Compared to even a decade ago there is so much more choice in building materials, as technology has improved and different materials have been imported to New Zealand. It’s great to have all of these different options, but when renovating you have so many choices to make and it can get a bit overwhelming!
New Zealand has a harsh climate, with many houses being exposed to hot sun and high levels of UV rays, salt spray from the ocean, and high winds. So when building an outside space, for example a deck, it’s important to consider what your house is exposed to when considering different materials.
Here we have suggested a range of different decking materials that differ in price, look, and longevity. We hope that this helps make your decking decisions easier!
1. The cost-effective option: treated pine (H3.2)
Pine is New Zealand’s most common building timber and a lot of it is grown here. For this reason, pine is the cheapest timber to use for decking. As pine is a soft wood, it is treated with chemicals so that it doesn’t rot. The most common dimensions for pine decking are 90x19mm, 90x32mm and 135x32mm.
Pros: pine is the cheapest material to use for decking, and it is easy to cut and nail or screw (because it is soft). It is also a light colour so it can be stained or painted many different shades.
Cons: because pine is a soft wood, it often warps and shrinks with time. New Zealand’s harsh sun accelerates this process so a pine deck in a sheltered spot (i.e. under a porch) may continue to look great for years while the same timber exposed to the elements may look quite different after just a few years!
2. The designer option: hardwood
If you want a deck that has a long-lasting quality look, then a hardwood deck is a good option. Hardwood timber is grown in the tropics and imported to New Zealand, and common varieties are kwila, vitex, and purple heart. Hardwood timber doesn’t need to be treated with chemicals because it is hard and naturally resistant to rot and fungus. The most common hardwood decking dimensions are 140x19mm and 90x18mm.
Pros: Hardwood timber continues to look great for many years after being laid. It only shrinks a small amount – definitely not as much as pine. Hardwood has a smoother grain and is generally free from the knots that pine may have.
Cons: Hardwood timber is more expensive than pine. Kwila and purple heart have a darker colour and so these timbers bleed when exposed to water. The bleeding will stop after around 2 months or so (depending on exposure). Because of its density, hardwood is more difficult to work with and requires pre-drilling of screw holes.
3. The sustainable option: composite decking
The newest player in the decking materials market is composite decking. There are many different composite decking products available, most of which are made of compressed sawdust and plastic. Although this may sound a little weird, it’s an environmentally friendly solution as composite decking uses materials that would otherwise end up in landfills.
Pros: composite decking is a more sustainable option than pine and hardwood as it often uses recycled material. Composite decking is completely straight and comes in fixed lengths. You can even choose the colour, and it won’t ever warp or shrink!
Cons: Composite decking is the most expensive of these three decking options. It’s also a bit weaker than timber, meaning that it can chip – but this doesn’t happen often.
So there you have it. The three most common materials used for decking in New Zealand. Here at I Build Solutions, most of the decks we build are made from kwila or vitex (hardwood) but we will build decks out of whichever material suits your preference and budget!
Decks that are less than 1.5 m off the ground generally don’t require building consent, and laying new decking on a higher deck doesn’t need consent either. So whatever your situation, there are lots of great easy ways that we can help you to create or update your outdoor living space!
Get in touch today to see how we can get your outdoor space ready for summer!