If you’ve been inspired to build your own deck, the most important thing to consider is undoubtedly the wood. When you’re shopping for decking timber, consider which wood species are popular in NZ and which ones would work best for your project
As you consider the aesthetic appeal of each type of timber, make sure you also factor in which one is the most suitable for the local climate.
Types of Hardwood Decking
New Zealand homeowners and architects are increasingly choosing hardwood over other types of timber decking. Hardwood decking is cut from trees with a slow growth habit, so they cost more to produce.
However, hardwoods are very durable, highly resilient and they look and feel great. Let’s break down some of the popular hardwood decking timber.
Kwila, or Merbau, is a hardwood decking that is naturally tough and durable. Aside from its strength of character, Kwila is very popular in New Zealand because it’s got a natural red colour that enhances any backyard. Some other benefits of Kwila decking include:
- Naturally occurring oils protect Kwila from harsh environments – great for outdoor use
- Low shrinkage
- Resistance to splitting or cracking due to tannins
- Minimal maintenance required
Genuine Mahogany Decking
Tropical hardwoods, like genuine Fijian Mahogany, are popular as decking timber in New Zealand due to their resistance to moisture, decay and insect infestation. Some other benefits of Mahogany decking are:
- Natural beauty, with colours ranging from pinkish-red to orange-browns
- Harvested from sustainable plantations – one of the world’s most environmentally friendly timbers
- Close, straight grain makes it resistant to splintering
Another popular hardwood decking choice is Vitex decking. This is a durable timber with a pale yellowish to creamy-grey appearance. Some of the benefits of Vitex as a decking timber are:
- Fine, slightly lustrous texture with even grain
- Leathery odour and nice to the touch – perfect for bare children’s feet!
- Sourced from low-impact, village-based operations in the Solomon Islands
- High resistance to shock loads
Hardwood Decking Maintenance Tips
Whether you install Kwila, Mahogany or Vitex decking, maintenance is important in upholding the appearance and functionality of your deck.
All hardwood decks should be cleaned at least once a year in order to clear gaps and remove surface mould. Use a stiff brush and keep the deck clear of leaf litter.
Don’t power-wash at too high of a pressure setting, as this will damage the fibres of the board.
To ensure the health of the wood and to prevent fading, it’s important to treat your hardwood deck. How often you treat it will depend on how much sun it gets but we usually recommended every 6 to 12 months.
If you’ve started to notice that the colour is fading, test a drop of clear oil on the deck and see if it soaks in. If it does, then the treatment will also soak and you’re ready to treat the deck.
Treated Pine Decking
Treated pine is considered a softwood, as it is cut from coniferous trees, which are quicker growing, and therefore, more affordable. Treated pine decking is most commonly available in New Zealand.
Pine isn’t naturally durable, but the preservative treatments can make this timber as durable as most hardwoods.
The three common treatments for Radiata Pine are:
- Light organic solvent preservative
- Alkaline copper quaternary
- Copper chrome arsenate
Some of the benefits of Radiata Pine as decking timber are:
- Easily worked by machine or hand
- Smooth, clean finish
- Holds glues and nails excellently
- Resistant to splitting
- Accepts stains evenly
Treated Pine Maintenance Tips
While good quality, pressure treated pine will last without substantial decay for forty years, discolouration and splintering introduce themselves after only a few months. To keep it looking good and feeling splinter-free, use a deck sealant as soon as it has become stabilised with the environment, usually after a few weeks.
For more great projects and materials, visit Woodmart in Auckland to view our range of decking timber!