Narangba Timbers has been providing DIY decking timber and advice to families in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast since 1972. Our “Decksperts” know a thing or two about choosing the right timber for your deck! In south-east Queensland, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to timber decking options, and there’s no “one-size-fits-all” option.
Once you’ve selected your quality decking timber, use our Guide to DIY Decking for full step-by-step instructions to bring it to life. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about building a deck in your home – updated for 2023.
- Why the right decking timber is so important
- What to consider when choosing a decking timber
- Why choose locally sourced timber
- Our recommended decking timbers
Why the right decking timber is so important
A well-made and well-maintained timber deck doesn’t just create an incredible indoor-outdoor living space. It also increases the value of your south-east Queensland home and can help make better use of land that’s on a decline.
However, because a deck is a frequently used outdoor space, it’s subject to whatever both you and the Brisbane climate throw at it. Building a deck with timber that isn’t durable and long-lasting can lead to early decay and a lot of maintenance that costs you in the long run.
What to consider when choosing a decking timber
Consider where your deck will be built. Will the area be shady or sunny? Is it going to be an elevated deck with stairs, or a single floor deck? How close is it to water?
In Brisbane, we must use timber species that can last in our extreme climate and that are resistant to termites, lyctid borers and other pests. This means that a hardwood high on the durability scale, or a softwood treated with an agent that protects the timber, are the best choices.
Decks are made up of many segments – including posts, framework, joists, planks, handrails, balusters and trim. Because each of these components has different levels of exposure to weather and use, you can choose different timbers for them.
A dense softwood, such as treated pine, is popular for posts and framework – because it is durable and affordable. It can also be a good choice for deck planks, as it easily absorbs coloured stains. Hardwoods, such as Merbau, are often the preferred choice for decking planks – thanks to their longevity, premium feel and luxurious appearance.
Outdoor timber in Brisbane & The Sunshine Coast goes through both extremely humid and dry seasons. To avoid splitting and damage, decking timber must be stable and have low shrinkage and expansion rates to cope with these seasons.
The durability rating of a hardwood timber species (represented by “Class”) refers to the ability of the wood to resist decay and pests. Class 1 and 2 timbers are the toughest, and the only ones that should be used for decking.
Why choose locally sourced timber for decking?
Readily available timber
When you select local timber, you can get what you need when you need it. There’s no waiting for a shipment from the other side of the world. This means no transportation delays or additional shipping costs.
More eco-friendly timber
Think about the long-term impact of your decking decision. When you buy locally sourced timber, you know where it’s coming from. You can examine the providers’ forestry policies and make sure that you’re supporting a sustainable operation.
A deck made from timber that’s native to the area is more likely to last. Selecting a local timber that’s also bushfire resistant – such as merbau decking timber (kwila), blackbutt, ironbark and spotted gum – can also be an important decision for more rural homes.
Our recommended decking timber types
Hardwood is the most durable timber and provides natural protection against microbes and pests. We’re partial to merbau (kwila), blackbutt, ironbark and spotted gum varieties.
✅ Class 1 hardwoods are strong and durable
✅ Beautiful natural colours that don’t require staining
✅ Unique “looks” with their own character, textures and grains
✅ Easy to maintain and less likely to sustain scratches
Softwood – such as pine – is more affordable, but still sturdy. However, it must be treated with “alkaline copper quaternary” to protect it against microbes and pests.
✅ Generally more affordable
✅ Superior availability
✅ Pliable and easy to work with
✅ Lighter colour schemes are easier to stain and customise
Composite is made from sawdust and plastic fillers. While safe from microbes and pests, composite should only be used for deck planks – rather than framework.
✅ Best of both worlds for durability and affordability
✅ Easier to install, with pre-cut grooves
✅ Minimum maintenance required
✅ Made from recycled materials
Our recommended decking timber species
Merbau decking timber offers natural resistance to termites, which is crucial in Brisbane. It’s incredibly durable and can last over 25 years with proper care. While classified as a hardwood, it is easier to work with than other hardwoods. Its distinctive reddish brown colour, interspersed with yellow grains, is also highly aesthetic.
Blackbutt decking timber is very durable, with great fire resistance. If you live in a fire zone, blackbutt should be your first choice. Despite the name, hues include golden yellow to pale brown. While you can paint, polish and stain blackbutt, it is susceptible to surface checking if left un-oiled. Seal your blackbutt decking as soon as possible – and re-oil every year.
Ironbark decking timber is extremely resistant to bacteria, fungi and termites. Because it’s tough, hard and heavy, it can be tough to work with. You may need to take some extra care during your building process. However, the finished product is a deck with an extremely long life. Ironbark ranges from red to light brown, with some pale tan colours.
Spotted Gum decking timber has a very distinctive look. Known for its strength and density, spotted gum is resistant to shrinkage. Its low tannin content means that it doesn’t “bleed” like other native timbers and it boasts a wide range of attractive colours and markings – ranging from pale to chocolate brown.
Treated pine decking timber is popular because of its incredible reliability and affordability. As a softwood, treated pine is very easy to work with and stains easily to achieve your desired look. It’s the perfect choice for those looking to build a budget deck.
Ultimately, the timber decking materials you use will be determined by your taste. At Narangba Timbers, we have a DIY timber decking area where you can see how different timbers look with different finishes.
Together with our easy-to-use DIY Decking Calculator and expert advice, we can help you select the right decking timber to suit your needs and taste.