Sunnyside Lane Hobby Farm Building and Construction The Better Decking Material – Composite Wood Or Organic Wood?

The Better Decking Material – Composite Wood Or Organic Wood?

Proper deck construction takes solid planning.  Important to that planning process is the decision between organic and composite decking material.  Once the material of choice, natural wood is being pushed aside by composite materials that offer lower maintenance and higher durability.  Gone are the days of plastic looking composite decks.  Technology has improved greatly, and the composite materials now in use rival real wood in appearance so much that most people cannot tell the difference between the two.


The Pros And Cons Of Organic Wood


Real wood is still the most commonly chosen material for decking.  It is the most economical choice for installation and will last for decades if maintained properly.  Most decks are made from pressure treated Southern yellow pine.  This is one of the least expensive of wood decking materials.  The pressure treating process makes the wood resistant to weather, water, and insect damage.  Other types of wood like redwood and cedar do not need to be pressure treated because of the natural preservatives they contain.


The average price of materials and labor for Southern yellow pine is $15 per square foot.  For higher end wood materials like cedar and redwood, the average price is $30 per square foot.


People love the look and feel of a real wood deck.  The price for organic wood deck material is less than for composite.  Pressure treated Southern yellow pine is less than half the price of the most affordable composite materials.  With regular maintenance, real wood decks can have a lifespan of 40 years or more.


The amount of maintenance required to keep a wood deck looking new is the major downside.  Wood decks must be cleaned, stained, and sealed once every year or two.  Otherwise, the wood will fade and rot from exposure to the elements.  In harsh climates, wood can splinter and warp.  While pressure treated wood is fairly weather resistant, it is also susceptible to warping.


The Pros And Cons Of Composite Materials


Composite materials are made to look like real wood.  The new generation of composite materials bears a striking resemblance to natural materials.  However, many people can still tell the difference at a glance.  Composite deck materials are made from a mix of plastic and wood fiber.  The result is a decking material that looks like wood but is more durable and weather resistant.


The higher price of composite products often drives consumers back to real wood.  Labor and materials for a composite deck starts at $30 per square foot and go higher for materials with a closer resemblance to real wood.  The trade off in price vs. real wood is that composite materials do not need to be sanded, stained, or resealed.  A thorough cleaning several times a year is all that is needed.  Eliminating the cost of maintenance can make composite materials more economical over the typical 40 year life span of a real wood deck.


Unfortunately, some composite materials are cheap looking.  This look is what many people associate with composite decks and is why those same people turn to wood materials without really considering any of the new composites that look almost exactly like the real thing.  Also, it can be hard to gauge the durability of composite materials because they are a relatively new product. However, their short history already suggests that composite materials are going to last much longer natural wood.


Composite decking has come a long way.  In just the last few years, technological advances have resulted in materials that look authentic but are maintenance free and more durable than real wood.  Composite decks some with limited warranties that can last as long as 25 years.  Wood decks might be less expensive at the beginning.  But when you factor in the cost of repair and maintenance, composite materials come out as the more economical choice.



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Teresa Fikes
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