Which Is the Best Decking Material: Wood or Composite?

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Subject: Were building a deck. And we

Were building a deck. And we cant find which composite should we use. Our deck will be covered. We live in vancouver washington. Any suggestion? Thanks in advance.


Subject: Composite

After 7 years of a composite deck, I am now having to remove the whole thing and replace the sub-structure... Being as the plastic just saturates everything below it, the frame of my deck has complete rotted out and is collasping. First, and last time, for composite for me, ever.


Subject: composite decking

did you wrap the treated joists with joist wrap to keep the moisture out of the nail holes & screw holes...??? Wrapping the joists with joist wrap seals the tops of the joist from water penetration.


Subject: decking materials

I love my composite decking! I installed it 9 years ago and it still looks good. I did have a problem with drainage because the idiot I had install it did it wrong (put the boards too close together) but drilling a few 1/4" holes here and there resolved the issue. But other than that, it still looks great. I have a hot tub on it and there has never been a problem with it being slippery. It faces southeast and has not been too hot to walk on. It also holds up to our massive Colorado snows in the winter.

As far as prices for maintenance quoted in the article--they were really close to what a friend of mine has paid since I got my deck done and her deck is smaller than mine. It just depends on your area of the country and labor costs.


Subject: The sad thing regarding this

The sad thing regarding this decking install , is that you never should have had to drill the product full of holes for drainage. This product is mean to last. compromising the structure never should have been in the works. Ideally this is why suggested product is cedar. Natural drainage. Yes, there is treatment requirements to maintain the real wood decking, avoiding compromising the product you spent extra money on, drilling holes it, unfortunately makes the product of synthetic less valuable. In the future I hope you will consider a real wood product vs synthetic/composite. Best of luck to you.

Brian Petts

Subject: Composite or wood decking

Two things to remember, all composite decking is not the same, high and low qualities exist, do your homework FIRST.
Second point composite claims "no maintenance" not true, cleaning composites properly is tricky and required yearly in shaded areas, however cleaning is all that is required, never a stain or sealer.


Subject: Deck wood vs composite

Had a pressure treated wood deck for many years at my previous home. Lots of work, splinters, and rotting rails. Current home has composite decking and we will NEVER go back to wood. The appearance, strength and ease of care is incomparable. I am in no way associated with marketing or sales of decking material.

Sandy Siegel Miller

Subject: Trex decking

I just completed a re-decking of my wooden deck using Trex composite. It looks beautiful and I'm looking forward to low maintenance. However within three months of installation a plastic piece (4x4 post skirt) broke. Trex will replace the $5 part but will do nothing about the $100 it will cost to remove the railing, post sleeve, and replace the broken part. I'm disappointed that they don't stand behind their materials.


Subject: Trex decking

I had a similar experience. We had several boards that were bad (color was off and some had flaws in the material). They sent someone out to look at it and they agreed to replace about 10 boards, HOWEVER - they only guarantee their product and no costs are covered for uninstalling and re-installing the new product. Read the guarantee carefully!


Subject: deck stain

I have never stained a deck I own. No benefit in the long run and it makes you have to keep staining year after year so the color does not fade.


Subject: Natural Wood Deck Material

I agree both decking material having their own advantages. But i like the most is natural wood material. Last year i built a wooden deck in my home the look, the finishing and the overall appearance is completely amazing as compared composite deck. Appreciate your sharing


Subject: wood deck

I do prefer wood deck , not pressure treated , I agree with most of your post I strongly differ on using a paint sprayer , the reason is simple , the stain or sealant is atomized before it hit the deck , the result is a very thin coat , We either rolled or brushed the product , dry deck will absorb more , which is the intent , the finish will last much longer , result less call for the customer and much better protection , draw back take longer , which is why I say you get what you paid for

dennis woods

Subject: maintenance cost

I think Tom is going to do the maintenance himself. this must be why he feels the cost is ludicrous. And for the record, when it comes to paint and stain you get what you pay for. Not to mention a dry deck will soak up a lot of stain and not yield what the can promises. And if you have enough sense to spray it, you will lose a little stain as well.

Carol Crawford

Subject: Armadillo Composite Deck Boards

We built a large deck with Armadillo decking 3 years ago & love it! My husband & I installed the deck boards ourselves and it was very easy to work with. It feels so smooth under bare feet. As a friend of ours said, it feels so sexy on the feet! lol
Armadillo shouldn't be mixed up with Rhino board, it's totally different, but I believe manufactured by the same company.(?) It has not faded, and our deck faces south, and is very easy to clean with mild soap & water, then rinse clean...Well worth the extra $'s.


Subject: Composite Decks

You didn't mention which type of deck is better for a shady area. I have a tree that is over my deck. I am curious if composite gets moldier if there is more shade.


Subject: Substructure

One quick point of clarification- most, but not all, decks use lumber for the substructure of a deck. Trex provides another option called "Elevations", a steel deck framing for your composite deck.


Subject: replacing wood deck

our deck is 13 years we are trying to decide on composite or wood-does the composite material get really hot with direct summer sun? and is it very slippery when wet?


Subject: Deck Material Temperature

We replaced a pressure treated staircase with a composite staircase in the same color. The composite was notably hotter. (You could walk on the wood, but not the composite in your bare feet.)

A local deck builder told us that in dark colors, composites ran 8-10 degrees hotter than wood. In lighter colors, it was 3-5 degrees.

Doug Jones

Subject: composite or wood

I am a deck builder in Tampa Fl. I have always been OK with PT wood, #1 grade.
The best grade is much much less than composite or PVC.
The big difference though...even with sealer, COMPOSITE IS SMOOTH for the entire 10-20 years...of course there have been some problems with some of them, but most of them look the SAME for the entire life, besides a 10% fade in color.


Subject: Deck maintenance

Thanks, Tom. I was thinking the same. That's a lot of money for maintenance, and even if it did cost that much, it's still much cheaper than composite decking. The composite costs are literally double. It would take 15-20 years to make it worth the cost, and by then you could have done a new deck entirely, after only 10 yrs.


Subject: maintenance cost way off

300 sq foot deck with no railings, ground level would only need 2 gallons of $50 a gallon deck stain or $100 per every 2 years. $700 is ludicrous and appears trumped up to sell more composite decking. Even if factoring in professional labor to do the work for you it would be a fraction of the absurd price. more clarification or breakdown is necessary.

Tim Slamans

Subject: Maintenance cost

Hi Tom,
Sorry I did forget to mention that this example did include railings. I am figuring about 3 gallons of stain = $150 plus $550 worth of labor and profit. In the Chicago market I would say this price is about middle of the road.

Tim Slamans


Subject: Deck

We are planning to extend our existing composite deck and would like to get An estimate.

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I agree with Jim Casper - after about 50 years of dealing with weathered wood finishing both in my homes and in the construction business, it comes down to about 90% preparation, 10% the finishing. If you do not prep the wood right, any moisture, mold, etc in the wood will destroy whatever you put over it.

High-build finishes like paint and epoxies and, from reading the Rustoleum flyer on this new product that too, work by trying to make an impenetrable surface and depend on a very good bond with the surface, AND no water getting under them. Because they are thick and are designed to provide a waterproof surface, unfortunately where water gets under them they are just as good or better at keeping it from evaporating, so you get fungal growth, blistering, and peeling.

Unfortunately, on deck and most outdoor applications except siding the surface will get nicked, scratched and otherwise develop leaks in short order. Water will therefore get into the underlying wood, and because it entered through small cracks and scratches, does not have any airflow to make it evaporate, so it sits there and breaks the finish bond to the wood (causing peeling and blisters), and promotes decay. That is why new deck boards and siding and trim that have been heavily or multi-coat painted on all 4 sides, thinking that will give the best protection, only last a few years versus the usual 10-20 years or so for boards that are painted top and sides only.

The full sun and hot conditions will, of course, cause more thann normal heating of dark colored painted decking. I had one instance where I was doing an independent appraisal of a very large commercial deck at a government facility, and in 85-90 degree daytime temps, in the sushine the chocolate brown deck surface temp was 150 degrees, and the paint was softening so much it stuck to the bottom of your shoes a couple of months after application.

As Jim said, the studies pretty clearly show that a breathable penetrating stain gives the best life, after plain ACA/CCA (copper chromium variations - the green stuff) treated wood. Penetrating stains, properly applied, do NOT seal in the moisture, they inhibit its entry and (when dark colored) help protect against sun damage to the wood and finish, but still breathe enough to let moisture escape on dry days. For my money, I will only use petroleum distillate (paint thinner cleanup) products, as they penetrate into the wood much better. Water based ones immediately start swelling the wood pores, so it blocks further penetration of the stain, which while cleanup is a bit easier, totally defeats the purpose of a PENETRATING stain or sealer.

I would recommend against any sort of waterproofing sealer, as they trap the water just like paint, and I have never seen one that is effective for 2 years.

My personal preference, though it limits the architectural coloration possibilities, is ground-contact rated copper compound treated wood (NOT the Wolmanized brown product), which comes green initially but can be retreated with either green or brown solution or can be liquid colorized darker (though not easily to a specific tone) using either of those as a base. My practice is to redo the treatment before installation to ensure thorough treatment, as from the mill it commonly has skips where boards contacted each other or where stacking seperators laid on it, and the ends are commonly very poorly done. This is done after cutting to length, as cut ends have to be retreated anyway.  A simple short deck cleaner soak followed by a light pressure washing and brush or roller re-treating of ONLY the TOP surface every 10 years or so has, for me, reduced visible weathering of the boards and beams to negligible.

As stated by others: You get what you pay for.  Many contractors no longer use employees.  The cost/benefit ratio is gone by the time worker's comp. insurance, unemplyment and other taxes are paid.  Especially with the high turnover in our industry.  Many, myself included, have our guys set up as sub-contractors.  That means even if the job is only for a day the duties have been outlined and a set pay to complete those duties has been established from the onset.  It's a better way to manage costs once I got used to it.  Also, it means I can operate cheaper and not have to charge as much to the customer.  My agreements with my guys, which they sign, make it clear that I nor the homeowner are responsible for their safety and medical care should a problem arise and that all parties are relieved of any such obligation.  If you hire a contractor who follows this growing practice ask to see a copy of his sub-contractor agreement.

That being said, a legitimate contractor still has operating cost which vary by area and how they run their business.  I break even at $150/day not including labor and materials so I've got to charge more than that to make money.  To keep the math simple, if I'm paying $250 for a pne day job in labor plus another $300 in materials and $150 operating costs I've got to charge $700 to the customer to break even.  That's if I'm only doing one job a day which is why most of us manage several at a time.  The point I'm trying to make is that someone with the necessary knowledge and experience to build you a safe deck is not going to be cheap.  Knowledge accompanies success which costs money.

I've repaired or restructured several decks built by handymen who should find another profession.  Ask yourself this question when hiring someone for this project: Would I trust this person to build my house?  If the answer is no you need to find someone else.  The deck is just as important.  It's where your family, friends, kids are going to gather and interact.  If it isn't structurally sound it can collapse causing injury or even death.  One last word on decks: Always screw a deck together, don't nail it.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services
San Antonio, TX

Assuming you buy the right size door to fit the rough opening, and that your old door is not a size that is no longer made, and that you get the correct depth and transition adapters and sills and flashing and trim and seals and such, and that you transport it home without distorting and damaging it, then removal and disposal of old one and install new one probably about $250-400 depending on how well it fits, number of transition and similar pieces that have to be assembled (from 1 or 2 for some doors to as many as 30 on others).

The laundry list of things at the start WAS intended to intimidate you - I would say not 1 in 25 homeowners who buy a new patio door have bought it the right size for the rough opening and have everything needed to install it - the contractor almost invariably has to go get materials or parts to complete the installation - sometimes waiting weeks for factory adapters that are needed or missing parts AFTER the original door has already been taken out.

I would question why you are going to probably spend as much installing a door that may not do the job for you as the cost of the door. I would hazard at least half of people who go buy a $250-400 cheap door at a box store are sorely disappointed within months - due to poorly fitted parts, bad or non-existent seals causing drafts or water leaks, fogging or breaking glass, etc.

I would recommend you assess your needs, in conjunction with your installer find a decent and reputable brand unit to fit that need and that fits the loction right, and probably pay 50% more installed but have something that you might actually be happy with. Oh - BTW - your best installers generally will not install the cheapest box store units because they do not want the callbacks, so many times the quality of the installer who will actually do the job for you at a price you are willing to pay gives you a job that is - you guessed it, worth what you paid for it.


The product has evolved considerably since the lawsuit.


I would still do your own research and give you contractor your feedback.  At the end of the day, the cost for whatever board you want will be similar.