Composite Decking Prices Explained
Composite decking is one of the most sought-after types of decking right now simply because it is a low-maintenance synthetic alternative to wood decking, especially hardwood like timber. Any professional decking installer will tell you this, and you will not be able to notice the difference.
And if you do some research, you will discover a whole range of benefits which makes more and more people inquire about composite decking prices. For one, composite decking is incredibly durable. Whether it is sun, rain, or snow, your composite deck will persevere through the bad weather. Additionally, the manufacturer offers a warranty of 10 years which is almost twice the lifespan of timber decking.
And while other synthetic decking materials last longer, few can claim to benefit the environment by being made from recycled plastic. So, if you want these benefits plus the look and feel of hardwood without the worry of rust or mould, composite decking is perfect for you.
The average costs are between £1,200 to £3,000. This price should cover everything from buying the materials to hiring a labourer to lay the sub base and install the decking boards. However, composite decking prices might be lower or higher depending on the type of decking boards and the size of the area.
We will talk about those later in the article, alongside other cost factors and everything else required for a smooth installation process. This includes the advantages and disadvantages of composite decking, how it compares to real wood like timber decking and how to find a good decking installer. Also, we will discuss how to execute a composite decking project by yourself and offer some maintenance tips.
How Much Does Composite Decking Cost?
Table 1: Installation costs for the three ranges of composite decking
|Deck Size||Wood plastic composite||Capped composite||PVC composite||Duration (days)|
|Cost of installing a deck of 15 metres (£)||1,100 – 1,250||1,300 – 1,450||1,900 – 2,200||1 – 2|
|Cost of installing a deck of 20 metres (£)||1,400 – 1,600||1, 600 – 1,800||2,000- 2,400||1 – 2|
|Cost of installing a deck of 30 metres (£)||1,500 – 1,800||1,950 – 2,300||2,600 – 3,000||2 – 3|
Here is an easy way to determine how much it will cost to install composite decking in your backyard, garden or lawn. Work out the desired deck size and multiply it by the average cost of installing composite decking per square metre, £90 to £175. Use this as the cost of installing a composite decking calculator.
Table 2: supply costs
|Material||Cost per square metre (£)|
|Composite decking boards||20 – 80|
|Supporting joists||2 – 5|
|Fittings||4 – 7|
|Weed membrane||1 – 2.5|
|Skirting trims||2 – 5|
|Corner trims||8 – 12|
Supplies take up about 65% to 70% of installation costs. Table 2 shows all the decking materials needed for installation. However, keep in mind that these figures show what you can expect to spend on each item per square metre of composite decking, not the cost of purchasing units of the material.
The decking boards are the most important and expensive items on the list. They also take up a huge chunk of supply costs.
Labour costs and time frames
Labour takes up 25% to 35% of installation costs. This usually amounts to an average cost of £200 per day. At this rate, you will spend £400 on a project that takes two days, and £600 on one that takes three days. The cost of labour, project time frame, and the total cost depending on deck size and design.
As for the right person to hire to install composite decking, a decking specialist is the best person for the job. You can also hire landscape gardeners at cheap rates who will install the deck efficiently. Whatever you decide, the hiring tips that we discuss later will help.
The remaining 5% to 10% of the total cost of composite decking installation costs goes to waste disposal. That usually involves spending £100 to £200 to hire a skip. However, it could cost more, depending on how the project goes and the current condition of the area where you want the deck installed.
What Are the Factors Affecting Composite Decking Prices?
When working on or hiring someone for a project, it is always smart to understand the factors that can drive up costs. It can help you negotiate better rates and make decisions that will save you money in the long run.
Size of the deck
Among the factors that we are about to consider, size is the most impactful. All things being equal, the larger deck will cost more to install as you can see in Table 1. Supply and labour costs, along with the time frame, will also cause an increase.
So you need to figure out your desired deck size and multiply it by the average cost of installing composite decking which is £90 to £175 per square metre.
Type of decking boards
There are three types of composite decking boards, each with pros and cons. The biggest difference between these three is durability and resistance to weather damage. We will discuss them in detail soon, but if you look at table 1 again, you will notice that Wood-plastic composite (aka WPC) composite decking prices are the lowest, while PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) are the highest.
With these differences in prices comes higher quality and durability. Composite decking boards also come in various finishes like hollow, solid, woodgrain or bullnose. All of these come at different prices. Apart from the differences in decking boards, the cost of installing composite decking may also vary depending on the type, quality and price variations of other materials.
State of the decking area
All decks, composite or otherwise, need a solid and even ground to stand upon. You may already have this if there is an existing deck in place. If not, you will have to level the ground to create an ideal subbase. It will cost between £200 to £600.
On the other hand, removal usually goes for around £100 to £400. You can hire someone to take care of it before the installer arrives or let him handle it too. After removal, the area may still need some grading and weeding.
Whatever you decide, you will also need waste disposal to remove the old decking or excess soil and weed. However, it will not affect the cost if you can wait until the project is complete before hiring a skip.
The complexity of the design
The more complex the design, the higher the composite decking installation costs. The installer will require higher rates, working hours will increase and the supply costs could be affected. So, while complex designs may be more aesthetically pleasing, you will have to pay higher prices.
The last factor that affects composite decking cost is your location. It mainly affects labour costs. Installers in big cities will likely charge more. So, if you are in London and your friend is in the country, you will notice a significant difference in price.
What Are the Additional Costs I Will Encounter When Installing Composite Decking?
The following are not part of the composite decking installation. They are just additional tasks and expenses that will increase the aesthetic value of your deck and the entire outdoor area.
- Garden furniture: This includes chairs and tables to sit on while enjoying the evening with loved ones. Depending on what you buy, the prices can be as low as £30 or as high as £500.
- Outdoor lights: This will set you back about £75 to £120. Again, the prices will vary depending on the quality.
- Landscape gardening: If you have a garden or lawn, you can use this opportunity to get professional care at about £20 to £25 per hour. If you don’t, you can use this opportunity to install it yourself. This will complement the decking, making your exterior space look even better. Fair warning, a new garden or lawn will be close to what the decking cost.
Types of Composite Decking
Table 3: Costs of composite decking boards per square metre
|Composite decking board||Cost per square metre (£)|
|Wood-plastic composite||20 – 50|
|Capped composite||35 – 60|
|PVC composite||40 – 80|
Here are the three main types of decking boards. You do not have to go for the most expensive option. These are all high-quality composite decking materials.
Wood-plastic composite (WPC)
WPC is the basic composite of decking boards. It contains the primary components, plastic (thermoplastic) and wood (sawdust or chippings). It is also the most affordable of the three composite types and the one with the most similar aesthetic to natural wood. These reasons make it the most commonly used.
WPC doesn’t have as much resilience as the others, but it shares their low-maintenance costs, durability and environmental friendliness.
Think of capped composite decking boards as WPC covered in a shell of highly resistant polymer. This shell protects it from pests, stains, scratches, UV rays, rain, rot and snow. As a result, capped composite is more resilient to weather and long-term use. So, if you choose this type of composite decking, you will be purchasing a more durable deck at a slightly higher cost.
PVC Composite Decking
PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. It is a very popular thermoplastic and is one of the most commonly used. These kinds of composite boards get their name because of what they are made of which is 100% PVC. No wood fibre this time around.
As a result, the boards are extremely durable, low-maintenance and resilient to weather and abuse. However, it also means they look and feel less like natural wood.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Composite Decking?
Everything has its pros and cons. It’s important not to install composite decking without understanding the downfalls and how to deal with them. So, it is time to discuss the pros and cons and alternatives will be discussed later.
- It looks and feels like natural wood: This is a big reason why a lot of people consider composite decking. No other synthetic deck covering material comes close.
- It is non-slip: You don’t have to worry about accidents in the autumn or winter. One of the biggest benefits of composite decking boards is the way they feel underfoot as they are wood-like but without splinters.
- It needs very little maintenance: You will see how easy it is to care for composite decking when we discuss maintenance tips. You may need to buy maintenance products, but costs are minimal in the long run.
- It doesn’t fade: It will look perfect for at least a decade because composite boards have a high resistance to sunlight and other weather elements.
- It is extremely durable: It will survive weather conditions all year round with minimal need for care. It won’t crack, splinter or rot.
- It is pricey: High-quality composite decking is expensive. The low maintenance costs offset this. But there is still no denying that the initial investment is more than the average installation price of most decking materials.
- It has a fungal problem: Composite decking is prone to mildew, but you can fight this by springing for capped boards.
- It expands and wraps: Composite decking boards tend to heat up in hot weather, causing them to expand and warp. You can mitigate these by spacing the boards to accommodate this.
How Does A Composite Deck Compare To A Wood Deck?
The biggest selling point of composite decking is its ability to serve as a low-cost, low-maintenance alternative to wooden decking. So, let’s see if it really matches up by comparing five categories:
- Installation cost: The cost of installing composite decking ranges from £20 to £80 per square metre, while that of wooden decking is around £10 to £50. The prices of both can vary depending on certain factors, but wood is cheaper when it comes to installation costs.
- Maintenance costs: Compared to wood, composite decking needs a lot less maintenance. This is where you get your money back. You don’t need to spend a lot of money and time staining and sanding.
- Variety: With composite decking, you only get the aesthetics of hardwood. With wooden decking, there is a variety of options. Timber decking is the most common but you can also try oak, pine, redwood etc. Additionally, you can change the colour by staining so wood is better in this aspect.
- Life span: Composite decking is top in this category. With a warranty of 10 years, some manufacturers even offer more than that. Meanwhile, timber decking only has a life span of 5 to 10 years. Oak lasts longer but comes at a higher price.
- Strength and resilience: Wood decking is stronger but less resilient. So, while composite decking may not be physically stable, it is more tolerant of weather and use.
What Are Some Alternatives To Composite Decking?
Table 4: Alternative decking materials
|Decking material||Cost per square metre (£)|
|Concrete||20 – 55|
|Natural stone||40 – 100|
|Aluminium||40 – 80|
|Grass||2 – 30|
Despite the many benefits and growing popularity of composite decking, it might not be the right fit for you. It all depends on personal preference and decking prices. So, here are four alternative decking materials to composite plastic-wood composite and wood.
- Concrete: It is cheap and durable, although prone to swelling and cracking. There is also the issue of variety but you can fix this by imprinting and pigmentation.
- Natural stone: There is a lot more variety and durability. You can try marble, cobblestone, granite, slate etc. The only issue is the price.
- Aluminium: Aluminium is the closest alternative to composite decking on this list. It is also low-maintenance, durable and long-lasting, although it blows composite decking out of the water in these regards. The prices are also similar.
- Grass: Both artificial grass and real grass make interesting deck covering materials. They are also easy to maintain.
How DO I Install Composite Decking?
All you have to do is follow the following steps. Remember the directions may vary slightly depending on the manufacturer and other factors. We recommend hiring a professional decking installer because of these variations, but it’s nothing you can’t handle with enough DIY experience.
- Create the subbase: Remove all structures, weeds and excess soil in the decking area and then level the ground. Ensure it is flat and solid, then lay the weed membrane.
- Lay the supporting joists: Lay them across each other and hold them in place with fittings to build the support structure.
- Lay the decking boards: Hold them in place with nails and screws.
- Add the final touches: Add sealant and finishing.
How Do I Find A Good Decking Installer?
You can ask people for recommendations or ask for quotes from local and reliable tradespeople. Remember, you don’t have to hire decking specialists; landscape gardeners will be able to complete the job. You just have to ensure they have:
- Experience with composite decking projects
- Proof of past projects
- Written quotes
Talk to at least three installers before making a choice.
How Do I Maintain My New Composite Deck?
One of the biggest benefits of composite decking is that it is easy to maintain. So, follow these tips to keep it in good condition:
- Sweep with a broom to remove leaves, dirt and debris.
- Clean with soapy water once or twice a year,
- Keep the surface dry to keep off mildew
- Use specialised composite decking cleaners and revivers. They cost between £40 to £50 and £60 to £70 respectively.
How Long Does Composite Decking Installation Take?
It takes 1 to 3 days, depending on the size of the deck and design complexity.
What Exactly Is Composite Decking?
Composite decking is created from thermoplastic and wood. Thermoplastic is usually recycled plastic while wood is made from wood chipping or sawdust.
How Can I Save On Composite Decking Costs?
Here are three ways to save money:
- Do it yourself: With some DIY experience, a few articles and YouTube videos, you should be fit to complete the job. I recommend paying attention to the manufacturer’s directions and getting the right tools and protective gear. It will save you a lot of money since labour accounts for about 25% to 35% of the composite decking cost. However, you will have to commit a lot of time and effort.
- Look for discounts and deals: This applies to supply, labour and overall costs. It might take some detective skills and you may have to wait until certain times of the year, but it is possible to find great deals.
- Simple designs over complex ones: This is one of the cost factors, so try to choose simpler designs.