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Wood vs. composite -- which is the best choice for my Dayton deck?

Once you have decided upon the type of outdoor living structure you want to add to your home and landscape, the decisions won’t end there. Once the placement and design have been confirmed, the next round of decisions you will need to make are material selections.

Child and dog

When it comes to decks there are generally two choices, these are wood or composite (synthetic). Choosing whether to use wood or composite for your decking boards is not a simple decision. Both wood and composite have pros and cons. Simply put, a composite deck will perform better and cost more. A wooden deck will cost significantly less and still perform well. Wood, however, will certainly not last as long as composite and will require regular maintenance.

Answering these questions will aid in making the decision of wood or composite:

  • How long are you going to be in your home?

This is the deal breaker for many homeowners, but out of all the questions you need to ask yourself, this may be the most important. If you are planning on being in your home for another 10 or 20 years, then a composite/synthetic warranty will still be in effect. Some of the benefits of choosing composite/synthetic decking include the lower maintenance aspect over that of traditional wood, it lasts longer, resists staining and scratching, and many come with anti-fade warranties depending on the specific brand. This means your synthetic deck will likely look as good 20 years from now as it does the day it was installed with minimal maintenance.

Deck with barbeque

Natural wood may have no warranty or a limited lifetime warranty. But, this does not mean that a wood deck will suffer from all the maladies covered by a composite warranty. Wood decks can still last 15 or 20 years and still look good if properly maintained. Because composites are low maintenance, carry such a long warranty, and will look the same in 10 years as it does today, a composite deck is a good investment if it makes sense for your budget.

  • How do you feel about maintenance?

Do you get crabby just thinking about cleaning, staining or sealing a wooden deck? Or, does the annual deck maintenance fall into the category of just another outdoor task that has to be conquered? I’ve found that people generally either don’t mind this at all or simply won’t invest in materials that require annual maintenance — there is no gray area here (no pun intended). In order for wood to look good from year to year, it will require annual maintenance. In addition, this annual maintenance will have a cost involved that includes material and possibly labor if you choose to have someone do this for you.

Powerwashing a deck

  • How authentic do you want your decking to look?

Nothing looks more like wood than wood itself. Composites have come a long way and they’re looking better all the time. They are adding more streaking and ridges but this is one category where they will forever be chasing the real thing – natural wood.

Deck with white railing

  • Would you rather pay more now and less over time or less now and more over time?

This may sound like a riddle, but regardless of all of the features and benefits of composite, it still needs to make sense for your budget. A well-maintained wood deck can last a good 15-20 years, or even longer, however, any wood will inevitably wear and tear over time. True wood lovers will always prefer the genuine original, and most are more-than- willing to pay the costs associated with maintenance.

It would be easy if the physical characteristics and warranty were the only factors to consider when choosing a decking material. But, after making an intellectual decision, we then need to make the aesthetic decision.

Here at Archadeck of West Central & Southwest Ohio, we have many decking materials to choose from. We can help you decide on a wood or synthetic decking material. This includes synthetic materials such as composites, capstock and solid PVC that are composed of elements that stabilize and protect them from UV damage.

Roger Miller

Contact us today to learn more at (937) 563-4847 or (513) 897-2040. You can also email us at

“Let Archadeck makes your outdoor living dreams come true."