Composite Decking Versus Wood

Wood is the traditional choice for building a deck, but it needs a lot of maintenance and care. That’s why other types of decking material such as composites are becoming so popular. But, which is better overall: a composite or wooden deck? The guide below starts with a side-by-side comparison table, before covering each point (look, durability, lifespan, maintenance, cost and recyclability) in more depth.

 

Composite Decking vs. Wood

Composite, hardwood, softwood, PVC, aluminium – if you want to build a deck, you’re spoilt for choice in materials. So let’s take a look at a pros-and-cons overview of composite decking vs. treated wood:

 

Composite Wood
Appearance Clean and consistent Traditional
Strength Solid, doesn’t chip or scratch easily Durable if well cared for, but can splinter
Lifespan 20-25 years Variable
Maintenance Occasional sweeping and cleaning Cleaning, sealing etc.
Cost Higher initial cost Lower initial cost
Recyclable Yes Yes

 

Which Looks Better: Composite or Wood Decking?

This is one point that’s very much down to personal taste. While composite is designed to look a lot like wood, it’s not the exact same. If you’ve never seen a composite deck up close before, it’s not smooth plastic. It’s textured and grainy, but is consistent enough to give a smooth, clean look from a distance. If you want a rustic aesthetic, then there’s nothing better than wood. But if you just want a regular patio, or you’re going for a sharp, modern look, then composite decking is by far the better choice.

 

Composite Decking Maintenance vs. Wood

From here on out, you’ll be hearing an awful lot about how great composite decking is, starting with its maintenance needs! A wooden deck needs to be sealed, treated, painted and cleaned regularly if it’s to stay in top condition. Composite, by contrast, requires hardly any maintenance. You need to sweep, mop and clean it occasionally— every six months or so is perfect. You don’t need to seal it with Ronseal or repaint it for it to keep its colour, which means it saves you time, money and effort.

 

 

Which Is Stronger: Composite or Wood?

Composite can stand up to harsher treatment than wood. You can spill things on it, drop heavy things on it, let your pets walk on it and generally treat it roughly; but it’s designed to be chip and scratch-resistant. Certain woods will have more fundamental structural integrity, in the sense that it can bear a greater load.

 

What Lasts Longer: Composite Decking or Wood Decking?

As composite decking doesn’t rot, warp or splinter, it won’t surprise you to learn that it lasts longer too. Composite lasts for twenty plus years, whereas wooden decks last ten years on average. The reason it lasts so long is that it’s resistant to mould, rot and insects. Even if you take care to maintain a wooden deck, it could be affected in places you can’t easily see or reach, and no sealant or paint lasts forever. But like we mentioned above, composite doesn’t need maintenance to stay in good shape—its natural durability means it lasts for decades as it is.

 

Composite Decking vs. Wood Cost

One drawback to composite is that it tends to cost more than wood. That’s because it costs more to produce. While prices understandably vary, the initial cost of buying composite deck boards and having them installed is more than the price of wood. What’s also true, though, is that the long-term costs of composite are much lower. Given that it lasts twice as long, has lower ongoing maintenance costs with no sealing, painting and treatment, it does make it the obvious long-term financial winner.

 

Is Composite Decking Recyclable Like Wood?

The best thing about composite decking is that it’s recyclable, too. While not as simple to recycle as wooden decking, it is possible to separate the wood fibres and HDPE, and both materials are recyclable. WPC products can be repurposed for other building products like wall partitions. If you’d like to know more about composite decks, what it’s like to have one and what makes them so great, then please feel free to get in touch. You can either call us at 0845 9011 988 or email us at [email protected].

Gary is the founder and CEO of Ecoscape UK. Gary graduated from Liverpool JM University in 2007 with a 2:1 in Economics. A passion for innovation, design and sustainability, Gary has put to market numerous wpc products/systems, some of which have UK and European registered designs. Outside of work Gary enjoys spending time with his family, the great outdoors and watching Manchester United.

Comments

Comments (08)

  1. Paul Lane
    April 22, 2024

    “Great comparison breakdown of composite decking versus wood! It’s clear that both have their pros and cons, but I’m curious about the cost aspect. While composite may have a higher initial cost, does it end up being more cost-effective in the long run due to its durability and low maintenance? I’m also interested in the recyclability factor. Overall, this article has definitely given me a lot to consider when it comes to choosing the right decking material for my project.”

  2. David Smith
    April 23, 2024

    “Great comparison between composite and wood decking! I’ve always been curious about the differences and this article provided a clear breakdown. I’ve heard that composite is more durable and requires less maintenance, but I’m still unsure about the initial cost. Do you have any recommendations on where to purchase composite decking? Thanks for the helpful information!”

  3. Darren Musgrave
    April 23, 2024

    “Great comparison between composite and wood decking! It’s interesting to see the pros and cons laid out side by side. Personally, I love the clean and consistent appearance of composite decking, but I’ve heard mixed opinions about its durability. Do you have any recommendations on where to purchase a good quality composite decking? Thanks for the informative article!”

    • Nick Benn
      April 23, 2024

      I’m glad you found the comparison helpful! However, I’m curious about the mixed opinions on the durability of composite decking. Can you provide any specific examples or sources? And as for purchasing, have you had any personal experience with different brands or retailers?

  4. Nick Craggs
    April 23, 2024

    Great article comparing composite decking versus wood! It’s always been a tough decision for me when it comes to choosing the right material for a deck. This guide provides a helpful breakdown of the key factors to consider. Personally, I appreciate the low maintenance aspect of composite decking, but I do wonder about the initial cost and long-term durability. Overall, this article has given me a better understanding of the pros and cons of each option. I’m now considering composite for my next deck project. Do you have any recommendations on where to purchase quality composite decking?

  5. Joshua
    April 23, 2024

    This article provides a comprehensive comparison between composite and wood decking, making it easier to choose the right material for building a deck. The pros and cons of each material are clearly outlined, helping readers make an informed decision. However, I am curious about the purchasing process for composite decking. Overall, great job on breaking down the key factors to consider when choosing between composite and wood decking.

  6. Emma
    April 23, 2024

    “Great comparison between composite and wood decking. It’s interesting to see the pros and cons laid out side by side. Personally, I prefer the look of wood, but the maintenance and durability of composite decking is definitely appealing. I’m curious about the cost difference between the two and if there are any specific brands or materials you would recommend. Overall, this article has given me a lot to consider before making a decision. Thanks for the helpful information!”

  7. Harrison chambers
    April 23, 2024

    This article provides a thorough comparison between composite and wooden decking, covering important factors such as appearance, strength, durability, lifespan, maintenance, cost, and recyclability. It’s interesting to see how composite decking can offer a more durable and low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood. However, I’m curious about the purchasing process for composite decking. Perhaps including some tips or recommendations on where to buy it would be helpful for readers. Overall, a great read for anyone considering building a deck.