Wood Decking vs Composite Decking. Which one is best?

When it comes to planning your dream deck, it can be hard to choose what material to use. Two of the most common types of decking used are wood and wood-plastic composites. Whether you hire someone to do it or you end up doing it on your own, there are important factors to consider when comparing both wood and wood-plastic composite decking. In this post, pros and cons for both types will be discussed.

Wood Decking

When it comes to wood decking, there are various options. Cedar, redwood, pressure treated pine, etc., are all very common options that are used for decking and railing. There are also more “exotic” options that are out there as well, such as, tiger wood, ipe, and mahogany.

One of the many pros that come with choosing to use wood, is that it is more affordable and readily available. It can also be easily found at any lumber yard. However, even though it may be more affordable and save you in cost initially, it does end up costing more money in the long run. Wood easily fades over the years and in that time it can also splinter, which poses as a danger to children, pets, and bare feet. It also is very high maintenance. Wood decking easily absorbs water if not properly sealed regularly. The wood will also fade over time, so staining it regularly also becomes part of the maintenance. Insects (primarily termites) can also affect the aesthetic, requiring more maintenance for the upkeep of the wood. On average 16-32hrs are spent painting, sealing, cleaning, and doing overall maintenance per year.

Composite Decking

When it comes to composite decking, the maintenance is much lower, only ever requiring sweeping or a good pressure wash. Whereas wood decking requires more money and time over the course of the years, composite decking has an average of 2-4 hours spent on maintenance a year. Composite-wood decking was invented in the late 1980’s, and is made of wood fibers encased in plastic. While early generations of the wood-composite looked more artificial and plastic-like, modern wood-composites resemble more of a authentic appearance and have a more randomized embossed grain. Composite decking is also available at home improvement stores (i.e. Lowe’s, Home Depot). Though this material is more expensive than the wood decking it saves lots of money in the long run.

Insects cannot damage the boards at all, no need for staining/sealing since water cannot be absorbed into the slats, and it cannot splinter, thus making the material far more durable than wood. Composite-wood decking can also be easily bent for any curved sections that you have envisioned for your deck. The only con to this type of decking is the heat consumption, studies show that at temperatures of 109 and above, bare feet can blister. However due to new technology, such as CoolDeck from MoistureShield, heat absorption is reduced up to 35%; making it more bearable on those hot summer days.

In conclusion, it comes down to the budget and the time one is willing to spend on maintaining the aesthetic/structure of the deck. To better help make a final decision on what will be the best choice for your dream deck, it is recommended to compare the wood decking you like best to the composite that is your favorite. This makes it much simpler to compare the two together without becoming overwhelmed.

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