Find The Decking Material That Will Win Your Heart

Newly finished deck

Have you ever wondered whether composite or wood decking is better for your outdoor space? Are you curious about which material offers the best durability and requires the least maintenance?

In this post, you’ll learn about the key differences between composite vs. wood decking, including their pros and cons.

By the end of this article, you’ll be closer to knowing exactly which decking material to use for your Belvidere deck installation.

What Is Composite Decking And Wood Decking?

Composite decking is made from a blend of reclaimed wood fibers and recycled plastic. This combination creates a durable, low-maintenance material that resists rot, mold, and insects. Composite decking materials come in various styles and colors, often mimicking the look of natural wood.

The manufacturing process of composite decking involves combining wood fibers with plastic to form durable boards. These composite deck boards are then capped with a protective layer to enhance their resistance to moisture and UV damage.

Wood decking, on the other hand, is crafted from natural wood. There are several types of wood used for decking, including hardwoods like Ipe and teak, and softwoods like cedar and pressure-treated pine. Each wood species offers different levels of durability and aesthetic appeal.

Wood decking undergoes a different manufacturing process. Hardwoods are typically cut and treated to enhance their durability, while softwoods like pressure-treated pine are chemically treated to resist decay and insect damage. This treatment process helps extend the lifespan of wooden decks, although regular maintenance is still required.

Composite vs. Wood Decking

FeatureComposite DeckingWood Decking
DurabilityHigh resistance to rot, mold, insects, warpingSusceptible to environmental damage; varies by wood type
Maintenance RequirementsLow maintenance; simple cleaning with soap and waterRegular maintenance; staining, sealing, painting required
Initial CostsHigher upfront costLower initial cost; varies by wood type
Long-term CostsLower maintenance costsHigher long-term maintenance costs
AestheticsWide range of colors, textures, finishesNatural beauty, customizable through staining/painting
Environmental ConsiderationsMade from recycled materials; eco-friendlySustainable wood options available
Comfort and SafetySplinter-free, slip-resistantPotential for splinters, requires treatment for slip resistance
Resistance to Fading/StainingHigh resistanceSusceptible without regular treatment
Ease of InstallationUniform sizes, easier installation, hidden fastenersNatural variations, additional steps post-installation
Best Use CasesLow maintenance, durability, eco-conscious homeownersNatural beauty, customization, traditional aesthetics

Durability And Longevity

Choosing the best decking material is crucial for building a lasting outdoor deck in Belvidere, IL. Let’s compare the durability and longevity of composite decking and wood decking to help you make an informed decision.

Composite Decking Durability

Composite decking is known for its high resistance to rot, mold, and insects.

Unlike wood, composite decking does not warp, splinter, or decay over time, making it a durable option for homeowners seeking long-lasting solutions.

Composite deck boards are designed to withstand various weather conditions, which is particularly beneficial for areas like Belvidere, IL, where weather can be unpredictable.

Wood Decking Durability

Wood decking, while beautiful and authentic, can be susceptible to environmental damage.

Factors such as rot, insects, and warping can affect the lifespan of a wooden deck.

The durability of wood decking varies depending on the type of wood used. For instance, hardwoods like Ipe or teak offer greater durability compared to softwoods like cedar or pressure-treated pine.

Pressure-treated wood is a popular choice for wood decks due to its enhanced resistance to decay and insect damage. However, even pressure-treated lumber requires regular maintenance to ensure its longevity.

Without proper care, wood decking can deteriorate over time, leading to costly repairs or replacements.

Maintenance Requirements

Composite decking and wood decking have distinct differences when it comes to maintenance. Understanding these can help you choose the best decking material for your needs.

Composite Decking Maintenance

One of the significant advantages of composite decking is its low maintenance requirements.

Composite decks require very little maintenance compared to wood. A simple cleaning with soap and water is usually sufficient to keep the deck looking new.

There’s no need for staining, sealing, or painting, which saves time and reduces long-term maintenance costs.

Composite decking offers a hassle-free experience for homeowners who prefer to spend their time enjoying their outdoor space rather than maintaining it. The materials used in composite decks are designed to resist the elements, ensuring minimal upkeep.

Wood Decking Maintenance

Wood decks, on the other hand, require regular maintenance to preserve their appearance and structural integrity.

This includes annual staining, sealing, and painting to protect the wood from moisture, UV rays, and insect damage. Without these treatments, wood decking can suffer from rot, splintering, and fading.

The maintenance of wood decking involves a significant time and financial commitment.

Regular upkeep is essential to extend the lifespan of the deck and maintain its aesthetic appeal. For homeowners in Belvidere, IL, who enjoy the natural beauty of wood, this trade-off may be worthwhile.

Cost Considerations

Composite decking boards tend to have a higher upfront cost compared to wood decking.

The price of composite deck materials varies, but they are generally more expensive than most wood options. However, the initial investment in composite decking can be offset by its durability and low maintenance requirements.

Wood decking, especially pressure-treated pine, is typically more affordable initially.

The cost of traditional wood decking varies depending on the type of wood chosen, with hardwoods being more expensive than softwoods. For homeowners on a tight budget, wood decking might seem like the more economical choice.

Long-term Costs

While wood decking might be cheaper initially, the long-term costs can add up due to the regular maintenance required. Annual treatments and potential repairs can make wood decking more expensive over time.

Composite decking, with its minimal maintenance needs, can result in significant savings in the long run.

Homeowners should consider the total cost of ownership when deciding between composite and wood decking. Investing in composite decking might result in lower maintenance costs and fewer repairs, making it a cost-effective option over the lifespan of the deck.

Aesthetics And Design Options

Choosing the right decking material involves not only considering durability and maintenance but also aesthetics and design options. Let’s explore how composite decking and wood decking compare in terms of appearance and customization.

Composite Decking

Composite boards offer a wide range of colors, textures, and finishes, providing homeowners with versatile design options.

Composite materials can mimic the look of natural wood while offering a contemporary twist. This flexibility allows you to match your deck with the exterior of your home or create a unique design that stands out.

Composite decking materials are engineered to provide a consistent appearance, which means you won’t have to worry about color variations or grain patterns like you might with natural wood.

This uniformity makes composite decking an excellent choice for those looking to achieve a sleek, modern look for their outdoor space.

Wood Decking

Wood decking, with its natural beauty and authenticity, remains a popular choice for many homeowners.

The rich textures and colors of real wood add a timeless charm to any deck. Wood can be stained or painted in various shades, allowing for customization to suit individual preferences and complement the home’s aesthetic.

Different wood species offer distinct appearances.

For example, cedar and redwood provide a warm, reddish hue, while pressure-treated pine has a more classic look.

Wood decking can also be refinished to refresh its appearance, giving you the flexibility to change the color or look over time.

Environmental Considerations

In today’s eco-conscious world, the environmental impact of building materials is a significant factor in decision-making. Let’s compare the sustainability of composite decking and wood decking.

Composite Decking

Composite decking is often praised for its environmental benefits.

Made from a blend of recycled wood fibers and recycled plastic, composite decks help reduce waste by utilizing recycled materials. The production process for composite decking generally requires fewer resources than harvesting and processing natural wood.

Additionally, composite decking’s long lifespan means fewer replacements and less waste over time.

Choosing composite decking can be a positive step toward reducing your ecological footprint while enjoying a durable, low-maintenance deck.

Wood Decking

Wood decking can also be an environmentally friendly option, especially when using sustainably harvested wood.

Many wood products come from managed forests where trees are replanted, helping to maintain ecological balance.

However, it’s essential to verify that the wood you choose is certified as sustainable.

The environmental impact of wood decking includes the energy and resources needed for regular maintenance. Treatments, stains, and sealers often contain chemicals that can affect the environment.

While wood is a natural product, these factors should be considered when evaluating its overall sustainability.

Comfort And Safety

The comfort and safety of your deck are crucial, especially if you plan to use it frequently for gatherings, relaxation, or as a play area for children. Here’s how composite decking and wood decking compare in these aspects.

Composite Decking

Composite decking is designed with comfort and safety in mind.

Unlike wood, composite materials do not splinter, making it safer to walk on barefoot. This feature is particularly beneficial for families with children or pets who might play on the deck.

Composite decks also offer superior slip resistance, even in wet conditions. This makes them a practical choice for areas prone to rain or near pools.

The smooth, splinter-free surface ensures a comfortable and safe environment for all your outdoor activities.

Wood Decking

Wood decking, while naturally beautiful, can present some safety concerns.

Over time, wood can splinter, creating a hazard for bare feet. Regular maintenance, including sanding and sealing, can help minimize this risk but requires ongoing attention.

Wood decks can also become slippery when wet, especially if not treated with a slip-resistant coating.

Choosing the right wood species and ensuring proper maintenance can improve the safety and comfort of a wood deck, but it requires a commitment to regular upkeep.

Resistance To Fading And Staining

A deck’s ability to resist fading and staining is crucial for maintaining its appearance and longevity. Let’s see how composite decking and wood decking measure up in this aspect.

Composite Decking

Composite decking is designed to withstand the elements and resist fading and staining.

The materials used in composite decking, including recycled plastic and wood fibers, are engineered to maintain their color and appearance over time. This resistance is especially beneficial in areas like Belvidere, IL, where decks are exposed to varying weather conditions.

Capped composite decking provides an extra layer of protection against UV rays and moisture, ensuring that your deck retains its vibrant color and doesn’t fade. This feature makes composite decks a great choice for homeowners who want a beautiful, low-maintenance deck that looks new for years.

Wood Decking

Wood decking, while naturally appealing, is more susceptible to fading and staining.

Exposure to sunlight and weather can cause wood to lose its color and develop stains over time. Regular treatments with stains and sealers are necessary to protect wood decks from these effects.

Wood species vary in their resistance to fading and staining.

Hardwoods like Ipe are more resistant than softwoods, but all wood decks require some level of maintenance to keep their appearance.

Homeowners should be prepared for the ongoing effort needed to preserve the natural beauty of a wood deck.

Ease Of Installation

The ease of installation can significantly impact the time and cost required to build your deck. Here’s how composite decking and wood decking compare in this regard.

Composite Decking

Composite decking is generally easier to install due to its uniform size and shape.

Composite deck boards are manufactured to consistent dimensions, which simplifies the installation process. Additionally, composite decks often come with hidden fasteners, providing a seamless look and reducing the risk of surface damage.

Because composite materials are designed to be user-friendly, DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike can install them with relative ease.

The lack of need for sealing or staining after installation further reduces the time and effort required to complete your deck.

Wood Decking

Wood decking can be more challenging to install due to natural variations in board size and shape.

Hardwoods, in particular, can be difficult to cut and drill, requiring specialized tools and skills.

Softwoods and pressure-treated pine are easier to work with but still present some challenges compared to composite materials.

The installation process for wood decks also involves additional steps, such as applying sealers and stains after the deck is built. These extra steps add time and effort to the project, which can be a consideration for homeowners looking to complete their deck quickly and efficiently.

Want to know the pros and cons of other deck materials?

When To Choose Composite Decking

Composite decking is ideal for homeowners who prioritize low maintenance and durability.

If you prefer spending your time enjoying your backyard deck rather than maintaining it, composite decks are the way to go. Composite decking materials are designed to resist the elements, making them perfect for areas with variable weather conditions.

Eco-conscious homeowners will appreciate that composite decking often includes recycled materials, reducing environmental impact.

Additionally, composite decking offers a variety of design options, allowing you to create a modern or traditional look that suits your home’s style.

Composite decks are also excellent for families with children and pets, as they provide a splinter-free and slip-resistant surface, enhancing safety and comfort.

When To Choose Wood Decking

Wood decking is the preferred choice for those who love the natural beauty and authenticity of real wood.

If you enjoy the process of staining and customizing your deck, wood offers the flexibility to change colors and finishes over time.

Homeowners who value traditional aesthetics and the unique grain patterns of natural wood will find wood decking appealing. Wood decks can be a great fit for historic homes or settings where a rustic, classic look is desired.

For those willing to invest time in regular maintenance, wood decking can be a rewarding choice, offering a timeless charm that composite materials strive to mimic.

Discover more about the different types of wood decking.

Whichever You Choose, Get Your Best Deck With Hard Decks

At Hard Decks, we specialize in creating durable and beautiful outdoor spaces tailored to your needs. Whether you choose composite or wood decking, our team can guide you through every step of the process.

Don’t wait to transform your backyard deck into the oasis you’ve always wanted. Fill out our contact form today, or give us a call!