For most Americans, the outdoor living space represents a tranquil portion of the house that you can go to relax, refresh, and reflect. Nothing feels more like home than the comfort of a well-designed patio and veranda. No matter how well you design the deck, the beauty and functionality of the outdoor spaces boil down to the decking material.

Before kick-starting your deck replacement project, it is essential to understand that decking options have grown over the last few decades. There are now more composite, plastic, and wood products from which to choose.

The debate between wood vs composite decking materials has been on for decades with mixed results. A 2016 CBS news report shows that wood materials still hold the largest market share at 75%. Composites are slowly growing in popularity, accounting for 16% of the $7 billion per year deck market.

There are several factors that you need to keep in mind when comparing wood vs composite decking materials. Here is a more in-depth look.

Wood Decking

Wood decking materials utilizes natural wood and other high-quality materials. Most lumberyards will offer cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated pine lumber. The inexpensive Southern Yellow Pine boards are chemically treated to resist rotting, insect, and mold damage. Cedar and redwood naturally have the properties gained through treating pine lumber. You can also opt for exotic wood species such as IPE and mahogany.

Composite Decking

The alternative option in the wood versus composite decking debate involves the use of wood fibers encased in plastic. The composite boards are manufactured by mixing wood and recycled plastic and pressing them into boards that resemble natural wood panels. Given how they’re engineered, composite decking boards are not susceptible to rotting or insect damage.

Comparison of Wood Versus Composite Decking Materials

1. Durability

With durability, composite decking has some advantages. Composite boards are water- and insect-resistant, problems that can plague wood decking. Moisture and bugs can cause the wooden boards to crack, warp, or splinter. However, some homeowners complain that composites in high-traffic areas can wear out much faster than the wood counterparts.

2. Maintenance

Wood decking will require regular maintenance tasks, such as power-washing, sanding, and re-staining the panels to keep the deck looking fresh. Manufacturers brand composite decking materials as ‘zero-maintenance’ due to the low maintenance cost incurred. You simply have to schedule an annual power washing to wash out the pollen, dirt, or mold that has accumulated over time.

3. Costs

The wood vs composite decking materials debate must consider the initial expenses involved. Experts point out that wood decking is cheaper, averaging $15 to $25 per square foot. Costs may be higher in hardwood products. Composite materials may set you back $30 to $45 per square foot. When choosing your decking materials, you’ll need to consider if you’d rather spend more at the outset to build a deck initially with composite decking, or spend more annually with regular upkeep to maintain your wood deck.

Bottom Line

When designing your new deck, you may be torn between wood vs composite decking materials. Ultimately, your choice will come down to personal taste, style and maintenance preferences, and budget. Whatever you choose, Alexander Lumber can supply you with quality wood or composite decking materials to complete your outdoor project.