Key deck question: wood or composite?

Outdoor living is a home improvement trend that cannot be ignored.

If you plan to add a deck to your house, remember the design is only one aspect of the planning process. The materials you decide to use can affect the project in numerous ways, from the initial investment to maintenance years from now.

Deciding between wood and composite decking can seem complex. You may have heard composite is superior but costly. You also may have heard that wood is greener yet more susceptible to bugs. Get the facts when it comes to wood versus composite so you can make the right choice for your home.

Cost

Building a deck with composite materials will cost more than virgin wood initially, but not as much as most people think. The substructure is the same cost for either option and the remainder of the project could cost about 25 percent more for composite. That cost, though, is often recouped over time because there is little maintenance required with composites, while maintaining a wood deck can cost hundreds of dollars each year.

Want to see how the numbers compare? Visit www.epa.govand check out the EPA’s GreenScapes Tools Excel Decking Cost Calculator and an example that compares the cost of building a new deck with composites versus conventional wood.

Maintenance

Low maintenance is in high demand for homeowners, and decking is no exception. Wood decks require major maintenance every one to two years. Nail pops and splinters are common safety hazards with wood decks, as are cracked, warped and rotted boards that need to be replaced. Plus, wood decks must be refinished every year or two, a project that can cost $450 to $850 per year and take an entire weekend or longer to complete.

Capped composite decking from Fiberon will never splinter, crack or require staining, unlike wood decking. This composite decking is so durable that it comes with the industry’s first stain and fade warranty for up to 25 years. Typical maintenance requires just a few hours a year to clean the surface with a deck brush or power sprayer. Visit www.fiberondecking.comto learn more.

Eco-friendly

Many people believe wood is a more environmentally friendly option than composite decking. In actuality, the opposite is true. Composites are created from recycled materials and keep waste out of landfills. Fiberon alone prevents more than 50,000 tons of plastic and other waste from ending up in landfills or incinerators every year. Composite decking also saves trees. In addition to using locally sourced plastics, Fiberon composite decking includes wood scraps acquired from nearby cabinet and door manufacturers.

Furthermore, just because it is wood does not mean it does not contain chemicals. In fact, most wood lumber is pressure-treated with different chemicals to boost its integrity and make it last longer.