Despite my love for composite decking, other materials exist too, and you can use it for your own deck in your garden or nearby your swimming pool. But all materials are not similar and have specific uses or characteristics. This is why I’ve decided to create this comparison sheet so you can check what are the other possibilities and what you should use according to your needs. I will focus mostly on hardwood and softwood decking on this article.
Composite decking VS wood decking
There are two types of wood used for decking: softwood and hardwood. Both have their own characteristics, but you can compare it easily to composite materials.
When you chose to use wood for your deck, you have to remove the knots which means a lot of wasted timber. It is time consuming and generates lots of waste. It is way easier to install a composite decking than a wood decking, plus it has no visible screws if you chose to use hidden fasteners.
Wood decking is way cheaper than composite decking when you initially build it. It’s a fact. But over time, the price tend up to get equally as wood requires much more maintenance than composite. If you plan to ask for professionals for the maintenance of your deck, the price will be the same over time. Wood is cheaper if you plan to do your maintenance by yourself.
It is a fact: composite decking requires a lot less maintenance than other types of materials. When using hardwood or softwood for your deck, you will have to clean it regularly, but also to oil, to sand and to paint it. Composite decking is way less costly to maintain.
The main risks with decking are slippery when wet, gaps between the boards and cracks. Slippery isn’t really a problem with composite decking as it is made of wood and plastic, so it doesn’t absorb much water and consequently it dries fast. It doesn’t crack at all, and the gap between the boards is no more than 3-4 mm: lesser risk of children trapping their fingers between the gaps.
Wood decking tends to weather over time, sometimes even within a few months, meaning that you will have to clean it and re-oil it every few months. Composite decking is weather resistant and you won’t have to deal with these issues. A lot of manufacturers even offer warranties that lasts over several years. It is even more recommended to chose composite materials if you want to install your deck around your swimming pool, or if you live close to the sea.
Wood comes from forests which gets destroyed to make boards for decks. Most of the time, tropical forests are used, which is a huge issue for our planet. On the other hand, composite is made of wood flour, which is created with recycled furniture, and polymer: no harm for the forests!