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What is the Life Expectancy of a Wood Decking vs Composite Decking?

There are a few options to choose from if you plan to build decking. To be able to choose carefully, you will want to look at each option and consider its advantages. When looking for decking materials, most homeowners tend to select one that can last the longest. Among the many choices for decking, two stand out, composite decking and wood. The question is, What is the life expectancy of a wood decking vs composite decking?

Life Expectancy of a Wood Deck

For many years, people have used wood for construction projects. It’s easy to find, relatively cheap, and has a timeless beauty. Until now, many homeowners have used wooden decking materials to build their decking. However, how long does wooden decking last?

This depends on the various types of wood choose,  since each offers different lifespans. There are two classifications of wood used for decking: softwoods and hardwoods. Softwoods are more common, cheaper, and often lighter and less dense, although a few exceptions exist. The life expectancy of a softwood decking ranges anywhere between 10 and 15 years. That’s relatively short compared to many hardwoods. Maintenance is key, if not maintained correctly softwood can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years

Hardwoods are more expensive and rarer since they grow slower than softwood trees. Compared to softwoods, hardwoods offer longer lifespans. Depending on the quality, a typical hardwood deck can last at least 15 to 20 years with proper care and regular maintenance.

To sum it up, softwood decking can last just over a decade at most, whereas hardwood decking can last more than a decade and possibly even two. But how do they compare to composite decking?

Composite Decking's Lifespan

Composites are alternative materials to wood. They are more expensive than real wood, but do have many advantages over wood. They offer better protection against weathering than wood, meaning they will have longer lifespans than wooden decking.

Many composite decking materials can last for more than 25 years. High-quality composite decking can even last for 50 years. While it may seem unbelievable, there are many reviews to back up many of the supplier’s claims. Some companies even offer limited warranty coverage of up to 30 years.

Of course, there are various types of composite decking boards, and as such, each one has a different lifespan. The older or 1st generations of composites, especially uncapped ones, often lasted only as long as softwood decking. However, newer generations or most composites on the market today can last upwards of 20 years.

Overall, composite decking will last longer than most wood decking, however some hardwoods can come close. That said, some exotic hardwoods can be more expensive than composite decking and will cost more to maintain during their service life.

Why Do Composite Last Longer?

There are a few reasons why composites last longer. One of the main reasons why, is composite’s resistance to moisture. Wood decking absorbs water and other liquids, if this happens it can cause irreparable problems. For instance, water can cause your decking to swell and shrink, continuous swelling and shrinking can warp the decking. As wood decking absorbs more moisture, it becomes a breeding spot for mould and mildew. Not only do they damage your decking, but they can also leave permanent stains.

As for composite decking, these issues shouldn’t pose a problem, especially if you use capped composites. They absorb minimal water, meaning they don’t rot and can hold their shape better. Furthermore, mould and mildew shouldn’t be a problem if the decking is regularly maintained and kept clean.

Composite Decking is Low-Maintenance

Another reason why composite decking lasts longer than wooden decking is that they are easier to maintain. In the UK, many homeowners live busy lives and are more likely to neglect cleaning and inspecting their decking regularly. If you fail to maintain wooden decking, it’s only a matter of time until you start to experience problems.

In comparison, composite decking requires very little maintenance. Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to clean it. However, compared to wood, you’ll put less effort, money, and time into doing so. Even if you have a busy schedule, maintaining composite decking won’t be a huge problem. Its easier to to maintain, and you will more likely preserve its quality, thus extending its lifespan. Whereas it can prove difficult, costly and time-consuming to care for and keep wooden decking clean.

So, what is the life expectancy of wood decking vs composite decking?  Overall, composite decking will last longer than most wooden decks. If you want long-lasting decking, composites are your best option.

Can You Replace Wood with Composites?

Yes, you can use composites instead of replacing the broken wooden boards. Since composite decking materials come in different shades, you may find something similar to your pre-existing deck. The issue with doing this is the colour match, width sizes, connection and truthly it would, just simple look out of place. Keep in mind that there will also be times when replacing a single plank will not work out. In this case, you will need to upgrade or replace your decking.

Why Use Composites?

Consider using composite decking materials when looking for a material to replace your broken or old wooden deck. It may be expensive at first, but it has many advantages over time compared to wood. When buying a replacement, consider some of the reasons why composite decking can be better than wooden boards.

Composite Decking Does Not Splinter.

One of the many concerns regarding wood decking is splintering. As a homeowner, you will want your family to be safe from accidents. Because of this, you will spend money to sand, seal and repaint wooden decking to prevent rot and decay which can lead to splinters. That’s not so bad if you only spend the onetime. However, with wooden decks, you will need to sand, seal or paint them almost every year. Compared to composite decking, they don’t split, rot or decay. You don’t need to seal or paint composites to protect them from splinters, therefore guaranteeing the safety of friends and family when entertaining on composite decking.

Composites Are Not Prone to Slip.

Wooden decking can be quite slippery, especially when wet which cause the build up of mould and algae. This can cause a problem with safety. With composite decking which offers higher slip resistance (not slip proof) this is less of a concern.

Please Note: Caution should always be observed with any surface that is wet underfoot to avoid accidents from slipping or falls. 


Comparing the life span between wood and composite decking is key to upgrading or purchasing the perfect decking material for your project. Softwood maybe cheaper at first, but without maintaining you be lucky to get 10 years of life span. There are longer lasting wooden decking, hardwood can last for 15-20 years but does involve maintain to ensure a longer life span.

Composite decking can last beyond 15 years with the possibly of over 30 years for capped composite boards. They are more expensive than softwood but similar price to that of hardwood, without the regular maintenance required, regular cleaning is still important and most be done.

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