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Composite vs. Wood Decking

Composite vs. Wood Decking – Which should you choose?

One of the most important elements of your home deck project is what type of decking to use. There are so many variations of products to choose from and all offer different characteristics. We want to share the largest differences between composite and wood to help you make the best decision for your home!  Each material has its own list of pros and cons, see where these matters rate on your scale of importance. So, let’s dive into the main characteristics and differences between composite vs. wood decking.

Composite Decking

Composite decking is typically made from a blend of plastic and wood fibers.  Compared to earlier products, today’s composite materials are much lighter, stronger, and easier to build with. Composite decking requires no need for standing, ceiling, or staining/painting.  Maintenance cost and upkeep are also much less.  Typical maintenance on a composite deck is semiannual cleaning to keep the deck looking its best and prevent the growth of unwanted mold.  With proper care, composite decks hold up to harsh weather and natural wear for up to 50 years! Many composites have built in UV resistance, so it won’t fade like typical wooden decks do.  With the advances in composite materials, it’s much easier to find materials that look similar to wood grain and match your homes’ colors.  The largest negative is the cost of composite materials.  Typically, composite materials are more expensive to purchase and install compared to their wood alternative.  It is worth noting that with the high cost of wood products today, composite materials are becoming increasingly more attractive due how close in cost each material is. So, let’s dive in and consider our options for the material of your new deck.


Wood Decking

Let’s talk natural wood.  Wood decking materials include treated, cedar, and redwood, but the most used wood decking is treated yellow pine.  While composite decking is made to look natural, some people prefer the authentic look of actual wood.  If price is your biggest priority, wood decking offers cheaper material cost and often lower installation cost.  A typical composite deck will be priced around 35 to 45 dollars per sqft. and a typical wood deck will be priced around 25 to 35 dollars per sqft.  Let’s discuss the maintenance involved in upkeep of a wood deck.  What decks are more susceptible to insect infestation, rotting, warping, splintering, staining, and fading compared to composite decks.  Even with proper upkeep most wood decks last between 10 and 30 years.  Maintenance on wooden decks includes annual cleaning and refinishing every 2 to 5 years.  This maintenance can be very time consuming and expensive which adds up over time.


The Choice is Yours

Your decision to choose the right decking materials should be based off your long-term plans and interest in maintenance.  Composite decking materials are slightly more expensive initially but require little to no maintenance and last almost twice as long!  While wood decking materials are less expensive upfront but require much more time-consuming maintenance later.  If you are unsure in which product is best suited for your situation, we’d love to help guide you through the decision. If you have more questions about your decision on composite vs. wood decking material, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Red Branch Construction today!

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