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Composite Decking vs. Wooden Deck: Which is Right for Your Outdoor Space?

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Lounging or having fun on your backyard deck on a sunny evening is one of the best things you can do. Therefore, building a proper deck becomes a necessary project. Aside from hiring a professional deck contractor, you can also do your own DIY installation of an outdoor deck. All you need are basic skills, knowledge of local building codes and tools, and a step-by-step approach to outdoor deck installation.

When it comes time to build an outdoor deck project, aside from the size and design ideas for the deck itself. For many, the biggest question is whether to choose composite decking material or traditional lumber. It can be difficult to choose the best composite decking or wood decking because there are so many types to choose from.

When choosing between wood decking or composite decking, residents should consider the materials used, cost, ease of maintenance, and longevity. This should help them make the best choice for their needs.

Composite Decking is a Man-made Material

There is no denying that many people love the look and feel of solid wood decking. It is a natural product and growing trees helps to preserve the earth’s environment. As a tree grows, it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. If trees are planted properly, it can also make our yards look nicer.

When people hear the term “synthetic deck boards” they often think of decks made of plastic. While this is true for the most part, composite decking material is different. It is made from a blend of recyclable plastic and wood fibers. This brings different benefits to composite decking, which can make it difficult to decide which one to buy. Take a closer look at the different alternatives to wood decking in order to make an informed choice.

Composite Decking Materials

Composite material is also known as wood-plastic composite or WPC material for short. It is usually made using natural fibers from bamboo, bark, or wood pulp mixed with recyclable plastics to make decorative products. Therefore, promoting and using composite materials is good for the environment. When composite wood decking is no longer useful, it can also be broken down and reused to make new wood-plastic products.

Composite materials are easy to color during the manufacturing process, so composite decking boards are available in a wide range of colors. In addition, it can even be cut, drilled, nailed, or screwed together like solid wood. It is important to note that because composite contains wood fibers, it is not as weather-resistant as other types of non-wood decking.


Foamed Polyvinyl Chloride

Foamed polyvinyl chloride is also a more popular alternative to wood decking. It is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and has a thick honeycomb structure. Like most plastics, it won’t absorb water or rot, and it won’t attract bugs. However, you can paint it if you wish.

PVC trim boards are often made with a textured pattern to enhance the beauty of your outdoor deck. PVC is not organic, but more than half of its molecular weight is salt, and it is better for the climate than petrochemical plastics.

Freestanding Armor Benches with Backrests

Mineral-Based Composites

Mineral-based composite (MBC) decking is very strong and stable, which is one of its best features. It won’t stretch or bend, and water and bugs can’t penetrate it. You can also color or texture this plastic trim board to make it look like wood.

It is made from minerals and metals that are heated and squeezed together under pressure to make planks. Although it is very strong, it is made from inorganic materials and may not be the most environmentally friendly decorative material.

Note: Because composite decking boards are more fire-resistant, some people think it is safe to use in fire pits. However, this is not the case, and even though it is more fire resistant, it is not completely incombustible. Excessive temperatures are not usually a good idea for wood or composite decking.

Backless Deck Benches

Wood decks cost less to install

Many people think that wood decking is cheaper than composite decking, but this is not always the case. In recent years, the price of wood has increased quite a bit from what it was before. And the price of wood decking still fluctuates due to raw materials. But as a manually produced decorative product, composite decking is more stable in price.

The cost of purchasing pine to build a deck at a building store is a whopping $15 to $20 per square foot. Composite decking costs about $30 to $40 per square foot. However, species such as cedar and redwood are more expensive than pine. The price of well-known imported species such as IPE is much higher than the cost of composite decking.

The longevity of the decking product is another important factor to consider. The fact that composite decking lasts longer than solid wood decking should be taken into account when calculating the total cost. Add to this the fact that composite decking requires little to no maintenance and the savings in maintenance costs can be a significant amount.


Wood Decking Requires Regular Maintenance and Upkeep

In general, composite decking boards are easier to care for than wood decks. Wood decks need to be sanded, repaired, painted, and sealed every two to three years. This ongoing deck maintenance can be a significant expense. Composite deck boards, on the other hand, for the most part, only require regular cleaning to keep them looking good.

Just like wood, everyday use can damage composite decking boards, causing scratches, holes, and other damage. You can consult the manufacturer of composite decking to get it repaired. While there are several ways to repair composite decking, it is best to take care of it to maintain the deck’s appearance.

Although wood decking requires more care and maintenance than composite decking. However, for many, the natural look and feel is worth the extra effort.


Composite Decking Lasts Longer than Wood

High-quality composite decking can last 25 to 30 years, while wood decking only lasts 10 to 20 years. Some MBC decks can last up to 50 years. Wood decks don’t last as long as composite wood decking, even if they are well-maintained. However, there are a few things homeowners can do to extend their lifespan.

  • Don’t buy pure white pine. Buy pressure-treated and preservative-treated wood for your deck to prevent deck boards from rotting, molding, or becoming infested with insects.
  • Consider redwood or cedar. These types of wood are more expensive, but they are naturally weather and insect-resistant. They are more attractive than pressure-treated lumber.
  • IPE and mahogany also last longer than other woods. But these imported trees are very expensive, more so than other woods and composite decking.

Deck Boards in the Sun

All decking materials heat up when exposed to strong sunlight. However, composite decking materials tend to hold heat longer than solid wood. Composite decking materials have two drawbacks: they can get too hot in the summer and they can be slippery when it rains.

Typically, plastic decking can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun, enough to burn your feet. This may apply to some synthetic decks, but not all composite decking.

  • Wood-plastic composite decking is made from natural fibers, so it performs much like wood. It rarely gets too hot or too cold.
  • PVC decking tends to absorb heat causing the temperature to rise.

Some types of composite deck boards can be very slippery and dangerous when wet. Textured and grooved surfaces can prevent this from happening. Therefore, if you live in an area where it rains a lot, then you need to choose a deck surface with a high slip resistance factor when choosing composite decking.


How to Choose The Right Decking Material

Since wood is a natural material that can be used for a long period of time, it makes sense to think that wooden decks are better for the planet. This may be true some of the time, but not always.

For example, the chemicals used to treat wood under pressure are often toxic. Cedar, redwood, and pine are typically grown in the United States. Teak and IPE, on the other hand, may come from illegal logging in South American jungles. Many mahogany woods come from India or Malaysia. The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies sustainable production around the world. If you are purchasing a wood composite panel, check to see if it is FSC certified, but it is not required.

It is also incorrect to assume that all composite materials are worse for the planet than wood. Brands like Trex, Fiberon, and COOWIN are proud to say that they use a lot of recycled materials in their products. And they are committed to manufacturing their products in a more environmentally friendly way, offering a sustainable production philosophy.


Therefore, it’s more of a matter of choosing the right deck material for your situation. Is the budget sufficient? Does it have a unique deck design pattern? Does one prefer to DIY maintain their outdoor deck? After considering various factors, choose the right outdoor deck material for you.

Contact Us

Since 2000, we have focused on the development and design of composite products. With rich experience in product production, we are determined to become the best composite decking brand! If our products meet your requirements, please feel free to contact us. We will solve your problem and provide free samples. Customer satisfaction is our top priority.

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