Decking: Should You Choose Composite Or Traditional Wood?

Friday, August 21st, 2020 by Team Arrow

The summer season has flown by, and we've been fortunate to have some amazingly mild weather in the Kansas City area over the past few months. The best part is, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors with the family and gather in the backyard for grilling and quality time. With more people continuing to stay closer to home throughout the quarantine, creating an outdoor oasis has become yet another way for families to spend time together and start a new home project that provides a fun escape for all even into the cooler autumn months. 

Adding an outdoor deck is still one of the most popular home upgrades, and building materials are becoming increasingly smarter and more durable. Traditional wood can still be a good choice, but many people are finding that there is much more work involved in maintaining the fresh look of natural wood, mainly due to weathering and the breaking down of wood over time. Not to mention, the materials needed aren’t as environmentally friendly. For these reasons, many people are choosing to go the composite route with their building materials, rather than using conventional wood.

So, how do you know which type of decking will meet your home’s structural needs, budget, and allow for the most functionality? Here, we’ll compare both standard wood and composite materials so that you can decide what would work best if you decide to splurge on a new outdoor escape for the family.  


Traditional Wood

Kansas City traditional wood deckThe most commonly used types of wood used in traditional wood decking are cedar, redwood, or a mix of different pressure-treated combinations of wood. Redwood can be especially desirable due to its natural beauty and durability, and it’s a great choice for this reason. It’s also resistant to insects, but one downfall is that supplies might be harder to come by due to deforestation of redwood species. Cedar is another insect-resistant option, but it is also a softer wood that is more susceptible to splintering. 

Pressure-treated wood is yet another option but tends to be less durable, especially if it’s in a lower price point. It can be sold as higher-grade lumber if it is available to be treated and water treated and pre-stained before leaving the mill. Mahogany is another option, but is considered high end and isn’t an economical option for most people. 


Installation of Wood Decking

Installing a traditional wood deck can be done by an individual but is usually best left to a professional. If measurements aren’t done precisely, your deck can end up looking messy and uneven. 


Cost of Traditional Wood Decking

One advantage of using traditional wood for decking is that it tends to be less expensive than composites, but it’s still important to keep maintenance costs and upkeep in mind. 


Composite Decking

Kansas City composite deckingSimilar to engineered wood siding, composite decking is made up of recycled wood fibers, a bonding agent, recycled plastics and a few other things to make it fade resistant from UV light, and generally, it comes enclosed in PVC. When all of these materials are combined, they form a decking material that is stronger, more durable, and built to resist insects, cracking, rotting, and weathering better than traditional wood can.   

With composite materials, you will likely not need to do much to retain its color year after year, unlike traditional wood decking. Another advantage is that composite decking is built to last an average of 25-30 years with little maintenance involved.    


Cost of Composite Decking

One thing to note about composite decking will present a more upfront cost than traditional wood. Including materials and labor, composites cost around $30-45 per square foot, (depending on the brand) compared to the $15-$25 price tag for natural wood. That being said, composite wood gives a more modern take on durability that is quite difficult to match. Composites do carry the higher price tag, but the time and money you’d be saving on upkeep may more than make up for the upfront cost.  


Color and Style Options

Another great thing about composite decking is that there are more than a few color options and styles to choose from. Most shades are made to look and feel like natural wood finishes (walnut, cedar, hickory, mahogany, and teak), but some manufacturers offer other neutral shades of gray or even custom colors to match your home and personal style preferences. 


Installation of Composite Decking

The short answer is yes, as composite decking materials can be bought at home improvement stores and installed by individuals, but it might be difficult to achieve the exact look you want if you choose to do the install by yourself. Just like a traditional wood deck, it might be best to hire a professional to make sure the finished product looks exactly how you want. With the higher cost of composite materials, there may not be as much room for error and it could end up costing you more if you run into any installation issues.         


Traditional Wood Decking vs. Composite Decking

Whether you decide to go the route of traditional wood decking or go for the composite option, it’s important to look at the advantages and disadvantages of both. It’s also important to ask about warranty options on materials and labor guarantees should your new deck sustain any damage. 

Don’t forget, you can also reach out to us anytime should you have any questions about adding on a new deck of your own, or if you’d like a free estimate! 




Related Categories: Decks