In the last few years more and more customers are asking what is the best option for them – wood deck or composite deck. There is no right or wrong answer – it really comes down to cost vs maintenance. OK – maybe not that simple but the reality is that composites have improved tremendously in the last 5 – 10 years and have become much more competitive in both price and having a more “natural” appearance. The first composites looked like fake plastic – the latest ones on the market – well you need to see them and form your own opinion.
Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts – ok and benefits – of each. For wood there are a number of choices but 3 primary – cedar, epe and mahogany. Each looks beautiful and is real wood, is naturally insect repellent and installs fairly simply by being either screwed or nailed down. The downfall of each of them is that they all need yearly maintenance to keep them looking beautiful and over time water and sun will start to cause damage. For cedar it is usually a pressure wash, full sanding of the deck and re-stain with a quality product. For epe and mahogany it is usually a light pressure wash, cleaning with product meant for each type of wood and then a re-wax or stain of the wood. Cedar is the least expensive in terms of both product cost and install cost with epe being the most labor intensive of the 3.
The benefits with the new lines of composite – either with a wood/pvc core and PVC outer layer or the full PVC variety – is that the maintenance is very minimal. Just a quick scrub with a water and dish washing soap (I prefer dawn) and a good water rinse 2 -3 times a year. Do not pressure wash your composite deck or you may destroy the outer PVC layer. Many of the composites are also starting to mimic their wood counterparts so the look and feel of the composite deck is not the old “fake plastic” look. Most composites also come with a 25 year to lifetime warranty as long as the deck was installed properly. The largest downfall of the composites – the cost. It is usually twice to three times the price of cedar although with the higher cost of epe or mahogany the price is less of an issue.