about these two kinds of decking materials, keep reading now.

Types of Decking

To understand each kind of decking, you’re going to need a definition of what both decking material names mean. Below we have briefly summarised each kind of decking to help you understand what each one actually is. 

Composite decking definition

Composite decking or composite deck is an innovative solution to outdoor flooring. It mixes wood fibres with recycled plastic to create a tough and durable decking material. Lots of homeowners love the benefits of this material as it is durable and low maintenance, and we agree, but it has lots more advantages than just this!

Keep reading to find out the definition of wood decking and continue to see a comparison of a wood deck vs composite deck.

Wood decking definition

Wood decking, traditional timber decking, or natural wood deck is made up of pure wood. This natural material comes in a variety of different styles with a variety of different treatments, including treated or untreated timber, and both hardwood and softwood decking options. Wood decking has lots of advantages and drawbacks too.

Composite wood decking vs wood decking

Now that we know what each kind of decking is, it’s time to find out the real differences between the two. Below, we’ve summarised the advantages and disadvantages of both, covering composite decking vs wood cost (UK current costs), durability, and maintenance. 

Advantages of a composite deck

Composite decking comes with a range of advantages which is why it is a popular and innovative choice for decking. The advantages include:

  • Fewer maintenance costs. With wood decking, you will need to maintain and treat your decking to keep it in shape, for composite decking, you needn’t worry. The most maintenance you’re going to need is cleaning it!
  • Cheaper in the long run. Though the upfront costs of composite decking can sometimes be more expensive than wood and timber decking, usually costing around £95 per m2, composite decking needs so little maintenance that it doesn’t cost as much in the long run. In fact, composite decking is actually designed this way, so while manufacturing costs are higher, it is worth the cost.
  • Low slip surface. Composite decking has narrow grooves and becomes much less slippery in rain or icy weather than its timber counterpart.
  • Insect repellent. Composite decking is insect repellent, meaning insects will not get inside of or eat away at your decking.
  • Durability. As composite decking is part synthetic, it is much less likely to wear and rot and is engineered to stand against harsh weather conditions.
  • Low water absorption. Composite decking does not absorb water like natural fibres do and with light maintenance, you will not end up with rot in your decking.

Disadvantages of a composite deck

Though composite decking has lots of advantages, it does have some drawbacks. Almost all of the drawbacks are based on personal preference too, so if you don’t mind it, it is unlikely to be a real problem.

The disadvantages of composite decking are:

  • Appearance. There are some who feel that composite decking is inauthentic compared to natural wood.
  • Colour. Though composite decking comes in lovely wood colour variations, like with most materials, it can fade in the sun. Most composite decking should be treated for protection against UV rays, but as with natural wood, the colour may still lose its vibrancy over time.
  • Batch variation. Low quality composite decking can vary per batch, making it difficult sometimes to match up your boards. This can be annoying if you need to replace panels or deck a new area that you want to match. 

Advantages of a wood deck

Now for wooden decking!

Wooden decking offers many advantages and there are lots of people who still choose wooden decking over composite decks. The advantages include:

  • Authenticity. Wooden decking is considered much more authentic in look and feel to composite boards. Many composite decking vs wood decking articles agree that this is probably the biggest drawback of composite decking.
  • Desirability. Though many do not deck their gardens with the future sale of their house in mind, it may be something to consider. Well maintained wood decks can be appealing to buyers due to the authenticity of the natural material.
  • Durability. Though composite decking might be considered more durable, hardwood decking is still a sturdymaterial for decking, especially after it’s been treated.

Disadvantages of a wood deck

The disadvantages of wooden decking are:

  • Expense. Though wooden decking can sometimes be cheaper than composite decking upfront, with it usually costing between £65 – £105 per sqm, wooden decking boards require much more maintenance than composite boards. This can include treatment, painting, and cleaning.
  • Maintenance. As we have discussed a lot in this article, wooden decking requires more upkeep than composite decking. This adds to the cost and the labour that goes into your decking. If you want easy decking, you should probably consider composite decking!
  • Desirability Unless well maintained and regularly treated as mentioned, natural wood decking can quickly look unsightly which could affect your enjoyability of your outdoor space, and even the appeal when selling your house. 


Overall, both composite decking and wooden decking are great choices for your deck and the choice usually comes down to personal preference. While composite decking may be more expensive upfront, wood decking usually costs you more in the long run.

Both decking options are environmentally friendly, provided the wood is sustainably sourced, and so either would be good options if you this is important to you. 

And while wood decking is renowned for its natural look and is a sturdy and traditional solution, composite decking is extremely durable, doesn’t need painting and the range of colours and textures are growing. 

At the end of the day, the choice probably comes down to the amount of time you want to put into your decking. If you want a decking that is easy to maintain and or become weather-worn, composite decking would be a good choice. If you want an authentic-looking deck that you can paint any colour you want, and you don’t mind having to treat, re-paint, and clean it every once in a while, then opt for wooden decking.

Hopefully, our brief summaries have helped you to make a decision between the two different kinds of decking so you can choose the best solution for your garden!