Composite Decking or Wood?

If you are planning to build a deck for your home one of the first decisions you have to make is whether to build it out of composite decking or wood. Each one has its benefits and its drawbacks.

Composite Decking

Composite decking is manufactured from several materials. This combination includes wood by-products and some sort of plastic. This can be recycled wood, sawdust or wood fiber. The plastic is usually PVC or polyethylene.

This process produces a product that resists rot and insects. Composite decking usually comes with a ten to twenty year warranty. They are water resistant and an excellent choice for building a deck around a swimming pool or a hot tub.

The color of a composite deck will fade over time. It is also prone to undue staining. It is available in an array of colors and textures. It mimics the look of wood. If you want a uniform appearance to your deck, composites will give you that. They are consistent in appearance; they do not have knots or other irregularities like natural wood. Because composites are designed by the manufacturer, they can come with pre-grooved deck boards that make installation easier than with wood.

Composite decking is considered more environmentally-friendly than natural wood. Although it will eventually end up in a dump somewhere unable to degrade, the upfront benefit is that it uses recycled wood and by-products. It is more expensive initially. Over time it will save you money because it needs little to no maintenance.

Wood Decks

Nothing can match the beauty of real wood decks. Wood does require quite a bit of maintenance. It should be cleaned and resealed each year to retain its natural beauty. The look and feel of wood can be restored to its original appearance, this is not so with composite decking.

Wood is actually more durable than composites. Treated wood does have some resistance to environmental agents. It can be damaged by moisture and it can be attacked by insects. If properly cared for and carefully chosen, wood will outlast the ten to twenty year lifespan guarantee of composite decking.

Types of Wood

Cedar is a favorite choice for decks. It has a soft texture and a beautiful grain. It is naturally insect resistant. The pleasant smell of Cedar will remain after it has been cut. Cedar ages beautifully. It will continue to change in color until it becomes fully acclimated after several years of exposure to the elements.

Redwood is similar to cedar in its characteristics. It is a reddish colored wood and a very beautiful choice of wood for a deck.

Pine is another popular choice for decks. It is less expensive than cedar or redwood. Pine is light-weight and easily painted. It varies from extremely soft to very hard in texture. It is usually pressure treated to resist rot and insects. Cedar and redwood are not. This chemical treatment can cause discoloration and pine must be regularly cleaned and resealed to protect its color.

Mahogany will last about forty years when properly maintained. It has a beautiful rich color. It is slightly more expensive than cedar. It is very durable with little splintering.

Cypress is harder to find than the above mentioned woods. It is a strong wood. Each individual piece will have a unique grain and your deck will be truly one of a kind.

Get It in Writing

Regardless of your choice of material, the most important factor in building a deck is to have a well-designed plan. If hiring a contractor make sure to inspect the agreement and warranty. Make sure you are well covered and get it in writing. If you are building your own deck get the wood manufacturer’s warranty in writing as well.

One final note on composite decking is that there have been some complaints and even lawsuits against certain manufacturers. The issues were about rotting, splintering and degrading. Composite wood manufacturers are continuing to improve their products but there may be defects that will appear over time. Wood, when properly cared for will retain its beauty and last a long time.