Wood vs Composite decking – how do you choose?

As a home improvement contractor and a builder of decks in Massachusetts, I’m often asked “wood vs composite decking” what’s the best choice in decking material? Well, when you are doing your research on wood vs composite decking, you need to ask yourself what level of maintenance are you willing to do in order to maintain your deck. In my opinion, wood vs composite decking both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Composite Decking Material

Composite decking material also know as “plastic wood” is made from recycled wood and plastic as an environmentally friendly option that is growing in popularity. Benefits like durability, color and low-maintenance have increased the replacement of natural wood for your deck. Other benefits, composite decking doesn’t require painting and staining. The only maintenance that needs to be done is to wash it a couple of times a year. Composite decking will cost you about 25-35 % more depending on the chosen material over the cost of traditional pressure-treated wood decking.

Wood Decking Material

The most common building material for outdoor decks is still wood – mostly pressure treated decking and lumber (southern yellow pine). Pressure treated lumber is created by forcing chemicals into the wood under intense pressures – hence the name pressure-treated. These chemicals act as preservatives for the wood and help keep moisture out and prevent rotting, decay, and insect damage. Pressure treated wood is highly recommended in areas where the wood needs to come in contact with the ground, like in fences or posts, or concrete footings. Other popular woods for decking include redwood (which resists decay naturally), red cedar, and mahogany. Wood decks do take more work to maintain, so plan on a regular system of painting, sealing, and cleaning.

Once again, wood vs composite decking would be entirely up to your preference in deck maintenance. I never heard anyone say that a wood deck that isn’t properly maintained can’t last 20-40 years. So like I said, do a little research and evaluate your maintenance requirements. In the long run, the cost of using composite decking out weights the upfront pricing.

For a Massachusetts deck contractor -or- NH deck builder

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  1. Good article, I would say that wood decks are far more environmentally friendly than composite decks. It takes a lot more energy to create a composite material than cutting a tree.

  2. Building a deck is a great project for spring. The first and probably most appealing to many homeowners is the fact that composite materials require much less maintenance than wood. Wood material when building a deck is a not sensible for me. I know that composite materials are the environmentally friendly choice and on the other hand I know that I simply prefer the look and feel of wood.

  3. Great post.It’s interesting that you mention the comparison between composite decking and wood…or rather that the composite decking has been manufactured to resemble wood.

  4. As you mentioned, the initial cost of composite decking can be greater than a traditional, real wood deck. However, the lack of maintenance and overall longevity make it a smarter choice – in my opinion. It’s also more resistant to stains from spills and extreme weather. Wood decking will still have its place in some projects, but people are starting to catch on to the benefits of composite material.

  5. Composite decks are a great choice to consider. The only drawbacks to using composite for your deck is the upfront cost. It’s still quite expensive, however, if you look at the overall picture, the long-term savings is huge when compared to wood vs composite decking.

  6. Nice post and blog. this article is very informative. I would say that wood decks are far more environmentally friendly than composite decks. thanks for posting it.