Perhaps you’re adding a new deck to your home or replacing an existing deck that needs a refresh. Either way, you’ll have some choices to make as you design and build your new deck. One of the biggest and most important decisions you’ll make is whether to use wood or composite materials for your deck’s surface. There are some important differences between these two popular decking materials, but the choice ultimately comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. Here’s everything you need to know about wood and composite deck materials, so you can make the best choice for your home.

Wood vs. Composite Decking

Wood and composite are the two most popular materials for deck building today. Both are excellent options, but each has very different pros and cons. You’ll want to take stock of your own priorities for your deck and examine the highlights of each material before you decide. Whatever decking material you choose, most builders use treated lumber for the framing, or the main structure underneath. The decking material you choose will be used for the surface of the deck, railings and steps.

Wood Decking Overview

Wood is a classic choice for decks and has proven to be durable, long-lasting and attractive over the years. Wooden decks are often the most familiar, and many people choose wood for its natural look. You can choose from several different wood types for decking materials. Wood is available in a range of appearances and price points. Pressure-treated pine is easy to find and very affordable. Cedar and redwood offer a step up in quality and appearance, while exotic woods like tiger wood and mahogany provide a unique look with a more expensive price tag. Whatever your preferences and budget, you can find a wood species to suit your style. Paints and stains can further customize the look to achieve exactly what you want.

When properly maintained and cared for, a wooden deck can have a life span of 20 or more years. While this isn’t as long as a typical composite deck, it’s still a long life span. The trade-off is that wooden decks also generally cost less than composite decks. Just keep in mind that wood decks need regular maintenance, including refinishing every few years, to keep up the look and protect the wood from damage.

Composite Decking Overview

Composite decking is a newer material but is a very popular choice due to its overall durability and ease of use. This decking material is composed of wood fibers and plastic materials, making it stronger and denser than wood. Is composite decking better than wood? It depends on your goals and preferences for your deck.

While it tends to have a higher price tag upfront for installation, composite decking is less susceptible to scratching, fading and rotting. It does not require sanding, painting, staining or other maintenance that wooden decks need every few years. Just clean yearly with soap and water to keep your composite deck lasting for decades. The material is also designed to look and feel like wood, with many color and finish options available.

Factors to Consider Before Buying

Wood vs. Composite Decking: Which Should You Choose?

When considering a composite deck vs. wood, take into account these factors:

  • Appearance: How you want your deck to look can be a significant driving factor in what materials to use. Wood looks more natural and can be stained in various colors and finishes. However, modern composite decking materials easily mimic the look of real wood and are available in many different styles and colors.
  • Maintenance: If maintenance is a concern, composite is the clear winner since it only requires occasional cleaning. Wooden decks, however, will need regular applications of paint, stain or sealant every few years. Without proper maintenance, wooden surfaces can look dull and start to wear out or rot.
  • Cost: For any project, the cost can be a huge deciding factor. When it comes to composite vs. wood deck costs, wood is generally the more affordable choice for building. Remember that wooden decks need more maintenance and replacements much sooner, so account for these costs to calculate the long-term price. Composite decking materials may be more expensive initially but could pay for themselves over the long run considering their longer life spans and maintenance savings.
  • Moisture levels: When it comes to dealing with moisture issues, composite decking has the edge. Wood decking is far more susceptible to moisture damage like cracking, warping and rotting. Composite materials are more resistant to moisture and are an excellent choice if you are in an area that experiences high humidity or lots of rain. Wood can stand up to moisture better with a quality sealant.
  • Insect issues: As with moisture, wood decking is simply more susceptible to damage from insects like termites. The plastic in composite decking materials helps them better resist the damage that pests can cause.
  • Workability: Both materials are easy to use, readily available and only require common household tools to work with. You can more easily bend composite materials by applying heat if you need to create curved areas. Composite also has a more seamless installation with hidden fasteners.
  • Other factors: Certain other factors are worth considering, depending on your priorities and how you plan to use your deck. Composite materials resist staining better than wood, which may matter to you if you have kids or do lots of entertaining on your deck. There’s always the possibility of splinters with wood decks, while composite decks can be more slippery, especially when wet. In the summer heat, a wood deck may not reach as high of surface temperatures as composite decking, depending on the color and finish you choose. All these factors are important, especially if you and your family like to run barefoot through the yard and on the deck.

Ultimately, both wood and composite are excellent decking materials. Consider the pros and cons of each type to determine what will work best for your unique situation.

Deck Installations From Garrety Glass

Whether you choose composite or wood decking, Garrety Glass is the professional team you need to achieve your backyard deck dreams. With more than 20 years of experience, our highly trained and knowledgeable technicians have the skills needed to install high-quality, long-lasting decks at any home. We work with both wood and composite decking materials and can help you find the best option for your needs. Contact us today to start building a new or replacement deck in your yard!