This blog post was edited from information taken from Decks.com
Over the last decade or so, the popularity of composite decking has waged a new question for future deck owners everywhere – wood or composite decking? While each have its own share of pros and cons, including cost, durability, maintenance/labor and lifespan, the checkmarks in the pro-composite decking column seem to be stacking up. However, there are many dedicated wood users who advocate for the material, and thus the composite decking vs wood debate is still in full force.
Maintenance & Durability Composite decks are made of durable, long-lasting materials that are stain-resistant and will hold up well to harsh weather, as well as natural wear and tear for up to 50 years. Unlike a natural wood deck that can last 10-30 years before needing repair, composite won’t splinter, rot or become susceptible to insect damage.
Additionally, most composite decks have built-in UV resistance, so they won’t fade or lighten as much as natural wood would over time. But if your composite deck does fade over time due to direct sunlight exposure, you can stain or paint it to make it look new again. Many people don’t realize that staining or painting composite is possible, but it’s doable and can enhance the beauty of your deck over time, keeping it looking like new.
Costs Is composite decking better than wood? The primary drawback to composite decking is arguably the higher price tag. At about double the price per square foot, the costs can rack up fast when compared to natural wood. However, due to the pros associated with composite decking (including the low maintenance, durability, and the long-lasting nature of the material) the cost of composite decking can be offset over time, eventually saving you money in the long run.
Wood Decking The original and oldest choice for decking materials, decks have been using wood for their makeup since their existence, so we know it’s a proven material that looks great. When it comes to wood, the biggest pro is that it’s economical, long-lasting and comes in several different types of wood from cheaper, pressure-treated options or higher quality varieties like cedar, thermory, and ipe.
Maintenance & Durability While composite decking is made to look like natural wood, some people prefer the authenticity of actual wood. However, as durable as wood decking is, it’s still far more susceptible to maintenance costs, time and effort. Most decks require a full on retreatment consisting of sanding, cleaning, staining or painting and sealing every two to five years. If left untreated, the deck will fade and eventually rot.
Additionally, wood decks are known to splinter or warp due to the elements or normal wear and tear from use. This is especially noticeable in pressure-treated wood. However, on average, a well-cared for deck can last up to 20 years or more. Still not as long as composite, but an admirable amount of time, if properly treated.
Choosing Between Composite or Pressure-Treated Wood Decking If you’re on a budget and the price tag of a composite deck is just too much, then a wooden deck is a great alternative. The lowest cost per square foot for a pressure treated deck sells for about half the price of composite. Even high-end wood like cedar will still come in under the price for the lowest composite decking.
The argument of wood or composite deck all comes down to preference in the end. If you just absolutely love the rich, natural look of real wood and the maintenance doesn’t bother you, then natural wood is for you. However, if you want a deck that is low maintenance and can last nearly twice as long as a natural deck, then maybe you fall in the composite camp. It also depends on whether the home you’re in is what you consider to be temporary or your “forever” home. The choice is up to you!