April 19, 2016

Composite Decking and its Benefits

Of all the types of decking available today, composite decking comes out on top. Here’s why…

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There are more options for decking materials today than there ever have been in the past. You can build a deck out of everything from softwood lumber to plastic, and most things in between. However, there are three main choices that people tend to pick when they are planning out their new deck; pressure treated lumber, softwood lumber such as cedar, and composite decking. The most expensive of these options is the composite decking material and this leads to many people asking “Is composite decking worth the price and how long does it last?”

The costs associated with building a deck can vary greatly depending on what sort of design you’re looking for, which company you end up hiring to do the work, or if you decide to do it yourself. For the purpose of this post, we will only be taking into account the cost of the materials for the same design with the same labourers for each material.

Of the three most common options, pressure treated lumber has the lowest cost because it is just pine dipped in a chemical solution and then pressurised to push the preserving chemicals throughout the entirety of the wood. For a deck of the same dimensions made of cedar, a tree that is much less common than pine will usually cost about 25% more than pressure treated. The most expensive option is the composite decking material, which is a mix of many things including recycled wood and plastic and it will cost around 50% more than pressure treated would.

Composite decking does come with quite a cost increase, but it also lasts the longest of the three types of decking materials that we have looked at. With proper maintenance, a pressure treated deck can last up to 40 years. However, most homeowners do not keep up with the maintenance involved and end up with a deck that lasts for 10 to 15 years. Cedar, on the other hand, can last 50 to 60 years with proper maintenance, but for most homeowners this ends up being in the range of 20 to 25 years unless maintenance is strictly kept up with. Most composite decking comes with a 25-year warranty, with some brands even offering an incredible 100-year warranty! The truth of the matter is that composite decking will be around for a very long time, most brands are not even old enough yet to have seen the end of their product’s lifecycle.

For a product that will last as long as any of these three materials will, one should look into the maintenance costs over the lifetime of the product before making a decision on which to use for their project. Both pressure treated lumber and cedar decks will need annual to biannual maintenance which involves cleaning, resealing, and in some years, sanding as well. On top of that, the pressure treated lumber will also have to be repainted or re-stained every few years (or every year on a high traffic deck). Composite decking only needs a yearly cleaning, which most times can simply be done with a garden hose, over time it is the much cheaper maintenance alternative.

Though any of these materials can make for a fantastic deck, composite decking overall gives the best value for your money. Not only does it last the longest, with the end of its life not even truly being known in some cases, but the low maintenance costs and effort make it much easier to enjoy your deck from season to season.