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Hardwood vs. Softwood Decking

- The Pros and Cons

One of the most common questions asked by those planning to construct decking in the garden is whether to choose hardwood or softwood. There’s a lot to consider when choosing between these two types of decking material, from durability and eco-friendliness to cost. What confuses many people is that the terms hardwood and softwood don’t actually relate to the physical hardness of the wood. They are broad, biological terms that are used to describe wood species. Read on to discover the pros and cons of hardwood and softwood decking.

a brown decking with garden furniture on top

Hardwood decking -

What is it made from?


Hardwood decking is usually constructed from slow-growing deciduous trees such as ash and oak. Beech trees are also sometimes used. Since the structure of these trees is more complex, they’re harder to process. This, together with the fact that it takes many years for them to grow, makes hardwood decking one of the pricier options. Not all hardwoods are durable enough for use outdoors, but many are and these can be found as hardwood decking.

Whilst hardwood decking isn’t the cheapest, it’s a fantastic investment overall. Extremely durable, you can expect it to retain its attractive appearance over the years. With a potential lifespan of around 50 years with good maintenance, you can look forward to enjoying your hardwood decking long into the future.

Pros and cons of hardwood decking

Hardwood decking has several key benefits. However, it’s important to note its downsides too. Keep reading to discover the biggest pros and cons of hardwood decking.


Pros of hardwood decking

  • Premium quality
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Many designs and style options available
  • More fire-resistant
  • Unlikely to rot, warp, or split


Cons of hardwood decking

  • Challenging to install
  • Needs maintaining regularly
  • More expensive than other decking materials
hardwood and softwood deck boards

Softwood decking – What is it made from?


Softwood decking is made from either coniferous or evergreen trees such as spruce and pine. These trees are faster growing than the trees used to make hardwood decking. Softwood decking needs to be pressure-treated with preservatives before it’s used. This is designed to protect it from fungal and insect decay as well as deterioration from the environment.


Around 80% of the world’s timber is made from softwood since it’s so widely available, easy to work with, and cost-friendly. Even though softwood decking is much more affordable than hardwood decking, many people feel it’s equally attractive once installed. Unfortunately, you can expect softwood decking to begin losing its good looks after a few years. This type of decking doesn’t last as long as hardwood decking, even when pressure-treated. Ultimately, since softwood decking is quick and easy to install and cost-effective, it’s still a good solution if you’re not too concerned about lifespan.

Pros and cons of softwood decking

softwood deck boards

Softwood is the first-choice material for decking in homes across the UK. Whilst it has many benefits, there are also drawbacks to consider. Read on to find out what you need to know about this popular decking solution.


Pros of softwood decking

  • More affordable. Softwood decking is renowned for its low price compared with other decking materials.
  • More eco-friendly. Since softwood decking is constructed from fast-growing trees, it’s considered greener than hardwood decking.
  • Installation is quick and easy.
  • When pressure-treated, softwood can last many years.

    Softwood decking may have a lot going for it, but it’s important not to ignore its downsides. In some cases, this type of decking might not be right for you.

Cons of softwood decking

  • Unsuitable for areas with high footfall. Softwood can become faded as time passes, impacting its appearance.
  • Softwood is a weaker material than hardwood due to its low density.
  • Softwood isn’t as durable as hardwood.
  • Ongoing maintenance is required. Thorough cleaning is advised a few times a year.

How to maintain hardwood and softwood decking


Whichever decking you opt for, regular maintenance is essential to keep it looking and performing well throughout the years. Hardwood and softwood decking both need to be looked after as well as possible. You’ll need to:

  • Clean the whole surface. This means that you’ll need to move all furniture and your barbeque so that you can access the entire space. Refrain from dragging these items since this can scratch your decking, leaving unsightly marks that spoil its appearance.
  • Always test a new cleaning detergent on a small area of decking first. This helps to avoid any unexpected damage occurring to the surface.
  • Carry out thorough cleaning bi-annually. Brush it with a firm broom before performing pressure-washing.

More and more people are installing decking in their gardens due to the vast array of benefits it brings them. Providing an attractive and convenient space to relax, dine, and entertain, it allows you to enjoy spending time outdoors all year round. Garden decking can also boost your property’s value if installed to a high standard. Whether you opt for hardwood or softwood decking, it’s important to be clear about the pros and cons of both types. Arming yourself with all the information about these popular decking solutions will allow you to make the right choice.

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