Spring has sprung and if you’re a homeowner, that means you’re probably thinking about decks and outdoor spaces. One of the biggest questions on every homeowner’s mind is about decking materials: Wood vs. composite decking? Both have advantages and disadvantages that you’ll want to learn about. Let’s take a look at both types so that you can decide what kind of deck you’d like to install this summer!
There’s a reason why wood was considered the decking material of choice in the decades leading up to the development of composite materials. Properly treated wood decks are strong against the elements, long lasting and they have a woodsy appeal that is hard to mimic with any other material. Other advantages include:
- The ability to finish the deck in a wide range of colors from natural stains to paints.
- Wood deck materials tend to be heat resistant, which is to say that they won’t bow or warp in high heat conditions.
- Cost is definitely a factor. Of course, you can spend an exorbitant amount on exotic woods but a basic wood deck costs anywhere between $7 and $15 per square foot.
But what about the disadvantages of wood? Here are some of the cons that you’ll need to think about:
- Wood decks need more maintenance to keep them looking great. They should be sealed every two years and you’ll likely need to replace the occasional board or remove splinters as they crop up.
- These decks stand up to heat but humidity can be a problem, causing warping or in the long term, mold and mildew which leads to rot.
- The color is changeable. No matter how you treat or seal your decking lumber, it will age and fade. This can be a plus if you enjoy the added character but if you’d prefer your deck to look the same year after year, then composite might be the way to go.
When composite decking first hit the market, it got a bad rap because as it turned out, the boards were prone to warping in high heat. Since that time, however, huge leaps and bounds have been made in the composite lumber industry. Today, this type of decking is just as popular as wood for a variety of reasons.
- Modern composite decking such as the materials produced by TimberTech give you the look and feel of real lumber.
- Even though it looks like real lumber, maintenance concerns are lessened. You won’t need to refinish a composite deck or remove splinters. Modern composites are also highly resistant to mold, mildew and moisture.
- Colors are normally guaranteed against fading which means that your deck should stay true to color for 20 to 30 years at least.
- Most major manufacturers of composite decking use sustainable sources or recycled materials to produce their product.
Modern composite decking comes with very few downsides. The major factor that steers some homeowners into choosing wood is cost. On average, a composite deck can run between $30 and $45 per square foot to complete — and that’s without upscale extras like complex railings or built-in benches. However, some still prefer the larger initial investment of composites because the lack of future maintenance costs balances out the lifetime cost of the deck.
What type of deck will you choose? Both composites and wood deck materials are solid choices, which means your decision will likely be based on factors like looks, cost and climate. No matter which material you choose, you’ll be able to look forward to a beautiful deck for many years to come.