With the increasing popularity of composite decking over the last decade or so, the question is continually asked, what’s better, wood or composite materials? As with all materials for projects you embark on, each has its pros and cons. These can range from costs, the durability of materials, how long they will last for and one that is quite important to busy people how much maintenance and time will it require on an ongoing basis. When you consider these, the pros are adding up for the composite decking options; however, with many devotees still strong on the wood side, the debate between the two is still in force.
We have broken it down for you and give you a greater understanding of how both function and what looks best as a long term and more efficient solution.
If you’re not familiar with it, you’re probably wondering what makes a composite deck such a great choice. The most recognisable pro is that they are almost free of maintenance. Due to the materials, they are made out of, they generally don’t require sanding, staining or sealing – sounds great, doesn’t it. However, to ensure that it remains clean, cleaning with soapy water and a low power washer or a soft-bristle brush will keep it looking great.
Maintenance & Durability
The significant part of this type of material is that they are long-lasting and durable, which gives you confidence in its use. They are also 30% more stain-resistant than wood and will hold up to the changing and harsh weather that Australia is known for, including natural wear and tear for up to 50 years.
What we love about this decking material is that compared to natural materials that require regular maintenance. It can last easily 10-30 years before it should require any repairs and doesn’t rot, splinter or isn’t susceptible to damage by insects.
The other significant component is that composite materials are also UV resistant, so it doesn’t fade as quickly as wood does over time. If you find that there is some fading over time due to direct sunlight exposure, staining or painting can give it a fresh new look. In fact, most people aren’t aware that you can do that, but it’s very possible and makes the product even more appealing to the buyer.
If there is any drawback to be had, it will potentially be the costs because there are considerable differences in the short term. At $35-$45 per square foot to install, the prices are slightly higer compared to $15-$25 for natural wood.
However, the costs work out because due to the low maintenance and how long composite decks last, you eventually save on money. Hence, prices are less comparable because it evens out and potentially becomes the cheaper option.
When you think of an Aussie backyard deck, the first thing that comes to mind is wood because it is the choice that has been used since the existence of decks. It’s proven over time that timber looks great and that its cost-effective to build. You also have a choice of a variety of options such as pine, cedar and redwood that is treated for such use. Its downfall is the long-term maintenance it requires.
Durability & Maintenance
Many people prefer the authenticity of wood because of its natural look and feel. While it’s also durable, it requires a lot of time, money and effort to treat, sand, clean, stain and paint at least every 2-5 years. If you don’t keep up with the regime, then the wood will eventually rot and fade and requiring you to replace the whole deck.
Other known issues include splintering and warping due to weather and wear and tear from use, particularly with pressure-treated wood. When well cared for, Wooden decks can last up to 20 years, which isn’t as long as composite but still a reasonable amount of time.
At the outset of embarking on deck building, if you are working on a budget and you cannot afford the initial outlay of composite materials, then wood is the way to go. Treated pine is the lowest price at about half the composite price at around $15 as opposed to $30 for installation. However, if you are looking at a high-end wood such as cedar or redwood, it will be more costly than pine but still cheaper than composite decking.
Making a Choice Between Compositing and Wooden Decking
The argument between the two may never be solved because, in the end, the preference is personal. If you are more about the richness and natural look and feel of wood and you have the time to devote to it, it is an excellent choice for you. However, if time is an issue for you and the long-lasting nature of composite works for you, then it’s clearly the way to go. Ultimately, while we can provide you with the facts, you get to decide knowing you have all the information to help you make it.