Are you are currently trying to decide whether to add a pressure-treated wood deck or low-maintenance composite deck to your home? Are you trying to compare the immediate costs and the long-term costs? Prepare to be surprised.
Decks of all kinds are extremely popular in the Nashville area – and for good reason. They provide a comfortable, convenient and private area for relaxation and entertaining outdoors at your home. As you weigh the pros and cons of wood and composite/synthetic decks, Archadeck of Nashville would like to clear up a popular misconception. The idea that low-maintenance decks are more expensive than wood decks is usually not true when you factor in the ongoing cost of wood deck maintenance. A low-maintenance deck will save you enough money over time that it will end up costing less than a wood deck of comparable size. And sooner than you might expect!
Note that here we are talking about pressure-treated wood. We also build wood decks out of hardwoods, sometimes referred to as exotic hardwoods, like ipe (pronounced ee-pay). Hardwood decks are beautiful and last longer than decks of pressure-treated wood. They are more expensive to build and they also require periodic wood maintenance to keep looking great.
The belief that composite and synthetic decks are exorbitantly more expensive than pressure-treated wood decks has practically become an urban legend. Or would that be a suburban legend? Over the years, many homeowners have accepted this belief as true. It’s a misconception that’s often spread by small-time deck builders who lack the proper training and experience to build decks with composite/synthetic materials. They would rather you choose a wood deck.
This misinformation is also spread by homeowners who don’t actually know the facts but have been convinced. Through no fault of their own, they have perpetuated a misconception. We can put this debate to rest now.
How to Estimate the Cost of Wood Deck Maintenance Over Time
The cost of wood deck maintenance can easily come to $2-$4 per square foot, per year – or more – if you hire professionals for the task. Most of our clients have no desire to perform wood deck maintenance themselves. It can take a lot of hard work! A simple one-level, low-to-grade deck without railings or more than a couple of steps will be less expensive to maintain. An elevated or multi-level deck with wood railings and lots of steps will require more work and more supplies and therefore will be more expensive.
How frequently will a wood deck require maintenance? Many experts recommend annual cleaning/sanding/staining/sealing for wood decks. On our web page Nashville Custom Deck Builder,
we explain that the frequency of wood maintenance depends on your deck’s location. Will your deck be exposed to full sun most of the day? Will it be under the cover of a heavily wooded lot? Your deck may need maintenance more frequently (semi-annually) or less frequently than once a year.
In our experience, after you pay for wood deck cleaning/sanding/staining/sealing 3-5 times, you will have paid the cost of a composite deck of comparable size. In other words, after about five years, you will recoup the cost of your investment in a low-maintenance deck compared to a wood deck. Beyond that time frame, you will not have saved money by choosing a pressure-treated wood deck.
Without Proper Maintenance, Your Wood Deck Will Let You Down
The problem with wood deck maintenance is that if you don’t make the effort to stay on top of it, the wood surfaces will become unsightly. Wood fibers will break down under direct sunlight. Rotting leaves and sap from trees can harm the wood as well. Moisture and insects can penetrate wood and cause ongoing damage. Eventually a poorly-maintained deck will be vulnerable to structural damage and become a safety hazard. That’s in addition to just looking bad.
Keep in mind that without regularly-scheduled maintenance, wood decks will never again look as good as when they were new. They just keep deteriorating. Composite and synthetic decking like TimberTech AZEK will look like new for 25 to 50 years. Just sweep it to keep it free of leaves, and hose it down when needed. No sanding, staining or sealing required. Ever.
Low-Maintenance Decks Last Longer than Well-Maintained Wood Decks
A well-maintained wood deck has a life expectancy of about 15 years. Here’s another reason to consider a composite or synthetic deck: these decks will last about twice as long as a deck built with pressure-treated wood.
It’s hard to generalize about the life expectancy of composite/synthetic decks. There are several brands in the marketplace and their life expectancies vary. At Archadeck of Nashville, we work predominately with TimberTech AZEK decking products for the low-maintenance decks we build. TimberTech AZEK, one company now, offers different warranty periods for their three decking product lines. The warranty periods give you a rough idea of life expectancy, although that is not hard and fast.
We call these three TimberTech product lines “good/better/best.” They are all great!
- The “good” product line is TimberTech Edge, composite decking that comes with a 25-year product warranty and fade & stain warranty. You know your TimberTech Edge deck is going to look great for at least 25 years.
- The “better” product line is TimberTech Pro, composite decking that comes with a 30-year product warranty and fade & stain warranty.
- The “best” product line is TimberTech AZEK, synthetic (PVC) decking that comes with a lifetime product warranty and 50-year fade & stain warranty.
The pressure-treated wood deck is not looking like a cost-saving option any longer, is it? First, your composite deck costs less than your well-maintained wood deck after a handful of years have passed. Second, after about 15 years the cost of your wood deck will double when you replace it. The composite deck still looks like new after 15 years and it will not yet need to be replaced.
Read Archadeck Partners With Timbertech/Azek For Best Deck Warranties for information about Archadeck’s extended labor warranty when we build your deck with TimberTech products.
Read Nashville TimberTech and AZEK Deck Builder to see the many reasons our customers love TimberTech AZEK™ decking.
Whether you’re dreaming of adding a low-maintenance deck, wood deck or a deck and paver patio combination, we would love to design and build your project. Why wait? Contact Archadeck of Nashville today to schedule a design consultation for your new outdoor living space.