One important choice you have to make as you plan your dream deck is what kind of decking to use. Composites decking and wood decking are two of the most popular choices. The pros and cons of wood vs composite decking will help you choose the right material for your deck, whether you want to do it yourself or hire a pro.
The first thing you should know about choosing a deck material is that most decks use treated lumber for the framing. This is the structural part of the deck that you don’t usually see unless you’re underneath it. So the decision process usually involves only the materials that will make up the decking surface and railings.
Choices for Wood Decking
Decking and fences can be made from a lot of different types of wood. Cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated pine boards are all common choices at U.S. lumberyards. Tigerwood, ipe (pronounced “EE-pay”), and mahogany are some tropical hardwood decking choices for people who like unusual wood species.
What is put together to make composite decking?
The first wood-plastic composite decking boards were made in the late 1980s. They are made of wood fibers wrapped in plastic and are also known as “composite wood decking.” You can easily find composite decking at big home improvement shops like Lowe’s and The Home Depot, as well as at local lumberyards all over the United States.
Composite decking is becoming more popular as more builders and users learn about the problems with wood decking.
Which is Better: Wood or Composite Decking?
A lot of people choose wood decks because it’s common, easy to find, and cheap. But wood decks have problems like splinters, and rot, and need a lot of upkeep. Some people are worried that composite wood decking won’t look as nice as wood, even though it is easy to keep up. However, improvements in manufacturing have made composites look like rich, natural wood without the work of keeping a wood deck.
Here are some important things to think about when choosing between wood and plastic decking:
Which one looks better?
In the past, composite decks often looked fake and plastic-like. But now, some composites come in a range of colors and have a random embossed grain pattern that makes each board unique.
Which Gets Rid of Moisture Better?
One big problem with wood decks is that the boards get wet easily. For wood decking to last longer, it needs to be stained, sealed, painted, or sealed with a stain or sealer on a frequent basis. Composite decking brands are completely resistant to water at the core. This means that they can be placed in areas with a lot of moisture and not rot.
Which one needs the least upkeep?
To protect against damage from temperature, moisture, and pests, wood decking needs to be painted, stained, and sealed on a frequent basis. How often should you paint, stain, and seal a wood deck? No way! To keep the boards of composite decks looking good and strong, all you have to do is sweep or wash them.
What Can’t Be Hurt by Insects?
Pests like bugs and mice can damage wood decking. Paint and sealant can slow down damage, but they won’t stop it completely. Termites and other pests that eat wood can’t hurt composite decking, and it doesn’t need to be painted or sealed.
What Keeps Splinters Away?
All wood decking will splinter over time, especially if it is exposed to changes in temperature and wetness. Small pieces of wood are wrapped in plastic to make composite decks. This means that it won’t break when the weather changes. For kids and pets, whose feet are more likely to get hurt, this is especially important in places like pool areas where people often walk barefoot.
Which is the Easiest to Work With?
Most people already have the tools they need to cut and join wood and plastics. As far as being better than wood, composite decking is the fact that it can be bent more easily to make curved deck parts.
In terms of surface temperature, which is cooler?
Wood and composite decks react to heat and cold in different ways. In the past, wood decking has been better than composites in the summer because composites can get too hot in full sunlight because they are so dense.
But new ways of making things, make composite decking up to 35% less likely to absorb heat than regular covered composites in the same colors. This means that your deck stays cooler on hot days.
Did you know that heat as low as 109 degrees Fahrenheit can cause blisters on the feet? That 35% difference can make a big difference, especially when it’s really hot outside.
What is the Cost Difference Between Wood vs Composite?
Cost is the main thing that people think about when they are trying to decide between wood and composite decking. Among the pros and cons of wood decks, the fact that it is cheap is clearly a pro. Wood decking is usually cheaper to buy than composite decking, especially when you first buy it.
Wood is cheaper at first, but composite decking generally pays for itself in two to three years, when you add up the cost of maintenance every year. The difference in price also relies on the type of wood chosen, the brand of composite decking, and the state of the local market.
Making Your Choice
Find the wood decking that you like the most and then compare it to the composite decking that you like the most. This will help you narrow down your choices. So, you don’t have to compare dozens of options side by side. It’s now easier to make a choice between cedar vs. composite, oak vs. composite, or treated lumber vs. composite.