Making a comparison of composite decking materials to wood can often create an ongoing argument between those who favor composite materials to those who prefer wood. Both materials have their pros and cons, and here are a few of both to those considering building a deck in the near future.
Beauty vs. Maintenance
No one can dispute the beauty of an all-wood deck. It’s natural-looking, which makes it work better aesthetically in an outdoor setting. Wood possesses a certain, inimitable feel to it as well. And some species of wood, such as cedar, satisfy the senses with an outdoorsy smell with which nothing else can compare.
It’s also hard to beat in terms of finding all the right sizes with which to work, including supporting beams and joists. All-wood decking materials are also less expensive – at least in the short run. A comparison would not be fair without mentioning these facts.
Composites are created by combining wood byproducts such as sawdust, wood shavings, or wood fibers with plastic (in one form or another). The most outstanding marketability with regard to these products in a comparison of composite decking materials to wood is that composites require no sealing, staining, sanding, or painting – some with guarantees of up to 10 years.
Wood, on the other hand, will need these maintenance chores done every year or two. You also never need worry about the cracking or splitting associated with wood in composite materials.
The downside of “fake wood” in decking materials includes several things. For one, it’s often impossible to find all the support pieces necessary, so treated pine must be used for joists and beams. You will also come up short when it comes to the colors in composite decking.
Although the choices are good, they all fade with time. With wood, you can always re-stain or re-paint, but with composites, the material will have to be replaced. Along with fading, composites also do not handle stains from grease, wine, or other such substances well. If the offending stuff is not cleaned off immediately, you will have the stain for the life of your deck – unless you’re willing to replace the planks.
A comparison of materials must mention costs. Composites can set you back up to twice as much as what you’d pay for all-wood deck-building materials. This alone makes many homeowners pause when budgeting for that perfect outdoor entertainment spot. When you factor in the possibility of needing to replace materials after staining mishaps and/or fading, this creates an even greater strain on the price comparison levels, with wood weighing in as a better deal for most.
Of course, if you’re willing to pay more for not having to do the extra maintenance that an all-wood deck requires, a comparison of composite to wood won’t make you change your mind. Although not as popular market-wise as wood, composites are rapidly gaining ground. So in the end, it’s up to you, the consumer, to decide. And no one can do it for you. After all, there’s really no right or wrong, it’s just a matter of preference – and who in the heck you talk to!