Before building your dream deck, you need to choose your building materials wisely. Wood is often hailed as the most quality decking material—it looks great, weathers well, and is easily the most cost-effective building material. On the other hand, wood-plastic composite decking is low maintenance and weather-resistant, making it the most popular timber deck alternative on the market. Whether you plan to hire a contractor or build the deck yourself, this article will compare the pros and cons of building your deck with wood vs wood-plastic composite.
Most people consider natural wood decking more attractive than composite decking. This is because wood decking looks, feels, and smells natural and authentic (simply because it is). In contrast, earlier generations of composite decking often look artificial and cheap. However, the quality of appearance for composite decking varies depending on the company you decide to purchase from. Products are now available in the composite industry to mimic the streaking and texture of real wood.
Wooden decks require more effort to maintain than composite decks. Homeowners of wooden decks should expect to regularly clean, sand, stain and seal their decks for regular annual upkeep. This refinishing is important to maintain the structural integrity and visual appeal of the wooden deck. In comparison, composite decking only requires brooming and washing occasionally in terms of expected maintenance.
Durability and Lifespan
The issue many owners face with wooden decking can be attributed to moisture. Wooden decks often suffer rot, splintering, and swelling which leads to warpage in the boards. Without regular upkeep, the boards in a wooden deck readily absorb any moisture in the air. The average lifespan of a wooden decking is 10 to 15 years. In comparison, the average lifespan of a composite decking is 25 to 30 years. Composite decks do not splinter, rot, or crack, making it the safer option for bare feet. In addition, wood-plastic composite decks can be made fully moisture resistant. This allows composites to be installed in high moisture locations without many of the maintenance complications of a wooden deck.
During the warmer seasons, owners of composite decks often complain about their decks being extremely hot under direct sunlight. Heat absorption is increased by the plastic contained in composites, making these decks hot during the warmer seasons. However, this varies depending on the company; newer generations of wood-plastic composites are able to significantly reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the decking. During the peak summer months, wood decking is more forgiving to your feet and overall deck comfort.
The initial cost of installing wood decking is less than composite decking. On average, the cost of installing wood decking is roughly $25 per square foot (depending on the type of wood used). Meanwhile, the cost of installing composite decking is $35 per square foot. That being said, wood decks are more susceptible than composite decks to mold and decay. Therefore, the additional cost of maintaining a wooden deck is higher—owners should expect to regularly clean, stain, and seal their wooden deck on an annual basis.
Wood decking installation is cheaper than composite decking. However, over time, there is a higher price involved with maintaining the appearance and integrity of a wooden deck. In terms of maintenance, composite decking holds a clear advantage over wooden decking. If you’re still unsure about which deck type will best suit your needs, contact Home Care Contractors to speak with an experienced tradesman. Their expert opinions will help you form an informed decision on how to build the best deck for your property.