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Composite Vs. Wood Decking

Building a deck is a big endeavor. You will want to do everything right the first time. If you’ve ever had to replace an old deck you will understand what we mean. Now there isn’t just wood to choose from, there is also composite wood to choose from as well. Composite decking might not be for everyone, so it’s important to learn all the pros and cons of composite vs. wood decking.

We all know what wood decking is, but if you are trying to choose the best wood for the job that will hold up well in all weathers you will want cedar, Douglas fir, or if money isn’t an option teak or another exotic hardwood. Composite is made of wood fibers encased in plastic and was just invented in the 1980s. This wood decking alternative is becoming more and more popular.

Weather and Insect Resistance

One major issue you will run into with wood decking, even if it is treated, stained, and painted, is the moisture will eventually win. Wood absorbs water readily after a few years. This will cause splintering, warping, and rating. Unlike wood, composite is fully moisture resistant throughout. Wood decking, though treated, will eventually become prone to rodent and insect damage as well. Composite decking is resistance to pests, including termites.


One way to help your wood decking resist moisture and pests is regular maintenance, which it will need every 2-3 years. If you clean, stain, seal, or paint your deck as often as required your wood deck will maintain its strength until eventually it will need to be replaced. Conversely, composite only require washing and sweeping to keep the boards in beautiful condition.


Thus far, composite decking is starting to sound like the winner; however, not everyone cares for the look of it. Wood decking has a classic, and sometimes rustic, look. Composite can still appear to have a plastic look, because it is plastic! The newer versions of composite decking are becoming more realistic, but if you want a rustic cabin or a classic wood deck, you might still consider wood even with all its maintenance.


Composite sounds too good to be true, so therefore the price tag probably reflects that, right? Well, for the most part that is true. The upfront cost of composite decking is higher than wood, but in a few years that cost will begin to even out. The cost of maintaining wood, hiring a pressure washer or painter, buying the paint and stain, and all the time you put into the deck will begin to add up over the years. Especially if you purchase an exotic hardwood.

Overall, composite is the winner for durability and life span, but wood still has the advantage of natural beauty and charm. In the end, its up to you and your preferences. You might choose your favorite wood first and then compare it to composite and which would look better beside your home.

Need more woodworking ideas, tips, and news? Visit more of Byrd Tool’s blogs.

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