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Composite Decking vs. Wood Decking……What is the best Choice?

When it comes to choosing the best deck building materials most people are unsure of the proper choice mostly because they are not aware of the properties of each product.  In this article we will discuss all the pros and cons of each different as well as the cost associated with each.  A good rule of thumb when choosing a brand of products is to stay away from new or unheard of brands as they are just developing their technology and testing their products.

Composite Decking

This composite deck trim is a nice compliment to the natural colors of the western red cedar

Composite materials have become increasingly popular especially with great product improvements over the first generation of to hit the markets.  The first generation was peppered with problems from mold issues to warping boards.  The newer generations are the capped composite products that look amazing and out perform any standard uncapped composite.  A capped composite is always your best choice provided that it’s a reputable manufacturer.  Your reputable manufacturers would be:  TREX, TimberTech & Fiberon

One of the pros of composite decking is that it’s virtually maintenance free.  You don’t have to stain, seal or re-finish your deck every couple years which will save you money or time (it you like to do things yourself) in the long run.  While composite decking is a maintenance free product you still do have to take care of the product.  You should wash it 2-3 times a year with a mild soap to clean forming mold from becoming visible.   It is suggested that uncapped composites should be cleaned more frequently due to the fact that the organic fibers are exposed to the elements.

While composites are mold resistant it doesn’t mean that mold can’t form on them.  Mold can form on any surface if the correct living conditions are met which are a combination of temperature, moisture and food for the spores.  If you wash your deck and remove organic debris from your deck you should have any problems.  Anyone that suggests that composite products are mold free are misleading you and that information is definitely false.

One of the disadvantages that composites have over wood products is that you can’t refinish them.  Take for example you moved your man sized BBQ across the deck gouging the surface.  If it were a wood product you could repair it by sanding out the damaged area and re-staining.  With a composite product you are not able to do that and you would have to replace the damaged area.  Our suggestion is to be cautious when working on your new composite deck.

Another disadvantage to composite decking is the price,  you should expect to pay double the price of a cedar deck in the same style.  However, Angie’s List has reviewed this subject and has determined that on a 14′ x 20′ deck that you would pay $4600 in additional maintenance costs if you used pressure treated wood over the original costs if you had build your deck with a composite product.

 

Wood Decks (Cedar & Pressure Treated)

This cedar fence & deck combo provides an excellent BBQ atmosphere

Wood decks are still a strong competitor in today’s market even though composite is a better product.  Why is that you ask?  Well first of all some people just like the natural look of a wood deck, secondly it’s less expensive (which is usually the deciding factor).

Wood decks do have their advantages as we mentioned above that a wood deck’s surface can be repaired.  Another advantage to using wood (mainly cedar) is that you can stain it to the color that you desire instead of choosing a color that is manufactured into the product.  You could also change the stain color (not very easily mind you) of your deck.

A wood deck is far from maintenance free with repairs, staining & splinters.  Wood when exposed to the elements will twist, cup, warp, crack, splinter and rot…..all of which you would be to tend to every year.  Along with all the regular repairs you will have to re-stain your deck every couple years to try to keep it looking its best.

 

Hopefully this article will help you in you decking material decisions, however you can still contact us to discuss your options or request a quote.