Composite Versus Wooden Decks: The Ultimate Guide
Building a deck on your property is a guaranteed way to enhance its value and opportunity for enjoyment. From getting some sun to gathering with friends and family, many activities are made possible with the right outdoor structure.
If you’ve been thinking of building a new deck on your property, chances are you’ve encountered the inevitable question: wood or composite? Both materials are commonly used to build decks, and each comes with a variety of pros and cons. In this blog post, we’ll outline the benefits and drawbacks of both materials, so you have a better idea of which one to choose for your dream deck.
Wood, the Classic Choice
To this day, wood remains one of the best materials to build with. When they envision a deck, many people likely picture one made from gorgeous planks of naturally patterned lumber. After all, there’s nothing quite like the scent of cedar rising from the boards when warmed by the summer sun.
There are three common types of wood used for building decks: cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated wood. Cedar and redwood are mainly popular for their incredible outdoor durability, offering property owners a way to get a long life and the most value out of their deck. Pressure-treated wood is made from different species of trees compressed together and is a lower-cost alternative that still offers a high degree of durability.
Wood remains beneficial for several reasons, including its relative affordability and beautiful aesthetic appeal. It’s really no wonder that wood is still a popular option for deck building. After all, when composite decking was being developed, it used all the benefits of wood as its jumping-off point.
The Benefits of Choosing Wood
If wood weren’t such a great choice, we wouldn’t continue to use it! There are a few things you can be certain of if you build a wooden deck:
- Incredible beauty
- Increased property value
- Practicality and comfort
Because it’s made from a natural, unprocessed material, your wooden deck will be one of a kind. Over time, it will settle into your property to look like a natural extension of your home.
Other benefits of choosing wooden decking include the ease of changing the color and style. If you go composite, you’re locked into your initial color choice, whereas all it takes is a simple sanding job to choose a different stain for your wooden deck.
The Downsides of a Wood Deck
The main con in choosing wood as your decking material is its vulnerability to the elements. Even though you can effectively seal the wood, the elements or pests can eventually get to it.
Wood can split, stain, and get scratched easily, meaning that your wooden deck may require yearly painting or staining if you want to maintain its beautiful look.
Composite Decks for the Modern Homeowner
In many ways, composite decking is a modern adaptation of wood that seeks to improve upon nature’s building material. Composite deck boards are composed of a highly processed material made from wood flour, PVC, polyethylene, crushed minerals, or a polypropylene blend. They provide a ready-made alternative to wood, coming in pre-treated and pre-colored planks that don’t require staining and pose no risk of warping, rotting, or splintering.
The Pros of Going Composite
The most impressive aspect of composite decking is its strength. Compared with its wood counterpart, composite decking can hold its own in durability and longevity.
One of the significant benefits people enjoy about their composite decks is the lack of maintenance that needs to be done on them. The odd pressure-washing job should do the trick compared to a wood deck’s requirement to be restained and sealed. Your composite deck won’t break down or rot over time as wood inevitably will.
Another positive is that no one will get any splinters while walking across the deck barefoot.
The Cons of Composite
The first con of composite decking to consider right off the bat is pricing. In almost all instances, composite decks are more expensive than wood decks. Another potentially significant con is the amount of research you’ll need to do. Because there are so many product options, it can quickly become overwhelming when shopping for a suitable composite material.
A few other commonly reported cons of using composite decking materials include:
- Extremely hot in summer (sandals are a must!)
- Susceptible to mold
- Expansion and contraction can cause damage
The Environmental Question
The environmental impact of the materials used to build a deck is a growing concern among developers and property owners. Both composite and wood deck materials can play a factor in your construction project’s environmental footprint.
There are environmentally sensitive ways to source your wood and environmentally insensitive methods. Just because wood comes from trees doesn’t mean that it’s an unsustainable practice across the board. There are sustainable ways to harvest trees, and though it might come at a slightly higher price point, it’s worth asking your contractor about sustainably sourced wood.
Composite wood is generally considered to be the environmental choice of the two because it fits into the traditional sustainability model, being built with recycled materials. Composites are also sealed off from the elements, eliminating the need for wood stains or potentially toxic sealants. However, composite decking is a combination of recycled wood and plastic—so whether you want to shoulder the environmental responsibility of using plastic is up to you.
Ask Yourself: What Are You Looking For?
We’ve given you a lot of information about wood versus composite decks, and you may still be unsure which is most suitable for you. The best way to narrow your options is to understand what you want or need from the outset.
When it comes to building a deck, there are a few different elements to focus on, including:
- Curb appeal
- Future additions
Answering all the above questions will help you choose the right material to build your deck.
If you’re looking to build a high-quality deck in the Charlottetown or Moncton area, turn to Atlantic Deck Systems to assist you in finding the right materials for your needs. We’re professional local deck builders with extensive experience providing residents with the right deck for their climate and preferences. Please reach out to us at (902) 836-4426 to book a consultation and discuss your deck-building project!