With all the recent focus on composite materials in the outdoor decking industry, it’s natural to wonder whether traditional wood decks are a thing of the past. There are so many different types of composite material these days, and it’s possible to mimic any look or texture you care to mention. In other words, composite decking now offers a great many aesthetic choices for homeowners concerned about curb appeal and general attractiveness for their outdoor decks.
At the same time, you have all the fantastic practical benefits of composite materials. Namely, your maintenance requirements are virtually eliminated. You can forget about the complicated staining and sealing processes that come with having a natural hardwood deck. Since the material is a mix of plastic and wood fibers, it’s essentially impervious to the elements, and can last several years longer than hardwood with less maintenance.
With such a great case to be made for composite, is it fair to say that hardwood decks will soon become a thing of the past?
We’ve been in the industry a long time, and we don’t think so. That’s because natural hardwood still offers the unique charm of being a totally natural material — and when it comes to home renovations and additions, natural materials will never go completely out of style. Tile is another great example. It’s not possible to install tile floors that look exactly like hardwood or natural stone, at a fraction of the cost and with much easier maintenance requirements. But the market for traditional hardwood and stone floors remains strong, and according to some data is actually increasing.
Composite decking is a similar phenomenon. It has certainly become a lot more popular in recent years, and will continue to expand its presence in the outdoor deck market. However, it will never entirely eclipse natural hardwood or render it obsolete. There are simply too many people out there who appreciate natural materials and prefer to build their decks that way.
It’s also worth mentioning that the initial costs of composite decking are greater than the costs of natural hardwood — assuming you’re not using one of the rare and expensive hardwoods. People are attracted to the lower initial price point, even if they have to give up some points on durability and maintenance.
The occasional staining and sealing required for hardwood decks is also a minor thing for a lot of deck owners. In fact, a lot of people actually enjoy the process of occasional maintenance work to refresh and renew the appearance of their hardwood deck.
Deciding on your next outdoor deck?
There are clearly advantages to both composite and natural hardwood decks, and we think both will be around for a long time to come. Deciding which one is right for you can be tricky if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, or what benefits matter most to you. Finding a reputable outdoor deck specialist who has deep experience with both types of decking can be invaluable as you prepare to make your choice.