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Should You Build a Wood or Composite Deck?

When it comes to decking materials you have two types, natural wood or composite, that make up the vast majority of decks. Of these, wood remains the most common due to the initial cost. Before choosing your decking material, here are a few of the key factors to consider.

Initial Deck Building Cost

Pressure treated wood is the least expensive with cedar being a bit higher. Costs generally range from $15-$30 per square foot installed. Composites, a blend of wood and plastic materials, generally range from $30-$45 per square foot installed.

Deck Material Durability

A typical wood deck, if properly maintained, has a lifespan of 15-20 years under normal conditions. This assumes frequent maintenance and even occasional board replacement depending on wear. Composites have a life expectancy of 25-30 years with little maintenance and won’t crack or fade like wood.

Nick Swanson

Nick Swanson
Deck Specialist

Deck Maintenance Costs

While the initial cost for composite is definitely more than wood, the actual cost over time is much closer.  This is because wood decks require quite a bit more maintenance.  Where composite just needs periodic cleaning, wood needs to be cleaned and stained every few years and even sanded periodically to deal with the cracks and splinters.

A Deck is a Personal Choice

For an average size deck, what you saved initially on wood you can easily spend on maintenance over time. The choice comes down to money spent up front versus time and money dedicated to maintenance. For a deck that will last longer with very little upkeep, composite is probably the way to go.