How To Pick The Right Decking Material For Your Home
Installing a new deck or replacing an existing structure can be a very large project. Kick off your decking project by spending adequate time considering your overall outdoor space so you can determine which type of decking material is the best solution for your yard. While drawing up your deck plans, you’ll choose between materials, textures and colors. Consider the space in which your deck will sit, its elevation and the architectural elements of your home and other property fixtures that you may want to match. But first comes the key question: should you use wood or composite materials?
The Advantages of a Wood Deck
Wood continues to be the most widely used material for constructing outdoor projects and the preferred choice of many homeowners and contractors. Just a few of the advantages of wood decking include:
- Cost – You can choose between a variety of soft and hard woods when designing your deck and many will prove to be less expensive than composite materials. This is a distinct advantage for your decking project if you have a very limited budget or if your deck design is so large that finding savings becomes important.
- Authentic Feel – Although engineered composite decking has evolved greatly to better mimic the look and feel of wood, nothing beats the authenticity of actual wood planks. Wood has a particular smell and echo and naturally retains warmth absorbed from the sun.
- Natural Material – Wood decking may look more natural and blend more easily with surrounding naturescapes. You can match the trees you have in your backyard with the type of lumber you choose for your wood deck.
- Choose Your Color – Another advantage of natural wood is the ability to paint and stain to achieve your perfect color.
Composite Decking Benefits
Touted as an alternative to wood decking that is more environmentally friendly and easier to maintain, composite decking has become a favored choice for many backyard projects. It has evolved greatly from materials that once more resembled plastic than wood. Today’s composite decking involves various blends of wood chips, recycled plastic, bamboo, and other raw materials. Trex composite materials involve at least 95 percent recycled materials engineered to the highest standards in design and performance. Some of the pros of using composite decking include:
- Reduced long-term maintenance costs – While composite decking materials are usually more expensive than wood planks, you can save on long-term maintenance costs because you won’t have to restain or paint your deck in the future. The planks will withstand wear and tear over time and go through minimal visual changes.
- Resistant to rot and weather – Wood planks can fall prey to the weather and experience rotting, splinters and warping over time if not properly maintained. Composite decking, with the added element of recycled plastic to stabilize wood components, will never fall prey to the weather.
- Modernized final product that better mimics the advantages of wood – One of the largest complaints against composite decking is that it just doesn’t feel like wood. While that may be true of early generation composite boards, today’s generation of composite decking is very hard to tell from the “real” deal. From the texture and look of wood grain being added to a wider color palette available to match various wood types, today’s composite boards are truly advanced.
Wood Decking Drawbacks
Whether you choose composite or wood decking, you’ll also have some drawbacks for each to consider. Some areas of concern for wood decks include:
- Sustainability – Deforestation is a very real issue around the world, especially as some regions are experiencing many more forests lost than planted. In the United States, reputable wood decking manufacturers have committed to sustainability and are now planting more trees than are taken down each year.
- Wear and tear – Wood planks must be carefully treated at the outset and then properly maintained to prevent against rot and structural issues like chipping and splitting.
- Availability of wood varieties – The type of wood planks you use can be dictated by what is grown locally. If you really want a particular variety that isn’t native to your geographical region, be prepared to spend much more money having it shipped in.
Composite Decking Drawbacks
While composites have advanced considerably, their usage still entails some drawbacks to consider.
- Cost – Upfront cost for composite decking can be costlier compared to wood planks, and while maintenance costs are low.
- More visibly damaged – Sometimes, your furniture or other outdoor fixtures can create scratches and dings in your decking. With wood planks, those issues can be sanded down and refinished. With composite decks, you’ll likely have to replace the whole plank if you want it to look new again.
- Non-harsh cleaning chemicals required – Be careful with the chemicals you choose when cleaning your composite deck, as harsh formulations can lead to stains and fade marks on this type of material.
Contact Our Team of Decking Experts
With the full picture of the various advantages and disadvantages of wood and composite decking, you’re now better equipped to make the right decision for your yard. No matter which you choose, Prince William Home Improvement can enhance the enjoyment of your outdoor space.