Hardwood timber is sourced from trees that grow slowly, including oak, birch, beech, and maple, while softwood timber is taken from faster-growing or evergreen trees, such as cedar, fir, and pine. Both types of timber can be used to create a spectacular outdoor decking area.

There really is no right or wrong choice between them, but they do come with very different benefits. If you're struggling to decide between them, just take these key areas into account.

1. Cost

Cost is always going to be an important concern, and whether hardwood or softwood will make a better deal depends on your own situation. Softwoods are almost always going to be cheaper to buy; they're also cheaper to install since hardwoods usually demand strong woodworking skills and cannot simply be nailed down. However, hardwood decking tends to last a bit longer. If you're likely to be living at the same property many years down the line, hardwood might be the way to go.

2. Eco-Friendliness

Wood is a natural material that tends to appeal to people looking to stay eco-friendly. In this regard, softwoods are usually better. They require less energy during the necessary drying and cutting processes than their hardwood brothers, and the fact that they grow faster makes them more sustainable. However, make sure you check where your wood is being sourced from if you want to help out the planet. Many softwoods tend to grow in the northern hemisphere, so plenty of fossil fuels must be burnt transporting their timber to Australia.

3. Looks

Your decking should be the crowning jewel of your outside space, so looks are clearly something to consider. Again, it really depends on the current appearance of your property and the look you're trying to foster. In general, new hardwoods offer a golden brown or tawny red colour, while softwoods are paler.

4. Durability

As a general rule of thumb, hardwoods rot slower than softwoods. They also perform particularly well during rough weather, while softwood decks might need to be covered up. You'll need to treat both kinds of timber each year, but hardwood decking should be chosen if you live in an area that tends to experience extremely wet or cold winters.

When you're thinking about the kind of decking that you're going to use, the decision between hardwood and softwood is one of the first that you'll have to make. Consider the four points listed above alongside your own unique needs, and you should come up with the right answer.