Which material is right for your deck

An outdoor deck can make a fabulous addition to your home.

A deck doesn’t just make your outdoor space more accessible, it can also add real value to your property when you’re ready to sell.Not only is it a great DIY challenge but also you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits an outdoor space can offer, from reading outside in the sun, to hosting an al fresco dinner party for friends.

So let’s get started.

Outdoor decking area with view of bushland

Find the right material

One of your first steps will be to select the right decking material. Ask yourself:

  • How much repair and maintenance are you willing to do?
  • Do you want a deck that can withstand the elements?
  • Will you want to update the look of your deck on a regular basis?
  • Is choosing a ‘green’ decking material important to me?

To help answer these questions, we’ve put together a simple guide to help you choose the best decking material to suit your needs.

Your guide to decking materials

Natural wood

Timber decking is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also extremely durable – so long as it’s well maintained. A high quality timber can look gorgeous and is definitely worth the investment.

Merbau Decking - a durable hardwood‘Merbau decking’ –  a richly coloured, durable hardwood

Maintenance is something you’ll need to factor in with a natural wood deck. Exposed to the elements, it can weather over time, so if you don’t want it to split, crack or rot, you’ll need to stain and seal the timber on a regular basis. 

Wooden decks need maintenance over time, so be prepared to stain and seal the timber regularly.

There’s a range of attractive stains and sealants available (with UV-protection or water-repellency) to help you achieve the look you want.

Apartment balcony with view of city and spotted Gum Decking ‘Spotted Gum’ – a durable Australian hardwood 

Are you one of those people that loves walking around barefoot in summer? Believe it or not, natural timbers can stay a comfortable temperature in the sun, especially when compared to other decking choices.

Compared to other choices timber stays relatively cool in the sun.

Lightweight and economical H3 plantation pine stained in mahoganyFor the environmentally conscious – a lightweight and economical plantation pine

Natural woods are also great for wet climates, and for those with pools, because although the wood will absorb a little water, it actually makes for a safer non-slip surface.

Read more: Create an indoor-outdoor living space with a patio


Composite decking is a popular, environmentally friendly alternative to natural wood as it’s weather resistant, stain resistant and lightweight.

Outdoor deck & entertaining area, poolsideWeather resistant composite decking is excellent poolside

Being comprised of wood fibres and recycled plastics it doesn’t have the same potential to rot or splinter like timber, which makes it a relatively low maintenance option.

The beauty of composite decking is that it never needs staining or sealing.

The beauty of composite decking is that it never needs staining or sealing. It’s likely to maintain its wood-grain look, texture and colour for much of its lifetime. Simply wash the deck for great results.

Read more: Outdoor living – 3 key ways to add real value

PVC or synthetic

Also known as ‘wood plastic’, polymer vinyls and other synthetics are a great alternative for homeowners looking for an extreme low-maintenance deck. Plastic decks are designed to be scratch, mildew and stain resistant.

Modern internal courtyard, wooden deckLow maintenance synthetic decking 

For those of us who do a lot of outdoor entertaining, these materials are excellent as they’re engineered to endure a lot of traffic.

Synthetic decking is lighter than most hardwood timbers, which means less stress and strain for the first-time DIYer.

Synthetic decking is also lighter than most hardwood timbers, which means less stress and strain for the first-time DIYer. Plastics are cost-effective and easy to clean but they don’t always last as long the alternatives. There are some eco brands available in synthetic fibres for those of us who prefer a more sustainable solution.


A deck made from a material like aluminium is another excellent option – especially for homeowners who live near dense bushland since it won’t act as a fire accelerant. It’s affordable, extremely weather resistant, and requires little or no maintenance. The main drawback is that it can become slippery when wet so it’s better for an extended outdoor area rather than next to a pool. It can also become quite hot in direct sunlight.

Read more: How to prepare your property for bushfire season


If you prefer the look of natural wood but are concerned about the future sustainability of rainforest hardwoods, bamboo could be the ideal option for you. It has all the natural beauty of timber, at a longer length, and requires about the same amount of maintenance.

Perhaps the biggest plus of bamboo is that it’s highly sustainable.

Long wooden deck adjacent to houseThe long timber lengths of bamboo suit long, narrow decks

Read more: Climate change & your property

Perhaps the biggest plus of bamboo is that it’s highly sustainable. This is because bamboo grows quickly, which means it’s easy to harvest. Choose your bamboo material carefully though, as it needs to be properly treated to maintain it’s strength and durability during deck construction.

Follow us on Twitter for more news, tips and inspiration. Become our mate on Facebook and explore our Pinterest boards.

Like this article or found it helpful? Share it!