Nov 12, 2020
A timber decking makes for an elegant addition to any home, be it on a veranda, poolside or giving you that dream backyard. The natural warmth and tone of wood adds a timeless quality that has been incorporated into housing design for generations. Today, a timber decking is as popular as ever and those among us with DIY-capabilities will find it a worthwhile endeavour – and let’s face it, we’ve all had some downtime for projects in 2020.
In Australia, we have a range of timber options for decking—all of which are beautiful to look at, and with responsible maintenance and treatment, as well as correct design and fixings at the outset, provide excellent longevity.
These six timber species represent some of the most popular choices for decking in Australia. It's important to remember, however, that species’ popularity and availability will vary according to state, while some wood types are better suited to certain climates than others and also vary in durability.
Best of all, you will be doing the environment some good - sustainably sourced, certified wood is actually a renewable and recyclable resource. Importantly, timber acts as a carbon store, giving it an important role to play in reducing carbon emissions.
Many would say that jarrah is the Rolls Royce of decking timbers, especially those who have it and sell it! In terms of aesthetic allure, jarrah is close to top of the range, with the wood's colour ranging from warm dark browns to dazzlingly rich reds, complemented by the wavy lines of interlocking grains.
Jarrah offers good natural resistance to rot, making it ideal for decking (particularly in humid regions with lots of rain). Furthermore, such is jarrah’s strength and durability that it is often used for the construction of wharves and bridges and for damn good-looking railway sleepers.
Growing in the southwest corner of Western Australia, jarrah is now considered a classic Australian timber and is popular across the country.
The much-admired blackbutt grows on the east coast from southern New South Wales to southern Queensland. One of its key advantages is its resistance to bushfires, hence its popularity in areas that have a higher BAL (Bushfire Attack Level) rating. Blackbutt is also one of the hardwoods that the Victorian Building Commission has deemed suitable for home construction on some BAL rated sites (although it should be noted that BAL requirements are subject to change).
Blackbutt is a particularly robust, durable timber, and with proper care, it can endure harsh and prolonged weathering. While many people choose the wood simply because of its pale brown colour, verging on yellow, it can also be easily stained if desired, or left to weather to an attractive silver-grey.
Merbau is native to Asia and offers a shade of deep-brown or a red-tinged brown, and has a reputation for an appearance that improves with age; this is in part to its natural oils. It is also recognised as a bushfire-resistant hardwood.
Merbau offers strength and stability and importantly, durability—this wood is also particularly easy to saw and prepare for decking. Therefore, merbau is a low-maintenance timber, which has the potential to save time and money in the long term.
Treated pine is an extremely popular species, particularly with outdoor applications, due to its reputation for versatility. It’s also one of the least expensive options for decking.
One of the most attractive features of this wood type is the fact it takes paint and oil with such ease, ensuring that an array of colours is possible for your decking. Treated pine is pressure-treated specifically to resist the onset of decay, fungi and to repel termites.
Because of the affordable price of treated pine, it is often chosen for large areas of decking. It’s also a lightweight softwood, which makes it a good option for the 'weekend warrior' who wants to install their decking on their own, DIY style. If you are doing it own your own, it’s important that treated pine’s cut ends are re-sealed with an appropriate preservative agent to ensure the wood remains protected.
'Spotted gum' refers to four species of timber that grow from as far south as the Victoria/New South Wales border to the southern end of Queensland. Spotted gum is another option for people who need to consider a BAL rating.
Spotted gum is also an excellent choice due to its hardness and durability in the face of the elements. Indeed, such is spotted gum’s durability that it is frequently used for structural applications, both indoor and outdoor. The timber is defined by its lovely shades of brown that range from a chocolatey tone to a paler hue, while it also takes oil and paint easily.
Victorian ash, which as its name suggests is not particularly common outside Victoria, is the trade name for two species of tree—mountain ash and alpine ash. It’s a beautiful timber sourced from the high areas of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, and is a great decking option, especially in Victoria. Treating this timber increases its durability, which is lower than some other options.
Its main point of difference is perhaps its colour. Unlike many of the other timbers listed, Victorian ash has a lighter tone, and can appear as light brown, pale blonde or even a pinkish hue. As a result, this provides another beautiful 'natural' look, thanks also to its straight grain. Victorian ash also takes on staining extremely well.
Design: Glow Design Group
Design: Architect Prineas