Whether you’re working with a contractor to build a new deck or taking a do-it-yourself approach, one of the first decisions you’ll face is figuring out which decking material to use. The choice of the right decking can be the difference between a deck with faded and splintered boards and a ChoiceDek deck that invites relaxation for years to come.
While options for decking materials have exploded in recent years, two of the most popular materials today are wood and composite decking. Traditional wood is a long-standing decking favorite with low upfront cost and natural good looks. Composite decking is new by comparison, but is quickly gaining fans because it is more durable and requires less intensive maintenance.
Since each type of decking has its advantages, how do you decide which material is best for your deck? Take a look below at how the two materials compare to see why more people are tipping the scales in favor of composite decking.
Which decking is easier to use?
Both wood and composite decking are easy to install with standard tools. Uncapped boards like ChoiceDek can be easily ripped down the board and even routed on the edges. It is also much easier to curve an uncapped composite than traditional wood planks, offering a lot more design flexibility.
Which decking has the aesthetic advantage?
When composite decking first became available in the 1980s, many brands had a plastic-like appearance that homeowners did not find attractive. Manufacturers have since developed techniques to create composite decking that resembles the rich, natural beauty of wood. Improvements like realistic grain patterns, wood-like textures and natural coloring now make the aesthetic choice between composites and wood simply a matter of personal preference.
Which decking has better moisture resistance?
While some earlier composite decking products had problems with moisture absorption and delamination, high-performance boards are now available that fully encapsulate wood fibers in plastic. This allows the boards to withstand frequent water exposure from humidity, rain or pools without loss of integrity, whereas wood will rot, split or warp if it’s exposed to too much moisture. Pressure treating and applying water sealers can help preserve the longevity of wood, but repeated maintenance is still required for it to remain protected.
Which decking defends against insects better?
Composite decking does not require treatment to defend against insect attacks because it is composed of plastics that are inedible to insects. Wood decking, on the other hand, requires treatment to avoid destruction by damaging insects like termites and carpenter ants, and even with strong treatments wood can still be subjectable to some insects.
Which decking is more prone to splintering?
Wood decking is more prone to splinters, especially if it’s not maintained regularly and correctly. Composites have small-size wood fibers fully bonded together with plastic, which help keep bare feet splinter free.
Which decking requires more maintenance?
Because composite decking eliminates the painting, staining and sealing requirements of wood, it can help you save valuable hours on deck maintenance. As with any type of decking, though, basic maintenance and cleaning help keep the deck boards in top-notch shape.
Making a purchasing decision
If the advantages of composite decking have you intrigued, but the initial investment in a high-performance board is preventing you from purchasing, keep in mind that they will have significantly lower maintenance costs year after year. And, with brands like ChoiceDek that stand behind their product with a 25-year warranty, you can eliminate or significantly reduce maintenance costs. This makes the two overall investments very similar and may even mean that composites will be less expensive over the complete lifetime of your deck.