Reasons to Invest in a Composite Deck Over a Wood Deck
Until the 1990s, the only way to build a deck was with lumber. However, the advent of composite wood technology has changed the face of decking ever since. Composite decks are made by compressing recycled plastic and wood fibers into a board mold. Composite decks look like traditional decks, because the molds have a variety of wood grain patterns built into them. This technology was developed as an alternative to traditional wood decks, due to their numerous flaws. Many homeowners believe that traditional decks must be superior to composite decks because they are the “real thing.” However, traditional decks have many drawbacks that need to be considered. Below is a comparison of traditional decks and composite decks.
Frequent Maintenance and Short Lifespan
A wood deck requires consistent upkeep. They need to be routinely sanded, stained, and sometimes repainted. This process requires a large amount of free time as well a fairly large monetary investment. Even if a homeowner consistently maintains their wood deck, it is still at risk of splintering, warping, or cracking. Additionally, because the deck is made of wood, it is in danger of being eaten by termites, invaded by pests, or developing mold. Wood rot is also a severe problem that traditional decks must contend with. Parts of a wood deck can be replaced in the event that the boards are cracking or rotting, but that requires additional work. Also, you need to spend time and money in order to remove the old board and install the new one. Traditional wood decks are also a victim to sun exposure. They can be unbearably hot to touch. UV rays also fade paint over time, requiring frequent re-painting of the deck. Wood decks typically only last approximately ten to fifteen years. Ultimately, compared to composite decks, they are shorter lived and face more hazards and structural break downs.
Wood decks are sturdy but sometimes unsafe. Small children can easily hurt themselves if even the smallest piece of a plank is splintered or cracked. Pets are also at risk of getting splinters. Pets can also cause damage to the wood. Even though wood decks are stained, they are not scratch-resistant. Because wood decks can house pests, your children and pets are also in danger of running into a hidden wasp’s nest or termites. Family or friends who are unsteady on their feet must be cautious on a wood deck. The wood can become slippery if it is over-finished. Also, the planks can warp due to the weather, which can make a wood deck uneven. Wood decks are not friendly to families with young children.
Large Environmental Impact
Wood decks use a large amount of lumber. This encourages deforestation from a variety of ecosystems. The materials that are used to finish or paint a wood deck are unsafe for recycle efforts as well. This means that the wood from old wood decks often cannot be reclaimed or recycled. It is simply dumped. The carbon footprint that lumber manufacturers leave in their wake is substantial. Up until 2003, wood decks were pressure-treated with hazardous materials that were dangerous to both the environment and to humans. While pressure-treated processes continue to this day, they are less toxic than they used to be. Traditional decks encourage impractical and environmentally dangerous practices.
While a traditional deck may be slightly less expensive than a composite deck up front, it will require many additional expenses in order to be maintained. The price of wood decks varies wildly by region. The availability of the desired lumber can also cause large fluctuations in costs. This can make it very difficult to get a consistent and fair quote on the price of your wood deck. Wood decks require sanding, staining, and replacement of boards over time. Purchasing sanders, staining materials, and other refurbishment tools will increase the cost of maintaining your wood deck. Additionally, a wood deck does not have the same longevity as a composite deck. So, while the initial cost of a wood deck may appear to be less expensive than a composite deck, the hidden costs that you will need to pay in order to maintain your wood deck will grow over the course of your deck’s lifespan. Further, consider what will happen to your deck should you choose to move out of your current home. You will have to invest in replacing and updating your wood deck before you leave. This, in turn, will further add to your deck’s final bill. Some potential buyers are wary of owning a home with a wood deck because of the maintenance attached to it. Be sure to keep in mind all of the hidden costs of owning a wood deck before you move forward with installing one.
Low Maintenance and High Longevity
Composite decks are intentionally designed to be low-maintenance. Because the boards are a combination of wood fiber and plastic, they are far more durable than traditional wood decks. Composite wood is rot-resistant and mold-resistant. Pests that are attracted to traditional lumber will be less attracted to composite decks, since they are not completely made of wood. Composite boards are designed to be dense yet light, making them resistant to splitting and cracking. The plastic in them also makes them resistant to warping. Severe rain and heavy snow will be less damaging to a composite deck compared to a traditional deck. Composite decks never require being sanded, stained, or painted. The paint used on composite decks often has a UV protectant mixed in, which will prevent the color from fading as quickly as a wood deck. Composite decks also have a higher heat tolerance: direct sunlight will not make a composite deck how to the touch as quickly as it will to a wood deck. This means that you can enjoy your composite deck year-round without feeling any discomfort. Composite decks are designed intentionally to be easy to care for and long lasting. The only cleaning required of a composite deck is soaping it and washing it down once a year – a far less expensive and time consuming task compared to a wood deck. Approximately, the lifespan of a composite deck is twenty-five years, though some last beyond thirty years.
Safe for Your Family and Pet Friendly
Composite decks are highly durable, which makes them ideal for families. Young children can play on them – even barefoot – without concern of getting splinters or falling on an uneven plank. Composite wood is designed to be slip-resistant, so falls and spills are unlikely. This also makes composite decks great for older family members. If your child accidentally makes a mess on the deck, it is easy to clean. There is no need to worry about ruining a finish or having to fix chipped paint. Composite decks are easy to clean and are much harder to damage than a wood deck. Additionally, even if your pets have long claws, they will have a hard time damaging a composite deck due to its density and its high-quality materials. Composite decks are designed with your family in mind.
Small Environmental Impact
Composite decks are designed to have as small an environmental impact as possible. Composite decks are almost always made of recycled resources. The plastics come from pre- and post-recycled materials. The wood fibers come from recycled wood shavings, wood chips, and sawdust. Because composite wood planks are so durable, they rarely require replacement. This, in turn, leads to less waste from broken planks. Wood decks frequently require replacement, whereas composite decks are longer lasting and require less replacement. Composite decks have a smaller carbon footprint compared to traditional decks.
Less Expensive Over Time
On average, composite decks will cost more up front than wood decks. However, this price is far more regulated and it does not change as much based on the buyer’s location. Additionally, there are far fewer hidden costs associated with a composite deck. Once the deck installation is completed, the only maintenance that is required is soaping it and washing it once a year. This will be an inexpensive endeavor. A handful of boards may need replacement in the event of a severe weather event; however, this would occur over a far longer life cycle than a wood deck. Composite wood decks can last sometimes twice as long as a wood deck, without having as many hidden fees attached to them. Potential buyers will also find a composite deck to be more appealing than a wood deck, since it will require little maintenance on their part. Composite decks are an investment for your future.
Wood decks are old technology. While they can be nice to look at, composite decks offer all of the same appearances and luxuries as a wood deck but without being as high maintenance. Wood decks have a higher risk of being damaged or weathered, whereas composite decks are intentionally designed to be long lasting. Composite decks are safer for families and safer for the environment. These are an investment that can last decades. Your contractor can help you navigate the many options that exist in the composite decking industry.