Home ImprovementA Comparison of Wood and Composite Decking

A Comparison of Wood and Composite Decking

The material to be chosen is one of the most significant selections you must make while building your ideal deck. The most common alternatives are wood and wood-plastic composites. We will help you choose the best decking material, whether you plan to install it yourself or hire a professional, by comparing wood and composite decking of the benefits and drawbacks..

The first thing to know about choosing a deck material is that most decks use treated lumber for the framing, which is the structural part of the deck that you don’t usually see unless underneath it.” As a result, the decision-making process is usually limited to the materials that compose the decking surface and handrails.

Options for Wood Decking

A wide range of wood types are appropriate for use as decking and balustrade. Cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated pine are common materials in lumberyards across the United States. Tropical hardwood decking options such as tigerwood, ipe (pronounced “EE-pay”), and mahogany may appeal to homeowners interested in exotic wood species.

What Makes Up Composite Decking?

Wood-plastic composite decking boards (sometimes known as “composite wood decking”) were invented in the late 1980s. They are made of wood fibers encased in plastic. Composite decking is available in big-box home improvement stores like The Home Depot and Lowe’s, as well as regional lumberyards across the country.

As people become more aware of the problems connected with wood decking, many builders and consumers are turning to high-performance composite decking.

Pros and Cons of Wood and Composite Decking

Many homeowners prefer wood decking because of its familiarity, accessibility, and cost. Wooden decking has difficulties like rotting, splinters, and costly care. While composite wood may require less upkeep than traditional wood, some homeowners are concerned that it may not have the same visual appeal. However, technological breakthroughs have resulted in composites that mimic the natural, luxurious appearance of wood without the maintenance issues associated with wood decks.

When comparing wood versus composite decking, keep the following points in mind:

Which appears to be superior?

Although early incarnations of composite decking appeared fake and plastic-like, certain modern composites contain a randomized embossed grain pattern and a varied appearance to ensure that no two boards are alike.

Which repels moisture better?

The boards of timber decking absorb water easily, which is a considerable disadvantage. In the absence of regular staining, sealing, and painting, wood decking is prone to degradation through warping, splintering, splitting, and decomposition. 

Which requires the least upkeep?

To protect hardwood decking from the destructive effects of moisture, temperature, and insects, consistent sealing, staining, and painting are required. How frequently does composite decking need to be painted, stained, and sealed? Absolutely not! To keep the strength and look of composite decking planks, just sweep or wash them.

What Can Withstand Insect Damage?

Insect and rodent infestations are common on wooden decking. Normal sealing and painting can slow the progression of deterioration but cannot completely prevent it. Termites and other wood-destroying insects are unable to penetrate composite decking since it does not require painting or sealing.

What Cleans Splinters?

Every form of wood decking will eventually develop splinters, especially when exposed to temperature and moisture variations. Composite decking is made out of small wood fibers encased in plastic, making it resistant to splintering despite exposure to weather variations. This is especially important in areas where people frequently walk barefoot, such as pool terraces, as well as for children’s and dogs’ sensitive feet.

What is the price difference?

When choosing between wood and composite decking, most homeowners prioritize cost. Affordability is certainly one of the benefits and drawbacks of timber decking. In general, wood decking is less expensive than composite decking, especially when the original expenditure is considered. 

Despite the cheaper initial cost of wood, composite decking often recoups its investment within two to three years, including annual maintenance costs. Furthermore, the price difference is influenced by local market conditions and the species of wood chosen rather than the brand of composite decking.

Which Is the Most Convenient for Work?

Both wood and composites are easy to trim and fasten with standard home tools. One advantage of composite decking is that it can be twisted into curved deck portions more easily (by heating).

Which provides a cooler surface temperature?

Heat and cold have differing effects on composite and wood decking. Wood decking has generally outperformed composites in hot weather due to the density of composites, which can cause them to overheat in direct sunlight. 

As a result, your deck will be more comfortable on hot days. It is worth noting that blistering on the foot can begin at temperatures as low as 109 degrees Fahrenheit. During the height of summer, this 35% gap might be quite noticeable.

Making Your Selection

To limit the wide options, choose which wood decking you like and then compare it to your favorite composite decking. As a result, whether it’s treated lumber against composite, cedar versus composite, or redwood versus composite, your choice becomes clearer. This reduces the need to weigh dozens of options.