how long does composite decking last

Composite vs. Wood Decking: Pros and Cons

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When choosing what material to use for building your deck, the decision comes down to composite vs. wood decking. You can enjoy a sturdy, beautiful deck from either material, but they each have pros and cons to consider before making a final choice. Learn more about the differences between wooden and composite decks in Fishers, IN.

Material

Wooden deck boards usually come from redwood or cedar trees, both species known to resist rot and insects. You can also choose pressure-treated wood with chemicals pressed into it to avoid rotting. Many homeowners consider wood the traditional building material, but composite decks make a great alternative.

Composite decking materials consist of plastic, often recycled from items like milk jugs, shampoo bottles, and detergent containers. Since composite material uses recycled items, homeowners leaning towards eco-friendly options will love a composite deck.

composite decking

Durability

Regardless of which species you use, wood decks require regular care to keep them in good condition. Wooden decks provide a strong, stable surface that can last for years with the proper sealants and maintenance. However, not staying on top of wood deck maintenance may result in dangerous splinters, bowing floorboards, and wood rot.

While wooden decks may last up to 30 years, composite decking offers a 50-year lifespan. Composite decks don’t suffer from weather-related rotting, splintering, and bowing, resisting the elements far better than wood decks. In addition, most composite decking material includes UV-resistant chemicals that protect the deck’s coloring.

Scratch Resistance

While both composite and wooden decks can scratch, wood takes more effort to repair. Moving furniture, grills, or planters around your deck may leave scratches on the wooden surface. These scratches will stay visible and put your boards at risk until you sand the scratch out and restrain or paint the deck.

Because it has a thicker and stronger composition, many homeowners never manage to scratch their composite decks. If you do somehow gouge out some of the material, you can often fix it with a putty knife and epoxy-based filler or use a heat gun to melt the scratch away.

Maintenance

Maintaining a wooden deck may cost as much as $1,000 a year and much time and effort to keep the wood sanded down smooth and stained or painted properly. Daily maintenance tasks may include sweeping and debris removal, along with ensuring that pooling water has a way to drain off your deck. While many homeowners think of maintenance as a cleaning schedule, wooden decks also require regular inspections to ensure that every board and nail stays in place.

Fluctuating temperatures and extremely wet or dry weather can cause wood fibers to expand or contract, displacing important building materials that keep your deck stable. 

Besides structural stability, if you notice nails coming up or out, stained or discolored patches, or soft, flaky spots in your wood, you may need to replace the boards. Water damage, insect infestation, and UV rays can all cause problems with a wooden deck.

When considering composite vs. wood decking, many homeowners express surprise at learning that maintenance for composite decks requires much less time, energy, and resources. Upon completing a composite deck, you won’t have to worry about elemental or insect damage. Composite boards also won’t warp or splinter like wooden deck boards will, allowing you to enjoy a safer deck.

When your composite deck looks dingy or discolored, wash it down with soap and a pressure washer. If the color of your deck has faded, consider repainting or staining it to achieve an even tone across the deck.

Color

While wood and composite decks can look however you like with paint or stain, homeowners with wooden decks often prefer all-natural boards. If you choose to stain or paint later, these projects can eat up an enormous amount of time, money, and energy. You’ll also have to time your painting or staining project to avoid rain and ensure no one uses the deck while it dries.

Composite deck boards come in various colors, allowing you to match your deck with your home’s color palette. As time passes and seasons change, you can find new ways to incorporate decor and outdoor accessories with your colorful deck.

Cost

Wood decks continue to reign as the least expensive material for deck boards. When you consider how much maintenance they need, the overall cost increases exponentially. Composite decks cost between 15 and 20 percent more than wood decks installation but, over the years, require much less maintenance and repairs.

Usability

Composite and wooden decking can serve in many applications around your home. You can create your outdoor living space with either material and enjoy a beautiful, safe place for outside activities. Whether you want a patio space or a multi-level deck with an outdoor kitchen, you can use composite or wooden decking.

Other places you can use composite or wood decking include:

  • Fencing
  • Yard paths
  • Box gardens
  • Storage sheds
  • Outdoor shelves

One of the few places you’ll prefer composite decking over wood includes hot tub decking. Since getting into and out of hot tubs splashes hot, soapy water on your patio, you’ll want composite decking that can withstand multiple water dousings without warping or rotting.

Should I Choose Wood or Composite Decking?

Ultimately, the choice of which type of decking to use falls on you. Wood provides a natural look but requires more maintenance, while composite decking needs minimal cleaning and repairs but doesn’t look as natural. Consider the following questions when deciding between wood or composite decking:

  • How much maintenance do I want to perform?
  • Do I prefer natural colors and appearances over manufactured ones?
  • How much time, money, and effort am I willing to put into my deck once completed?
composite deck

Get Our Specialists to Build Your Dream Deck in Fishers, IN

Choosing to add a deck to your home raises your property value and improves your curb appeal. With a better understanding of composite vs. wood decking, you can easily determine which material best serves your purposes. When you’re ready to build your deck, call Artisan Outdoor Craftsman at (317) 648-1137 for a free estimate on custom deck design and construction.