Wood or Composite? A guide to decking materials
Adding a deck to your property is a huge step and wise investment to the real estate’s value. However, the whole project’s success may depend on the material you choose for your decking. It will determine how long the deck will serve you and how much time, money ad effort you will have to spend o building and maintaining it.
Today you may choose among several options of decking materials. Those are natural wood ad PVC or Composite decking materials that are either synthetic or semi-synthetic.
It is essential to understand that there is o direct saying that one decking material is better than others in every possible way. Your choice will depend on many factors. What might have worked for your next-door neighbor may appear to be a total flop for your property.
In this article, we shall describe the distinctive features of natural ad synthetic decking materials. Understanding those features will help you make an informed decision and build a perfect deck at your property.
What is wood decking?
Wood decking is a much broader term than you might imagine. It includes several traditional American species like redwood, cedar, or pine. However, today you may also get some more exotic variants like tropical hardwood decking materials—for example, tigerwood, ipe, or mahogany.
All of them have their undoubtful advantages as well as some concerning peculiarities.
PVC and Composite decking
Those are alternative decking materials that are often united described as “Synthetic”. However, this is not entirely true. In comparison, PVC is a wholly plastic product; Composite decking consists of wood fibers encased in plastic. Therefore it cannot be altogether called synthetic.
Those alternative decking materials were invented in the 1980s and became pretty popular since then. People appreciated their lower pricing, durability, and diversity of choice. However, both PVC and Composite decking have pitfalls that may not be as obvious at first sight.
To wood or not to wood? Should you choose natural or alternative decking materials?
When you start to dig deeper into the matter, the choice may seem pretty hard. On the one hand, choosing wood decking, you know exactly what you are dealing with, how long it will serve you ad which challenges you may have to face. However, those same challenges such as splinters, molding, and rot may appear to be absolute deal-breakers for many homeowners.
Simultaneously, while composite decking promises low maintenance and durability, there is always this concern that those decks don’t look as good as natural ones. There is still concern about the quality and performance of synthetic materials and their impact on the environment.
Let’s go over the main focus points of various decking materials.
Of course, the price will depend entirely on either o the wood species you are looking at or the quality of composites. However, if we talk about the same aesthetics, wood decking materials will instantly come out much cheaper than composites that would look just as nice.
However, some homeowners claim that the price difference pays back within 2-3 years as composite decking does need that much maintenance attention and products. However, this factor entirely depends on the area where you live, your lifestyle, and various factors that would require you to pay more or less attention to your deck’s annual maintenance.
Both amateurs and professional contractors claim that there is no difference between the process of building a deck out of natural wood, PVC, or Composite material. You will manage with the same tools for all of them and won’t need any special equipment.
However, those who have experience building advanced decking projects with unusual shapes and designs initially prefer Composite decking. Once heated, they can be bent into any shape ad curve, allowing you to fulfill ultimately unconventional projects.
Moist and insect damage
Those are the leading maintenance concerns of any outdoor constructions. It does not matter where you live; moist and insect damage goes hand in hand with decking. Therefore, durability towards those hazards becomes a powerful feature for most homeowners.
Unfortunately, no matter how quality it is, wood decking is most vulnerable to moisture and its consequences – molding ad rot. Wood absorbs water ad requires comprehensive attention and annual maintenance to prevent or minimize the damage. At the same time, PVC and Composite decks are famous for their water-resistant qualities. However, molding is also pretty standard for those decks once you live in a humid climate.
As for insects, it is pretty natural that they are not interested in synthetic decking materials.
The main advantage of wooden decks over composite ones is that wood will always remain comfortable and safe to walk through, even on the hottest summer day. This feature is essential once you have small children or pets. Our feet may start to blister at a temperature as low as 109F. So, if you live in a sunny state ad plan to spend joyful summer days sunbathing or holding pool parties at your deck, you should choose wood decking.
No matter what they tell you, looks do matter. Especially when it comes to checking out a neighbor’s new deck and then discussing it with everyone. PVC and Composite deck still have this artificial plastic impression once you take a closer look at them.
However, the technologies are moving forward. Today, many manufacturers claim that they manage to make their Composite decking look and feel precisely natural. So maybe soon you won’t be able to tell the difference between the natural and artificial material.
To choose a perfect decking material for your property, you should consider your budget at the moment and how much money and effort you are ready to spend on the maintenance of your decking. Also, it is essential to account for climate ad weather conditions in your region, your plans on using the deck ad, of course, the aesthetics of the material. It is a very personal choice, and you should remember that a deck is not a piece of electric appliance or a car that you can change or quickly get rid of. A deck is an expansion of your house, your legacy that will pass your love and care to future generations.