For many homeowners, outdoor living means having a low-maintenance deck to fully experience the good life. As you plan your dream deck project, one of your first decisions is between wood or composite deck.
Your research is likely to indicate the many benefits of a composite deck over traditional wood. In addition to being a low-maintenance option, composite decking offers color-rich boards and railing with authentic wood tones. Your new deck will also deliver long-term savings over wood.
Composite decking is a type of engineered deck board made with a blend of organic wood flakes and plastic. Composite deck boards can be partially or fully encapsulated, meaning the boards are covered on three or four sides. This outer capping ensures the boards are protected from mildew and rot, and they will not fade from the sun.
Some homeowners select wood decking because they're familiar with it, have access to it, and it's somewhat less expensive initially. On the other hand, wood has a reputation for creating problems like splinters, rot, and maintenance issues. Although some customers are concerned that their composite deck won’t create the desired wood look, manufacturing advances have led to composite decks matching wood's natural look while eliminating staining, painting, and routine maintenance.
When evaluating composite decking, here are some benefits to consider:
Low maintenance: Homeowners must do regular painting and staining on solid wood to ensure it's protected against moisture. Composites material only requires an occasional combination of sweeping and washing to remove stains and keep the quality look of the deck boards.
Hidden deck fasteners: Some composite decks are installed with screws, but others offer grooved-edge deck boards using hidden deck fasteners for installation. This system results in deck surfaces without visible screw heads.
Insect damage: Unlike the typical wood deck, composite decks are not susceptible to damage from termites and other wood-destroying insects.
Splinters: Wood material will eventually splinter, but the composite deck is made from small wood fibers protected by a plastic cover. Children coming barefoot from the house to an attached deck won't have to contend with splinters, making outdoor living safer for them and their pets.
Attractive brands: Although some of the earliest composite decks looked artificial, some modern brands are available in variegated or solid colors. Manufacturers like TimberTech by Azek have been able to develop modern composite decks to look just like their all-wood counterparts. The difference is the beauty of the composite doesn't fade or rot like wood.
Sustainability: Composite decking provides services to the environment in two ways: First, using recycled materials for the boards, and second, since boards are virtually maintenance-free, you'll save gallons of stain and paint and keep composite decking out of the landfill longer because it has a longer life.
Ring's End sells the TimberTech line by Azek, one of the top brands of composite decking backed by a 30-Year Fade and Stain Warranty! Click on any products above for more information.
If you install grooved-edge boards, you won't see any screws because they use hidden deck fasteners, which some homeowners prefer. Or you can use screws to install solid-edge boards, but there is one installation warning that goes with this method: If the screws aren’t flat against the decking, furniture legs and shoes can catch on them. If you use the screwed-down method to install the decking, you might want to fill the holes with a small round plug that matches the deck. Whichever type of deck installation you choose, it's important to have a space between the boards for proper drainage.
Composite deck boards measure 5/4" thick x 6" wide and come in lengths of 12 ft., 16 ft., and 20 ft. The composite materials are easy to cut, so you can trim the longer boards to the size you need to fill in shorter porch or deck areas.
If all the benefits and data listed above don't convince you that your new deck should be constructed with composite boards and railings, then consider this: when you account for the rest of the costs associated with maintaining a wood deck (that already will have a shorter lifespan!), composite decking comes out ahead as a better value.