Composite wood decking is perhaps the most popular alternative decking material to wood. With our ever expanding decks and outdoor lifestyle activities, the costs of building and maintaining a well-used deck are important considerations before getting one built.Material choice is an important decision that will affect your deck for years and decades to come.Before deciding if composite wood is the right one for your deck, you should evaluate the pros and cons of the material.
The Pros of Composite Wood Decking:
Composite wood decking has very low maintenance compared to conventional wood or pressured wood. The top layer of the material is a plastic-based encasement that makes the material watertight and immune from rot or quick fading. Unlike cedar or pressure-treated wood, composite decking does not need to be sanded or stained every few years. It’s very easy to clean, with just soap and a hose needed to do the job.
Durability Through Conditions
Composites face rough weather well because of their heavier material composition. They will not crack or split from age, exposure to moisture, or temperature fluctuations between seasons. Although the material is not stronger than natural wood, it will fare better aesthetically against the elements.
Most composite manufacturers help the environment a good deal by using mainly waste products to produce the material. Composite wood is usually composed of recycled wood fibers, sawdust, and plastic from sources like bottles and shopping bags. Although plastic in composites remain bad for the environment when they are past use, around 20 feet of composite decking contains about 30 pounds of material that would have gone to landfills immediately.
Composites come in a variety of colors that can be chosen from the factory. There are large amounts of browns, tans, beige, and charcoal options to choose from, and these can be mixed together to create impressively patterned deck layouts. Because it is manufactured, composite planks can be much longer than conventional cedar or pressure-treated wood boards. This allows them to lay across greater distances and produce more seamless designs.
The Cons of Composite Wood Decking:
Typically, composite wood decks can cost about 50% more than cedar or pressure-treated wood decks. Many argue these costs are offset by the lower maintenance however, especially because composite decks will never have to be stripped or stained after installation.
From a distance, composite wood does a good job of resembling natural wood, but up close many composite projects fail to fool the eye and show their plastic content. Although textures can be embossed into the material for greater realism, their touch will not be the same as wood grain. For those adamant on a realistic, natural appearance, composite products should be chosen carefully or opted out for natural wood alternatives.
Surface is Scratchable
Although they require less treatment, composite decks are not well-renowned for standing up to cosmetic wear and tear. Cheaper versions are easily scratched and these blemishes are difficult to hide. Grill lovers should note that hot grease can easily stain composite decks and intense heat from objects like fallen coals can melt the material.
Stronger Support Required
Even while taking out the need for additional staining or treatment, you cannot avoid the use of wood entirely. The structural support beneath all decks needs to be wood and this can rot and need replacement if not adequately protected from rain and moisture, in which case the removal costs are high to get at and replace the underlying structure. In addition, because composite wood is much heavier than conventional wood, it requires stronger supports beneath it, which means more wood and more money than a conventional wood deck.