Hardwood vs Softwood Decking

Timber decking boards can be divided by their type of timber into two major groups; hardwood and softwood. Hardwood is sourced from slow-growing, fruit-bearing trees, and Softwood comes from faster growing, evergreen, or coniferous trees. 

In addition to taking a longer time to grow, hardwood is usually denser than softwood, which is among the reasons why softwood is lower in price than hardwood decking. Softwood forests are less diverse and grow quicker than hardwoods, making softwood decking more abundantly available (and cheaper) than the slower-growing but denser and more durable hardwoods.

Spoilt for choice

There are a wealth of different decking boards to choose from, so it can be confusing when it comes to knowing which type of decking would suit your project. 

Hardwood decking board facts:

  • Certain types have a unique invisible fastener system

  • Is the warmest, most natural material

  • Is like an indoor floor, outdoors

  • Tropical hardwoods are very durable

  • Needs greater expertise in carpentry skills than softwood

On the other hand, softwood outdoor decking is made from coniferous, evergreen trees – such as pine or spruce. About 80% of the world's lumber is softwood. Scandinavia and Russia are responsible for a huge quantity of softwood trees. 

To make use of softwood decking outside, it should be suitably treated with preservatives in order to safeguard it from fungal and insect decay, and wear and tear from the environment.

Softwood decking board facts:

  • Cheapest type of decking

  • Value for money

  • Has wood fibres which are tightly packed together and this structure gives the boards the strength and durability needed to last

  • Readily available

  • Pressure-treated boards

  • Can be stained a different colour

  • Cut from coniferous trees which are quicker growing and therefore more economical

  • Come in a variety of designs

As a result of availability, price point, and ease of installation, around 90% of decks are made from softwood. 

Hardwood decking has a tendency to be a lot more expensive and requires more woodworking skills to get it in place, however, it is available in a range of attractive colours.

Choose responsibly

Resilience is very important when choosing your decking timber, go with the variety that will stand up to outdoor problems all year round. Investing in a higher quality of timber will pay dividends. But, whatever wood decking you choose, be sure to verify that it has come from a sustainable source. 

For further information concerning materials that are suitable for outdoor use, such as hardwood decking or softwood decking, please contact us.

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