What Are The Common Decking Materials in Singapore?
Wood decking has recently gained its popularity among Singaporeans and developed countries in Asia; more and more people begin to decorate their balconies and patios with wooden decks. However, most consumers and commercial owners still do not have much information on the decking materials which they chosen for their homes and workplaces. Consumers need to have adequate information on the decking materials that they going to choose because they are going to live with it long term.

Here are some important information on the common decking materials used in Singapore:

a) Chengal Wood Decking

The most common wood deck so far in Singapore is Chengal wood. It gives the outdoor decks a wood feeling and a beautiful outlook. However, most consumers are still not aware that Chengal wood today is considered a protected species by Forest Stewardship Council. Many young chengal trees have been forced to cut down due to illegal logging. This explains why people who buy chengal today are faced with 2 extraordinary wide prices range. Matured chengal, due to its limited controlled resources, is very much expensive than young chengal trees. The consumer need to be alerted when the deck sales person sell chengal wood to him at very low prices. Young chengal timber sellers will usually tell the prospective buyers that they have a lot of supply in their warehouses.

Moreover, most young chengal timber are usually not been treated through the kiln drying process. Kiln drying is a process in which almost 100% of the moisture inside the wood has been extracted; thus making the wood resistant to weather. The water and moisture content inside the young chengal will cause the deck to deteriorate in the long run if it is not kiln dried. Even if young chengal wood has gone through the kiln drying process, it will still contain a certain high level of moisture inside the wood compare to matured chengal wood.

Chengal, similar to balau wood, needed to be sanded down and apply paint on it in order to enhance its natural colouring and protection. Hence, cost of maintenance in the long term will be quite high. The wood surfaces and paints will usually crack easily in a few years due to rain & shine if chengal decks are not properly maintained. (as seen from the reference picture below)

Chengai Wood caused by weather.JPG
Fig1a: Chengal Outdoor Deck, Paint Cracks After 2 years

Hence, for the consumer benefit, he or she must ask 2 main questions to the seller if they are buying Chengal wood for their decks.

Q1) Is it a Green Label product? Is it a young or matured chengal wood?
Q2) Has it gone through the kiln drying process?

If the seller is not able to provide you with a definite and documented answer, you can look for another trustworthy and reliable chengai supplier.

b) Balau Decking

Yellow and red balau decks has been recently used in Singapore as well. The consumer need to know whether the wood has gone through the kiln drying process too. The color tones of balau wood is much soothing and striking compare to other wood species. However for some balau decks, there will be leakage of a red coloured sapping from the wood after the decks have been exposed to outdoors within a few months time. This reddish coloured pigment will cause some colour disorientation of the decking in the long run.

c) Ironwood Decking

This is the most stable and densest among most wood species. The janka hardness of a natural ironwood before the kiln drying process is already 3010 which is considered as one of the top hardest wood in the world. Other than that, ironwood is also considered by building professionals and architects as one of the most stable wood. Hence therefore, ironwood is commonly used for heavy duty decking construction as well as ship building.  However iron wood is very difficult to absorb stains and have a high tendency for hairline cracks. Hence home owners have to understand and accept this common issue for iroon wood.

d) Eco Wood Decking ~ 

With today's rising demand in decking for homes and commercial places, the supply of common wood decking species such as chengal and balau is depleting daily. Hence, there is a strong need for renewable eco friendly decking materials in today's market. Palm wood and 
Accoya®  decking are the next sought after eco decking materials in the coming century.

This is because,

1. Other than having Singapore green label certifications, Accoya
® is very strong against rain or shine. This is because of the detailed kiln drying process done on processing the decking boards.

2. Since both are natural renewable resources, both can be recycled without causing any harmful emission to the surroundings. Being renewable, people can enjoy having beautiful patio decks without affecting the environment.

3. The properties of 
Accoya® are more stable comparable to most decking materials. What it means to the end user, the wood decks will not expand or contracts easily due to change of temperature and humidity. When a deck plank become unstable, it will cause a creaking sound when walked on it. This creaking sound problem has recently been surfacing in some shopping malls' decks in Singapore as well.

4. Having durable and highly stable characteristics, 
Accoya®  require little maintenance in the long run; this will save a lot of money, in terms of maintenance costs, for the owners. 

In summary, by making informed deck buying decision, the consumer will be able to enjoy relaxing on good quality decks at the comfort of their homes and workplaces.