Wood vs. Composite Decking Materials: Let’s CompareNov 28, 2022
Adding or remodeling a new deck can create a beautiful outdoor living and hosting space. They are perfect for summer barbecues, to casual evenings. But depending on where you live, what you desire and your budget, the decking material that best suits your needs may differ. Should you choose wood decking materials or composite decking materials?
How to Choose Between Wood and Composite Decking
The wood vs. composite debate depends on the homeowners’:
Home improvement is about weighing the benefits, like time versus money or long-term value versus short-term needs. One debate that many homeowners encounter, specifically when exploring decking options, is whether to choose natural wood or composite materials. The two most common decking materials are wood and composite.
Wood Decking Boards vs. Composite Decking Boards
When it comes to decking materials, there are more options to choose from today than ever before. When wood was the only material available, species like redwood and cedar were the typical deck-building materials of choice. However, composite decking represents the fastest-growing decking materials sold today. Thanks to the latest advances in manufacturing, today’s durable composite deck boards continue to rise in popularity because they successfully imitate the appearance of natural wood, but cannot warp, crack or fade over time.
Look below at how these two materials compare and see which deck-building material is most appropriate for your decking needs.
The original and oldest choice for decking materials, decks have been using wood for since the beginning, 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 less expensive, pressure-treated options like yellow pine or higher quality varieties like cedar and redwood. The primary reason why most homeowners prefer wood to other decking materials is that it’s cost-effective.
The initial costs of purchasing the materials needed for a wood deck are relatively low. If you decide to use pinewood, you will incur half the cost of a composite deck. Even if you choose to use a higher quality of wood like redwood or cedar, the price will still be significantly lower than composite decking.
- Durability and Maintenance
Wood is highly durable but requires effort, time, and more expenses to maintain. Regular cleaning, sanding, painting, or staining is needed every two years depending on the weather and wear. If you leave it unattended, your deck will rot or lose its aesthetic look. 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.
Common Types of Wood Decks
In order to compare, let’s discuss some of the more common types of wood decks used in residential projects.
- Redwood Deck
Popular on the west coast but used country-wide, redwood is known for its longevity and beauty. Although when it comes in contact with moisture or concrete, it can begin to deteriorate. Therefore, it is recommended to use pressure-treated material for framing and support. When properly maintained by keeping a good weather sealant/stain, it can last many years.
- Cedar Decking
Cedar is standard used for many kinds of decking and construction projects. It has many of the same characteristics as Redwood and needs pressure-treated pine for the framing and the weather sealant.
- Tropical Hardwood Decking
Ipe, tigerwood decking and red balau woods, from Southeast Asia and Brazil’s tropical regions, have become popular in recent years due to their extreme durability and density and are a great choice for a deck. The tropical hardwoods seem to have the best longevity of all woods. The heavy density weather sealant is not required unless you don’t mind reapplying about every six months. It is relatively affordable considering these types of wood are imported.
- Pressure-Treated Wood Deck
Probably one of the most affordable, this type of wood has been treated with a chemical preservative to stave off rot, fungi, and pests and therefore has great longevity.
Apply a good weather sealant/stain as needed to maintain the appearance on a pressure-treated deck. It also helps to minimize warping as well as cracking or swelling.
The composite decking material is a combination of wood and artificial materials made to mimic wood. It is made using mainly recycled plastic, wood fibers, bonding agents, and other materials. Although it may not look as original as wood, it’s more durable and easy to maintain.
Composite is made up of stain-resistant materials that can last up to 50 years. Also, 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 and can enhance the beauty of your deck over time, keeping it looking like new.
The cost of installing a composite deck is higher than that of wood decking. However, it’s a worthwhile investment if you don’t want to incur annual maintenance costs.
Some common questions regarding composite decking:
- How does the cost of composite decking compare to pressure-treated wood? Composite decking will cost more than pressure-treated wood, for a good reason. The price is higher because of its lifespan, resistance to insects and rot, splintering, and warranty. It also requires minimal maintenance giving it an advantage over pressure-treated wood.
- Will my deck look like plastic? It depends on what you purchase. When it comes to composite decking, the price point determines its quality. So, if you want a good-quality composite decking that won’t appear plastic, you’ll have to invest a little more.
- What is the maintenance of composite decking? Just because a composite deck is low-maintenance doesn’t mean you won’t need any maintenance. Manufacturers recommend using a mild dish detergent diluted in warm water, a bristled broom, and a hose to clean it. Just scrub it down and rinse it off, it’s that easy. Do not use strong detergents like bleach or a power washer on composite decking as it might ruin the finish.
- Does composite decking get hot? While the first generation of composite decking retained so much heat, the newer composite decking choices do not retain as much heat. If it is a concern, avoid selecting a dark-colored board that tends to retain and absorb more heat because of the color.
- What colors are available? Depending on your chosen brand, you will find varying colors for your preference. Most resemble actual wood colors from brown tones to grey shades.
Choosing Between Composite or Pressure-Treated Wood Decking
The argument of wood or composite deck all comes down to preference in the end. If you absolutely love the rich, natural look of real wood and the time and money for maintenance are not an issue, then perhaps natural wood is for you. But, if you want a deck that’s low maintenance and can last nearly twice as long as a natural deck, then maybe you select a composite option. The choice is up to you!
Need to Build a Top-Quality Custom Deck for Your Home? If you’re ready to install a top-quality custom deck for your Roswell, Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Woodstock, Atlanta, Georgia home, Contact Home Wizards Remodeling today at 770-998-1809. We will enhance your home’s outdoor space with the dream deck you have always envisioned! Besides custom decks, we can also upgrade your home exterior with our professional siding, gutter, painting, window replacements, patios, and outdoor living services.