As a deck builder and deck building contractor in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia, one of the most common questions and deciding factor when we first connect with our homeowners to build a new deck is question of whether to use wood or composite decking. There is a lot of difference between wood and composite decking and we will outline some key factors that can help if you decide on which to go with. Before proceeding lets first define what is wood decking and what is composite decking.
Wood vs. Composite Decking
Wood decking is exactly what is, just wood. With wood decking you usually have the choice of the types of woods to use, this includes the common cedar wood, redwood or pressure treated wood.
Composite decking on a the other hand is a material made of a mixture of wood and plastic. With composite decking you usually have more of a color selection to choose from compared regular wood, unless you opt to paint your wood.
Now that you know the difference between wood and composite decking lets us get to the pro and cons of each type of option.
Usage should be the first thing to things to consider when deciding if you want to go with a wood vs. composite decking. Finding out what you want to use the deck for helps you decide on the size and can also help make a decision on which decking to go with. Some questions to ask are; how often will you use the deck? do you have pets? will you be barbecuing on the deck? etc.
Having pets or walking barefooted is another thing to think about as one of the deck options will have splinters.
Having pets or walking barefooted is another thing to think about as unlike composite decks, wood decks will have splinters, this can affect you walking barefooted and even cause harm to your pets as well. Composite decking will be a better option to avoid splinters as they are made from compressed fibers. So if you have pets or love walking barefooted outside having a composite deck will be the safer and better option.
The maintenance of wood vs. composite decking are significantly different. Constant use of the deck means that this deck will often get dirty, which will increase the maintenance. With wood decking, homeowners must regularly have to pressure wash, paint, stain, or seal the decking to preserve it. Composite decking on the other hand, only require sweeping and washing at most to keep the boards look fresh, which if you live in an area with balance in seasons you may not have to do anything as when rain falls, it will clean it on its own.
Moisture is one thing a lot of homeowners don't take into consideration when deciding between wood vs. composite decking. Reason moisture is important is because without the regular application of stains, sealers or paint, wood decking is prone to warping, splintering, cracking and/or rotting. On the other hand composite decking are fully moisture-resistant to the core, which allows them to be installed in high moisture conditions without decaying.
Unlike most wood decking, composite decking is not prone to damage from termites and other wood-destroying insects.
Aesthetics and overall look is something to consider when trying to choose between wood vs. composite decking. Composite decking is definitely the most popular option when it comes to looks. This is because the composite wood already comes with a lot of color options to choose from. I understand that might be asking well, you can just paint the wood. Though that is a good point, do you prefer something that was initially manufactured with the color or do you want to go with wood and trust that the contractor or person painting your wood can do a job even paint around the whole deck? The choice is yours. Another thing to keep in mind is that wood types like pressure treated wood may not be able to accept wood as soon as it is installed. You may have to wait for a few weeks or months before it is ready to accept paint.
The cost to build wood vs composite decking is greatly different. Typically, wood decking is lower cost to purchase than composites, especially in the initial purchase. However, although the initial cost of wood is less, composite usually ends up paying for itself within 2-3 years when including the cost of annual maintenance. The price differential also depends on the type of wood that was picked vs the brand of composite decking, and local market prices
Though composite decking will always be the better option with usage, functionality & look. The real deciding factor might be your budget. At Bonn Group America Construction we will always recommend composite decking for longevity, usage, lower maintenance and overall aesthetics.
We are here to help if you ever need assistance with your wood or composite decking.