Perhaps one of the most crucial decisions you will need to make to build a deck is selecting the materials to use. For many decades, wood has been the first choice of many. But since their introduction, non-wood decking has become more popular. One of the best non-wood decks available is composite decking. But the question is, how is composite decking compared to timber? Are they any better? And should you use composite decking? Here is some helpful information that can help you make that decision. 

Composite Vs Timber

Composite and wood decking each has advantages and disadvantages. To determine whether composite is better, you will need to look at the smaller details and features both have. Some of the things you may consider are the cost, ease of maintenance, durability, and a few others. 

Is Composite Cheaper?

One of the many things that homeowners look for when building decks is an affordable cost. Adding a deck to your backyard, after all, is not a cheap home improvement. With that said, is composite better than timber in terms of cost?

When comparing the cost of building a deck, composites will be more expensive than most wood, with a few exceptions. In the UK, you will need to spend £1000 to £2000 for a medium-sized wood deck, whereas a composite one will cost you £1500 to £2500. There are a few exceptions, like tropical hardwoods, like Ipe and Oak decking. Rarer hardwood decks can cost as much to twice that of composite decking. It will also depend on where you live, as some varieties may be harder to obtain. 

While composites are more expensive, they are often more cost-efficient, due to maintenance and upkeep, which leads us to the next comparison.

Is Composite Easier to Maintain?

One of the best features of a composite deck is it’s low-maintenance. On the other hand, most wooden decks notoriously require high upkeep. To maintain the quality of wooden decks, you will need to seal, stain, and paint them once every few years. You will also have to clean them more often than composites, as they are susceptible to many issues.

Meanwhile, composites require no stains or painting. The only thing you will need to do is to set a regular cleaning schedule and an extensive wash and scrub at least every six months. Because of the low-upkeep, composites are also more cost-efficient. Over time, you will spend more on wood decking than composite ones.

Of course, there are a few low-maintenance wood decks. Most hardwoods, such as Ipe, Oak, Teak, and Cumaru, are not as demanding as other wood varieties. 

Is Composite Decking More Durable?

decking

Most homeowners see value in durability and extended lifespans. After all, if you are spending thousands, you will want to choose a deck that will last for decades. So how do composites fare against wood in this regard?

Using wood for decking presents various problems. When exposed to moisture, wood will expand and shrink, which causes warping. Too much water content also rots the wood and also causes mould and mildew growth. While you can prevent them with proper maintenance and treatment, it will still eventually happen. A well-maintained wood deck can last at least 10 to 15 years. 

Composite decks are exceptionally durable and long-lasting. Unlike wood, they are not susceptible to many usual deck issues. For instance, they have excellent resistance against moisture, which helps composite decks resist moulding, warping, and rotting. Due to their composition, they are also resistant to termite and other insect damage. Most composite decks will last at least 20 years. Some even can last up to 50 years. 

As with the other points, exceptions include hardwood decks. Exotic hardwoods have naturally high resistance to moisture, insects, and warping. A hardwood deck can last for decades when maintained.

Is Composite Decking More Beautiful Than Timber?

A well-designed deck can transform an empty-looking backyard into a beautiful haven for relaxation and recreation. And in terms of aesthetics, almost everyone will agree that wood is the best. For this reason, many homeowners and designers prefer the natural and authentic look of real wood. Some even love the appearance of weathered wood. But how do composites compare?

Most synthetic decks today look polished and synthetic, which can be unappealing to many people. On the other hand, composite decking looks similar to real wood. For high-quality composite decking, it would take close inspection to distinguish it from authentic timber. 

The only disadvantage of composite decks in this regard is that you can’t paint it. Most composite materials do not accept paint. You will have to sand it, which will effectively remove the capping. Doing so will turn the composite practically into regular wood.

Is Composite Decking Better?

Overall, composite decks are better than most wood decks. They are more durable, long-lasting, and cost-efficient. They can also be as beautiful as real wood. The only exceptions are hardwood decks, which can perform similar to composites in durability and low-maintenance. However, they are potentially more expensive than composites.