Composite vs. Pressure Treated Decks: What is Right for You?
Is it time to build a deck or replace your old one? If so, you may be wondering whether to use pressure treated wood or composite boards. With a variety of options available, which is right for you? Let’s explore the pros and cons of each.
Pressure Treated Wood
As we all know, wood left to the elements decays rather quickly. Humid climates tend to host fungi, while climates that include rain, snow and sun eat away at the wood until termites get a whiff and come to finish it off. Woods that aren’t normally resistant to fungus and insects, as redwood and cedar are, can be made resistant by infusing the boards with chemical combinations. The process uses a vacuum and applies high pressure, causing the chemicals to be drawn through the wood.
Pros – Pressure treated wood costs the least because it requires no complex manufacturing process, as it comes straight from lumber. Therefore, it’s plentiful, sustainable and relatively cheap. Natural timber also pleases the eye. Humans can’t help but love the look and feel of real wood, at least when the surfaces are brand new and elegantly stained to enhance the beauty. Lumber also provides strength over distance, which requires fewer joists. Even soft pine takes heavier loads with wider spacing in the supports.
Cons – Although wood needs to be restained or painted about every two years, it will seem like every six months to the one who does the work. Staining slows down the effects of nature, but it will never win the battle. Eventually, the grain of pressure treated wood boards will become so open and porous that they will need to be replaced. The general lifespan of a pressure treated wood deck is between ten to fifteen years.
Composite boards consist of sawdust, or wood flour, and plastic along with a binding agent and pigments. Some products come with a plastic outer coat, called a cap.
Pros – If you want little maintenance, composite boards take the prize. A high-quality composite, such as Trex®, comes pre-colored and never needs stained or painted. The polymer binders and plastic prevent water penetration, rotting, warping and splitting. Coming in a variety of colors and styles, such as smooth or various woodgrain finishes, you can usually find a composite board to suit your tastes. On a good substructure, composites will outlast most wood products with many years to spare.
Cons – Composite boards cost considerably more than pressure treated wood. Even with UV resistant elements mixed in, the lower-end products can still fade over a few years. Those that you stain to your chosen color may need a reapplication every few years. Because composites will bow over distance, you need to space the joists closer together, which adds to the cost of construction.
Overall, if you plan to stay in your home for years to come, you’ll eventually spend the difference in price of a composite deck on the maintenance of a pressure treated one if you hire professionals for the maintenance.
At Quality Craftsmen, we can help you decide which type of decking material will best suit your situation. If you would like to speak to an experienced decking professional, please call and schedule a free consultation today.