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Wood vs. Low Maintenance Decks: Which Material is Right for You?

Choosing wood or low maintenance materials (such as TimberTech or AZEK) for your deck is a matter of personal preference. Before making your decision, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.

  • How much are you planning to invest in your deck or outdoor living space?
  • How long do you plan to live in your current home?
  • How much maintenance or upkeep are you comfortable with?
  • How do you plan to use the space and how can that affect your deck boards?

Custom composite deck
TimberTech low-maintenance deck in Brown Oak

The investment and why the length of time you stay in your home is important

A low maintenance deck will generally cost 50% – 70% more than a wood deck. If you’re planning to stay in your home for several years, low maintenance is a great cost-effective option. When you consider the cost of hiring someone to pressure wash and stain a wood deck, you’ll find you recoup the cost of the low maintenance deck in about fifteen years. In other words, while you may pay more upfront, that is 15 years without having to worry about pressure washing and staining your deck. Additionally, you’ll have about 10 more years of low maintenance bliss on your deck.

Alternatively, if you are only planning to stay in your current home for a few more years, wood is the more cost-effective option. You will still need to pressure wash and stain the deck every 1 – 3 years; however, if you only need to do this once or twice before you sell your home, it is well worth it. Keeping your deck maintained and aesthetically pleasing will increase your home’s value.

Custom wooden deck
Wood deck with herringbone decking board layout

How using your space can affect the material in different ways

Do you plan to grill on your deck or is this simply a space to sit and relax in? Will you be eating on your deck? Do you have large dogs that will be on the deck frequently? These are all aspects to consider as you determine the material that is best suited for your lifestyle.

Low maintenance boards tend to be more uniform than wood and do not splinter. Wood, on the other hand, more commonly splinters, fades and expands, and shrinks with the weather. While low maintenance is still subject to the outdoor elements, shrinking and expanding tends to be less.

Low maintenance boards, while easier to clean and maintain, are still susceptible to scratches, as well as staining from materials such as cooking oils, harsh chemicals, gasoline, and paint thinners. On a wood deck, stains such as this may be sanded away, however, sanding is not recommended for low maintenance material.

Custom deck with black rails
TimberTech low-maintenance deck with low-maintenance black rails

If you do need to clean your low maintenance deck, a soft brush and gentle soap should work well. Use a soap recommended by your product’s company. Under extreme circumstances, you may need to replace a board or two. Alternatively, wood boards can be sanded, pressure washed, and stained to remove blemishes.

If you are ready to discuss options for your new Chicagoland deck, we are ready to work with you! Sign up for a free design consultation or call Archadeck of Chicagoland at (847) 250-4100 to speak with a design consultant and begin creating your new dream space.