As a homeowner, there are certain choices you can make that can bite you in the butt. Choosing to build your dream deck can eventually become a small nightmare, or not. In my relentless search for materials, my brother suggested that I use a composite deck board, an option which I personally had never considered. He had recently replaced his wood deck with composite and swore by it. I was going to take some convincing, because I love the look and feel of wood over plastic.
I grew up climbing around on wooden decks. My cherished memories of the warm and natural look and feel were special to me. Needless to say I was skeptical. Just a year earlier my brother’s deck was beautiful wood perfection, and we spent a magical time enjoying several cool, crisp nights out on what I believed to be a perfectly good deck. Wood decking is familiar, readily available, and affordable.
Why change it? Why get a composite deck in the first place?
LOOKS: Composite is similar to wood
Recently I visited his house to see his new deck. My brother proudly opened the doors to his backyard and presented his new composite deck. Have to admit it, it was beautiful and not at all what I was expecting.
Years ago when some of the playgrounds in Chicago were being switched out from old wood to composite, the new stuff looked artificial and plastic.
His new deck had boards that had a random grain patterns, a beautiful natural stain color, and they didn’t look like plastic at all. These closely resembled wooden deck boards.
- COMPOSITE DECKING- A long time ago it had looked like plastic, however as time has gone by composites closely resemble wooden deck boards and look beautiful.
- WOOD- Wood deck boards look great initially, with a traditional feel and appearance, but over time they fade, splinter, warp, and are susceptible to bug damage.
MAINTENANCE: Low Maintenance for Composite Decking
“What about the maintenance? Any special things you have to do with composite?” I asked. My brother smiled and explained that his decking headaches are over. Apparently, wood deck boards absorb water and need a regular application of stains, sealers, or paint. He had also been dealing with areas of the massive deck that were warping, splintering, cracking, rotting, and suffering insect damage. I guess moisture really does a number on wood and it constantly needs to be maintained.
The composite boards are moisture-resistant and don’t require any additional applications. All he had to worry about was sweeping and cleaning the outdoor area.
- COMPOSITE Decking- Extremely low maintenance. Only needs to be cleaned occasionally.
- WOOD- Needs to be maintained regularly. Will need cleaning, sanding, re-staining, painting, and replacements. Will need to watch for warping, splintering, cracking, rotting, and insect damage.
“What about the cost? I hear that composite decking is really expensive.” My brother paused and explained that it’s a little more expensive than certain types of wood, but honestly with the time, effort, and money that goes into maintaining a wooden deck, the composite deck will pay for itself within two or three years.
When he installed the wooden deck the initial cost was lower but with his maintenance of the deck it was equal to the cost of the composite deck that he just installed.
“Had I gone with the composite deck in the first place, I would have saved myself money and headaches.” My brother laughed.
- COMPOSITE- Is more expensive than real wood, however over time the cost may pay for itself since there is less maintenance. Plus some have a 30-year warranty.
- WOOD- Initially less-expensive, it will need to be regularly maintained and will need replacing much sooner than composite.
I was sold. I looked into TimberTech Pro decking which is well suited for Chicago weather which is extreme cold, extreme heat, and extreme weather, so it ticked all the boxes. I am very excited about building my own dream deck with a product that is low maintenance. I want to relax on my deck, not work on it year round.
If you are planning your own dream deck and have been wondering what materials will keep it an outdoor living dream and not a nightmare, I recommend checking out composite decking boards.