If you’re building a new deck, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is what kind of decking you’ll use. The vast majority of decking surfaces are constructed with composite or treated wood. But which is best for your home and budget? Here’s a comparison of your options from our home remodeling pros.

A Note About Your Deck’s Construction

All decks are framed with treated lumber. You’ll be choosing the material used on the decking surface and railings—either wood or composite boards.

Wood Decking

Wood boards remain a popular choice for decks. You can paint or stain a wood deck in virtually any color. The downside is that wood decking is susceptible to the elements and requires more maintenance. If you’re going with wood decking, you’ll have three types to choose from.

PRESSURE-TREATED WOOD

Pressure-treated wood—most of which comes from fir or pine trees—is your least expensive decking option. The chemical treatment makes it resistant to weathering, rot, and insect damage. It’s fairly easy to install, making it a good choice for homeowners on a budget. The downside to this type of decking is that it is susceptible to splitting, cracking, and warping. It should be refinished with a clear sealer or stain every other year. However, with proper maintenance and care, your pressure-treated deck should last about 15-20 years.

NATURAL WOOD

Natural woods, including cedar or redwood, are easy to work with and naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insects. They offer a beautiful, bright tone that can be easily stained. These benefits come at a price, though. Natural woods can cost up to two-thirds more than pressure-treated wood and require annual finishing. You can expect to get about 15-20 years out of a natural wood deck.

Cedar deckingThis gorgeous cedar deck is naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insects. Source:  realcedar.com

EXOTIC WOOD

If you’re looking for a beautiful, high-end look. Consider an exotic hardwood wood like ipe (pronounced ee-pay). Found in South America and some parts of Central America, ipe is an extremely dense hardwood—up to three times harder than cedar. Ipe is naturally rot and insect-resistant, and can last for 25 or more years with proper maintenance. It’s your priciest wood option (comparable to the cost of composite decking) and installation is more labor-intensive since the boards are so heavy and dense. 

COMPOSITE DECKING

Available since the late 1990’s, composite decking is growing in popularity as companies like Trex and Timbertech continue to make advances in the product. Today’s higher-end composite deck boards mimic the natural colors, streaks, and tones of real wood. You’ll never have to worry about warping, rot, or splinters. Composite decking is virtually maintenance-free and may last 30 or more years. While the product has come a long way, traditionalists would argue that there’s nothing quite like the look and feel of real wood. It may be your most expensive decking option in terms of both product and installation costs. However, you may believe that its many longstanding benefits outweigh the initial investment.  

Choosing Between Wood & Composite Decking

If you prefer the aesthetic of real wood, don’t mind the responsibility of ongoing maintenance, and are looking for a lower installation cost, a wood deck could be the right choice for you. If you are looking for a low-maintenance deck that will last for years to come, and are able to invest more money up front, a composite deck might be your best option.

Deck Builders in NH’s Lakes Region, White Mountains, and Northern ME

Thinking about installing a new deck? Get in touch with the home remodeling professionals at Cormack Construction. We’ll walk you through your material and design options so you can get the best deck design for your needs and budget.


Feature photo: Timbertech.com

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