Deck Designs: Composite vs. Pressure Treated Wood

 pressure treated deck vs composite deck

When it comes to outdoor living spaces, there’s no denying the appeal of great deck designs. However, there’s a choice to be made in what material to use when building that deck. The two most popular materials are pressure treated wood and Trex decking (a composite decking material).

So, what exactly are these two materials? To start, pressure treated wood undergoes a chemical process that helps the wood withstand the varying elements of weather. It also helps to ward off insects, microorganisms, and fungal decay. During the pressure treating process, wood is also saturated with a water-soluble chemical. With a composite decking material, such as Trex, it typically consists of various types of plastic that are mixed with wood particles. Because it’s made up of a considerable amount of plastic, composite decking will not succumb to rot or insect damage.

Still, which of these two is right for you? To help you better evaluate which material will best fit your new deck, we are going to compare the two materials in three major categories: Upkeep, Cost, and Aesthetics.

  1. Upkeep

    Composite – Although very durable, composite decking still requires some maintenance, as it’s still susceptible to the outdoor elements. For example, mold can grow on its surface and the nuisance of pollen can cover a deck just like it does your house and car. With respect to cleaning a composite material, you can pressure wash it, or apply a mild detergent with a soft-bristled brush. This will rid the surface of most mildew, pollen, and other debris. Mildew left for long periods of time, however, may require a deeper cleaning technique.  It’s important to note that you do not want to use bleach, as it can fade the deck. Instead, if mold detergent doesn’t do the trick, choose a cleaner made specifically for composites, or hire a professional deck cleaner qualified to treat tough stains.

    Pressure Treated Wood – Wood deck designs require more upkeep than composite decks and will need to be sealed and stained. Most professionals recommend sealing and staining the wood every year. For interim maintenance, if the deck becomes dirty, especially when it’s pollen season, it’s best to use a soft bristle brush and mild soap or detergent to clean the wood. Avoid power washing, as this can cause the wood to strip and splinter.

  2. Cost

    Composite – When compared to pressure treated wood, the cost to construct a composite deck can be double the price, however, it’s the durability of this material that makes it worth every penny for homeowners. A composite material can last up to 50 years, and most manufacturers, like Trex, offer either a 25-year or limited-lifetime warranty on structural integrity. Some warranties are even transferable from one homeowner to another. Most composite manufacturers also offer everything you need to finish deck designs like fascia boards, railings, balusters, treads, posts, etc. These finishing touches can be made in the same color & material making a cohesive design.

    Pressure Treated Wood – On the other hand, simply put, pressure treated wood may only last you 10-15 years, if that, and offers no warranty.

  3. Aesthetics

    Composite – From afar, composite decking material resembles real wood and depending on the color, painted wood.   Many homeowners considering composite often ask if the material can be painted when it fades and/or when they want to change the look. The answer to this question varies. Some companies do sell paints specifically for composites. However, prior to attempting such a task, speak to the manufacturer of the deck you purchased as well as a professional painter. You’ll find numerous horror stories on the Internet from homeowners who, facing a faded composite deck, painted with a product that ended up peeling within a year or so.

    Pressure Treated Wood – If you love the authentic look of real wood, pressure treated wood is for you! It is, however, a necessity to stain and seal your deck to maintain its integrity. Therefore, you do have the flexibility to change the look of you deck at any time.

A deck can help expand your living and entertaining space, and can help maximize outdoor enjoyment! Let us help you decide what material is best for your home and your budget. We can make your deck dreams a reality!

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