Should You Use Composite Decking?

If you are thinking of building a new deck or renovating an existing one, you might be wondering what kind of material to use. Wood is the traditional choice, but it has some drawbacks which can make it less than ideal for some homeowners. Composite decking is a newer alternative that offers many benefits over wood, but also has some disadvantages that you should be aware of before making a decision. In this post, we will explore the pros and cons of composite decking, and help you decide if it is right for your outdoor living space.  Let’s dig in 👇

What is Composite Decking?

Composite decking is a man-made product that combines recycled wood fibers and plastic. It is designed to mimic the look and feel of natural wood, but with improved performance and durability. It also comes in a variety of colors and textures, allowing you to customize to suit your style and preferences. Some composite products are also capped with a protective layer that resists fading, staining, and scratching.

Pros of Composite Decking

There are many reasons why homeowners choose composite over wood. Here are some of the main advantages when using composite decking:

  • Low maintenance: Composite decks does not need to be stained, painted, or sealed like wood. They are resistant to rot, splintering, warping, and insect damage. The only maintenance required is occasional cleaning with soap and water to remove dirt and debris. This saves you time, money, and hassle in the long run.
  • Longevity: Composite can last for decades without losing its quality or appearance. It is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions such as sun, rain, snow, and temperature changes. Unlike wood, composite decking does not crack, fade, or warp over time. It also retains its color and texture better than wood, which can become gray and dull after exposure to the elements.
  • Eco-friendliness: Composite decking is made from recycled materials, such as wood waste and plastic bottles. This reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and oceans, conserving natural resources. Composite decking also has a lower carbon footprint than wood, as it requires less energy and water to produce and transport.
  • Variety: Composite decking offers a wide range of options for homeowners to choose from. You can find composite decking in different colors, shades, grains, and finishes, to match your home and landscape. You can also mix and match different composite boards to create patterns and contrasts on your deck.

Cons of Composite Decking

Despite its many benefits, composite decking also has some drawbacks to consider before installing.

  • Cost: Composite decking is more expensive than wood. The average cost of composite decking ranges from $20 to $38 per square foot, depending on the quality, brand, and features. Wood decking, on the other hand, costs about $15 to $25 per square foot, depending on the type and quality. That said, composite decking can save you money in the long run, due to its low maintenance requirement.
  • Heat: Composite decking can get very hot in direct sunlight. This can make it uncomfortable to walk on barefoot, and can also cause the boards to expand and contract more than wood. Some composite decking products have a higher heat retention than others, so it is important to check the manufacturer’s specifications before buying. Purchasing lighter colors is a good way to offset heat absorption.
  • Scratches: Composite decking can be scratched by sharp objects, such as furniture, tools, or pets’ claws. While some scratches can be hidden or repaired, others can be permanent and noticeable. Protective pads or mats under furniture is a common fix for this.  And make sure to keep those pets’ nails trimmed regularly!
  • Mold: Composite decking has been known to be susceptible to mold and mildew growth, especially in damp and shady areas. Mold and mildew can cause discoloration, stains, and odors, in addition to posed health risks. This is also a common problem with wooden decks.  As a general practice, you should keep your deck clean and dry, and ensure proper ventilation and drainage.

Conclusion

Composite decking is a great option for homeowners who want a low-maintenance, durable, and eco-friendly deck. While it does have some drawbacks, such as cost, heat, scratches, and mold, we still recommend it as a superior alternative to traditional wood decking. Ultimately, the choice between composite and wood decking depends on your personal preferences, budget, and lifestyle. Weigh the pros and cons of each material, and compare different products and brands, to find the best fit for your outdoor living space.

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