Non-slip decking: what is the best timber to use?

Timber sun lounger on garden Ipe decking with anti-slip inserts

We’ve compiled a comprehensive timber analysis to help guide your decision when choosing anti-slip decking.

Non-slip decking is a great way to make use of your garden all year round. Not only can it be customised and personalised, but it also allows you to create alluring and safe outdoor spaces. Many people choose garden decking to create functional areas for families whilst some just prefer it to a traditional garden.

Softwood and hardwood have their own individual qualities so it’s important to consider what the space will be used for when it comes to choosing the best timber for decking. We’ve compiled a comprehensive analysis between the two, to help guide your decision.

Softwood and hardwood

Hardwood timber comes from trees which are slower to mature. Oak and Beech are just two examples of hardwood trees you might find in the UK. They’re made up of a more complex structure, will lose their leaves in autumn and regrow them in the warmer months. They’re more often found in temperate countries where they will only shed occasionally.

Softwood trees are much faster growing and in great supply. They’re coniferous and retain their needles all year round. Some examples are Pine, Redwood, and Cedar.

Price difference

Price will most likely be one of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to choosing the timber for your non-slip decking. Due to its fast-growing nature, softwood is widely available meaning it has a lower price than hardwood. Hardwood’s complex structure makes it more difficult to process. When combined with how long it can take a hardwood tree to grow, you can justify the higher price.

Other pricing factors may also influence your decision. For example, softwood decking will need treating or staining. It will also depend on where you are building your garden decking and on what type of surface. Will you need to prepare your ground? There are extra costs to consider but, ultimately, adding non-slip decking to your home can add value to a property.

Durability and ease of maintenance

In terms of their durability, softwoods are generally less dense which makes them more susceptible to moisture and rot. However, if the wood is treated and sealed before the decking installation, you can improve its resistance to bad weather. Bear in mind that softwood decking will need annual maintenance to ensure it keeps its look and durability. Most softwood timber decking boards will have a 15-to-20-year lifespan.

Whilst hardwood decking boards require less maintenance than that of their softwood counterparts, it’s still advisable to do so. Softwood or hardwood decking boards are still timber. This natural material is likely to weather and age naturally, so staining, oiling, and cleaning your deck as needed will help to keep it looking fresh.

Hardwood decking is known for its longevity. Woods like Yellow Balau and Cumaru are renowned for their water resistance and their stability and can last for up to 50 years. For the most part, it can be left alone and will uphold its robustness. The average life span for a piece of hardwood decking is from 30 to 50 years.

Look and feel

Look will no doubt be a priority when choosing the best non-slip decking. A garden is an extension of a person’s home. So, the look and feel of it needs to reflect that. As well as coming in a variety of different shapes, sizes and heights, the wood you choose will have the most noticeable difference.

Hardwood decking is more comparable to having an indoor floor outside. It’s typically smoother due to its more complex structure. The shades tend to be dark with a much warmer tone. These can be anything from a brown tone to a darker, golden brown. Hardwood decking is also unlikely to need staining unless you’re after a different look for your garden.

Softwoods are typically a much lighter shade of timber decking. When treated it has a pale green tinge to the wood. Just like a tan, after a few weeks outdoors, it will turn more golden. If you choose to use a stain, then you can make the wood much darker, even closer to a hardwood shade. With softwood, you have more options to customise it.

When you should use each

It’s good to think about what you will be using your garden for when considering the best timber for decking. Will it be exposed to the elements? Will it be a high-traffic area? For example, if you have a swimming pool or a hot tub, hardwood generally has a better moisture resistance.

How heavily will your deck be used? For the average household, softwood decking is perfectly suitable and durable for an average amount of use. If your deck will need to withstand heavy foot traffic and will see lots of use, then consider hardwood.

Another more sustainable alternative is bamboo decking. Bamboo is in plentiful supply so it’s great for the planet. It’s also durable, low maintenance and can last for 30 to 50 years. If you’re trying to make more environmentally conscious choices, then definitely consider bamboo decking as it also absorbs carbon over its lifetime.

Should you choose hardwood or softwood, it can still be done sustainably if you buy from Gripsure. All of our timber is certified under the industry flagship standards of FSC and PEFC and we plant one tree for every order placed with the help of Plant One Cornwall.


  • As the price of softwood decking is lower, if you’re on a budget and are more interested in having a great-looking deck for the near future go for softwood
  • If you’re willing to spend a bit more money on your decking and want it to withstand the test of time, hardwood is a great long-term investment
  • Consider bamboo decking for a more sustainable choice or buy soft and hard woods directly from Gripsure where the timber is FSC and PEFC certified
  • Both softwood and hardwood require maintenance – it’s inescapable if you want to preserve your decking
  • We can guarantee a minimum of a 15-year lifespan for softwood and 30 for hardwood and bamboo as well as our 15-year non-slip guarantee

So what is the best timber for decking?

There is no definitive answer to what the best timber for decking is as it all comes down to an individual’s needs, budgets and wants. Both softwood and hardwood have their own unique qualities that make them great for garden decking—it’s all just a matter of preference.

We hope this information has guided your decision. However, if you’re still looking for answers as to which non-slip decking will be the best for your home, have a read through our FAQ or get in touch.