Wooden decks can vary widely in cost. Pine decking is cheap but only lasts for a couple of years before it has to be replaced. Higher quality and harder woods such as teak will be more expensive but will last substantially longer, up to seven years. The main advantage of traditional wood is the aesthetic appeal. Every plank manufactured from natural timber has unique grain and looks wonderfully authentic because of it. Some hardwoods are naturally rot- and insect-resistant and can handle hot, sunny weather very well too.
Unfortunately, wood does have disadvantages. Wooden decks require constant maintenance and can warp and rot if not taken care of properly. Wood loses its aesthetics as it ages, bleaches, and begins to deteriorate. It also needs to be replaced relatively frequently—even when properly maintained. Sourcing sustainable wood can also be a challenge in some areas, with top-end wood variants often being sourced from threatened forests in South America.
Composite decking is made of a mix of wood fibers (usually obtained from sawdust) and a plastic resin, either polyethylene or PVC. The result is something that looks rather similar to wood, though composite decking with PVC does tend to have a more ‘plastic’ appearance. The main advantage of composite decking over wood is its durability. It requires virtually no maintenance and has a lifespan of up to 25 years. It doesn’t rot or warp and it resistant to termite infestations. Fade-resistant composites are also becoming more readily available.
Durability and less maintenance comes at a cost. Composite decking is more expensive and it obviously doesn’t look as authentic as real wood.
Which one is better?
Ultimately, it’s all up to the homeowner, but homeowner needs to understand that a little more money up front will mean save a lot of work and a lot more money down the road. The more a deck is used and exposed to natural elements such as sunshine, the more the long-term costs of wood will stack up.