Weighing the benefits before choosing among real wood and composite outdoor decking is the wise thing to do! What’s even wiser? Focusing on the disadvantages of the deck materials! Think about it! The benefits are, to put it simply, benefits. They are good things – always welcome. What can make your life difficult is the disadvantages, the things you don’t know about the wood or the composite decking and will come as a bad surprise afterwards. Don’t you want to be informed right from the start about the good and the bad of composite and wooden decks? Here’s your chance.
Defining composite and wood decking
Talking about wood decks is quite abstract. Why? Because there’s more than just one timber choice. Decks can be made of softwood or hardwood, anything from ipe and redwood to cedar decking. And while all wood species are beautiful, they are not created equal. They differ in regard to their appearance, performance, longevity, resistance, and cost. So, the pros and cons of wood decks are not exactly the same on all species. Take for example, durability. Naturally, hardwood is much more durable than softwood. Therefore, when you read the advantages and disadvantages of wood decks, you should keep this in mind. Or talk with your deck contractor specifics about the wood that interests you the most.
Something similar happens with composite decks. These are a mix of wood fibers and compounds, like pigments, UV-stabilizers, polyethylene. And while, they are all similar, not all composite decks are the same. Consequently, their advantages and disadvantages are affected accordingly.
Now, in order to understand which deck material will best match your personal needs, we need to compare them side-by-side. Ready?
Wood wins, hands down. No matter how new technology has affected the industry – in a good way, and contributed to the improvement of composite decking, it doesn’t even begin to compare with the beauty of real wood. There’s something truly elegant about wood, while you can choose the species you like based on its hue and natural grains. Over the years, wood’s color changes a bit. For example, ipe decks take a silvery gray patina look. And if you don’t like that, you can stain or paint it. But no matter how good quality composite decks are, they always miss the charm of the real thing.
The advantage of composite is the material’s high resistance to nearly everything – the weather, the moisture, the insects, stains, UV-rays – the works. And so, although wood is extremely durable – maybe, even more than composite, it’s not our winner in this battle. First of all, the polymers contained in composite decks make the material more flexible. And then, wood is susceptible to splintering, warping, rotting, scratching.
So, wood is strong but not resistant. Composite is pretty strong and also, extremely resistant. Doing the math is easy. While wood may last for more than a decade – some hard woods can last up to 30 years with good maintenance, composite may reach 50 years of life.
Maintenance is always a consideration when you plan deck building and checking out materials. It’s an additional hassle, it’s an extra expense. While both materials need good cleaning at least once or twice a year, composite is basically a maintenance-free deck. While woods differ, most species would require maintenance every two years or so. It’s not so much about doing some required deck repair – this is done when needed. It’s mostly about keeping wood in good shape and prevent it from drying out – a problem that will make it split. It’s about sanding and sealing it so that it won’t be affected by moisture. And so, we say yes to composite if we want to reduce the need for maintenance.
Although the price of wood is overall high, wooden decks are generally cheaper than composite. In some cases, the price per sq ft for composite decking may be even double than the price of wood. Comparing the cost of the two materials, wood costs less to buy and more to maintain, while composite will cost you more at the beginning but not in the long term. The choice is yours.