Composite decking once had a bad reputation, but as manufacturers responded to consumers’ concerns, they’ve changed much of their products. If you’re building a deck and trying to determine which materials you should use, it is wise to revisit the idea of composite decking again. We’ll outline the pros and cons of this material below.
Pro: Truly Natural Look
While composite decking once looked like plastic, there are now options on the market which look much more like real wood. Some capture a realistic texture and shine that will look very natural on your deck. Others will obviously be composite on close inspection.
What if you don’t want a natural look? Composite is available in a range of colors, some closer to real wood and others more vibrant and interesting. You can get a wide range of looks from composite materials.
Con: You Pay For Quality
How do you get that natural-wood look? You pay for it. Composite decking’s look and other elements of quality vary greatly depending on the price you are willing to pay. For those with larger budgets, composite can be an exceptional choice. For those who feel a bit more constrained, you may need to be careful about which product you choose. In general, you will need to set more money aside for composite than you would for a mid-grade wood species.
Pro: Highly Durable
Composite is a durable material that can stand up to many of the environmental risks that are challenging for real wood. Even in high moisture conditions, it will resist rotting and warping very well. Insects and animals will often leave composite material alone where they would destroy wood. Overall, a composite deck may last longer than a wooden one, particularly if you know you might not be diligent about deck maintenance tasks.
Con: Sagging and Slipping
While composite materials are highly durable, they may develop two issues, one of which you probably wouldn’t face with real wood. First, composite decking can sag over time. They are not immune to conditions where they are asked to hold too much weight. So, you should choose a deck builder with experience with this material to ensure that the deck is well designed and will hold up to weight over time.
The other issue is slipping. Composite material is imbued with plastic-like polymers, which can create a slippery surface, particularly if the deck gets wet near the pool or in the rain. Not all composite materials will be slippery.
Pro: Less Maintenance
Composite decks will require so much less maintenance than a wood deck. They will save you a weekend or more of work every other year. You do not need to stain, paint, or treat composite decking. You do need to sweep them off as you would a wooden deck, and you may need to wash them occasionally to keep them clean too. However, when you use composite you are spared the worst tasks of deck maintenance like sealing.
Should You Get Composite Decking?
Ultimately, whether you should invest in a composite deck depends on your priorities. But professionals can help you assess your options and your needs.