What are the pros and cons of composite decking?

pic of a Composite deck built in fort collins, co

More and more homeowners are looking for durable ways to improve their homes. Many want to increase the value of their property by installing decking. The most common version is the traditional wooden decking. However, an increased amount of people is interested in more durable variants, such as composite decks.

Composite decking is gaining rapid popularity. They have greater durability and are easy to clean. They have a longer life span than traditional wooden decks as they are resistant to mold, insect damage, and the elements. Composite decking is more expensive but definitely worth the money.

In this article, I will take you through all the advantages and disadvantages of this durable version of decking. I have no doubt that after reading this article, you will have all the necessary information you need to make a well-considered decision.

What are the advantages of composite decking?

If you are a homeowner who’s looking to improve their home with a durable deck, you might wonder, what are the advantages of composite decking? I listed the most relevant advantages down below. 

  • Less maintenance

Nowadays, people are always busy. They are working around the clock and want to spend the time they have left with their loved ones. Therefore, it is extremely valuable to have decking that requires as little maintenance as possible. No wonder that this is one of the biggest advantages when it comes to composite decking.

As wooden decking is very prone to mold and rot, it needs lots of maintenance. On the contrary, composite decking is very resistant to rot and is therefore easy to maintain. The material doesn’t require repainting or resealing. However, it is good to regularly clean the composite deck. This can easily be done with water and soap. 

  • Durability & Lifespan

We want every part of our house to be as durable as possible. Therefore, composite decking is an excellent choice. To put it easy, the material is a mix of wood and plastic. As this material is resistant to rot, it is an extremely durable option. Its lifespan is also a lot longer compared to the wooden variant. Where traditional wooden decking can last up to 15 years (with proper maintenance), composite decks can last up to 30 years. This is double the lifespan!

Composite decking does not fade or stain, which makes it the most comfortable option for families with kids and pets.

  • Slip-resistant

We all know these winter mornings, where we have to be extremely careful when going outside due to the danger of slipping. When having little kids, composite decking is the perfect solution. You don’t have to worry that anyone might slip, as most composite decks are slip-resistant. 

  • Resistance to weather conditions


The traditional wooden decks can get discolored and weakened by extreme weather conditions. Composite decking withstands these circumstances better and causes your decking to have a longer life span. You no longer have to worry about frost, rain, or extremely high temperatures. Your composite deck will survive it all! 

What are the disadvantages of composite decking?

In order to make a well-considered choice, you should also be familiar with the possible disadvantages of your purchase. So, what exactly are the disadvantages of composite decking? Below I listed the disadvantages you should be aware of.

  • Price

Something that might be seen as a disadvantage of composite decking is its price. As it is approximately double the price of a traditional wooden decking. However, considering the fact that it has double the life span, we could conclude that it is definitely worth the investment. Besides that, considering all the costs you save on maintenance, a composite deck ends up paying for itself over the years. Also, a good quality composite deck can even increase the value of your house, as the next homeowners will be able to use it for many years more.

  • It’s not natural

Another disadvantage that some people might mention, is the fact that the materials used for composite deck boards are not natural. Therefore, some people have the opinion that they lack the natural look and color. However, for most people composite decking is famous for its striking resemblance to natural wood. I guess we could say that it is a matter of personal preference and taste.

  • Scratches

Composite decking is made of a combination of plastic and wood. This blend increases the life span of the deck. However, it is good to remember that the material is not indestructible. There is still a risk of scratches when replacing outdoor furniture. Handle your deck with great care, to enjoy it for a long time.

What is composite decking made of?

As mentioned before, the two primary ingredients of composite decking are wood and plastic. The materials have often been sourced from recycled materials. Therefore, it is an eco-friendly choice. The blend of these two materials provides more stability and better performance.

TimberTech

A well-known company providing composite decking is TimberTech. Their deck boards are made of 80 % recycled materials. The core is a blend of wood fibers and composite material coated in a protective cap. The materials used, result in decking with all the beautiful features of natural wood, but without the risk of mold, insect damage, and maintenance costs. The deck boards won’t rot or weather, as the traditional wooden version tends to do. 

Read more about the advantages of TimberTech composite decking

Does composite decking get hot?

Many people are afraid that composite decking is more sensitive to temperature than wood, and therefore gets hotter. So, the question is, does composite decking get hot? 

Like any surface that is exposed to direct sunlight, composite decking might get hot. However, while the early composite decks were very sensitive to high temperatures, the newer versions are much more resistant to heat. Good quality, modern composite decking won’t become any hotter than the traditional wooden boards.

If it’s important for you that the deck remains as cool as possible, it is wise to choose a light color of decking boards. As with any other product, black attracts more heat than white. Therefore, it is wise to choose a light color of composite decking, as this will reduce the temperature during summer. 

Is composite decking worth it?

If you are thinking about installing composite decking, you might wonder if it is worth the cost. We understand that you don’t want to be spending a lot of money on something that might not be worth it. As you are going to spend almost double the price of a traditional wooden decking, it is understandable that you want to make sure that it is worth the investment.

Taking all of the above pros and cons into consideration, we can conclude that composite decking is definitely worth its price. After all, in this case, double the cost means double the life span. So, you are not actually spending more money. As mentioned above, with all the money you save on maintenance, the deck actually pays for itself! Besides that, many disadvantages are not valid anymore due to new designs and techniques. 

We would definitely recommend composite decking, as it is the best way to improve your house in a durable way. To learn more about our deck construction services click here. If you live in the Northern Colorado, area give us a call today at 970-663-2868 to talk to someone about your next outdoor project.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Wood Deck With Composite?

A deck on a home has many advantages and can add value to a home in so many ways! The traditional material used for decking is wood, but this material is high maintenance. Wood is beautiful as a decking material but needs constant care, which often puts homeowners off from making the decision to add a deck to their home. The alternative to wood is using composite material for decking. It has many advantages over wood and may allow you to improve your home with a low maintenance deck.

Replacing the wood on your deck with composite material will cost you between $15 to $25 per square foot. There may be other factors that can add to the replacement cost, such as the type of composite you choose, the shape of the deck, the amount of labor required, and the time of year.

Adding a deck to a home expands your living and entertaining area. It makes the house seem larger and gives you a place to enjoy the great outdoors with all the comforts of home within arm’s reach. One of the factors that you may be concerned about when considering installing a deck is the cost.

Why Composite Decking?

Houses across the US have been constructed from wood for hundreds of years, and likewise, decks have been made from the same material. This has been the material of choice because it is readily available and relatively cheap.

Wood, as a decking material, is exposed to the elements continuously. Sun, wind, rain, snow, freezing temperatures all take their toll on natural materials like wood, especially in our high altitude in CO. As a result, significant time needs to be spent on maintenance and repairs to keep your wood deck in great shape. This requires not only a time investment but also the costs for the wood treatments.

For some homeowners, the beauty of natural wood is worth the maintenance effort and time. Still, for others who may not be DIY inclined or just want a deck that requires less maintenance, there are alternative options.

A composite material is an answer to many of these concerns for the homeowner who wants to install a low maintenance deck.

Composite material is manufactured from a mixture of wood fibers, plastics, and adhesives to hold it all together. Composite material has several advantages over wood, particularly in harsh climates where temperature fluctuations and high humidity are detrimental to wood.

  • Composite material looks like wood and has the same workability as wood.
  • Composite material is less likely to delaminate or split, which means less wastage.
  • There is no need to sand, stain, paint, or varnish composite material. It comes finished from the manufacturer.
  • It is more water-resistant than wood.
  • Requires less maintenance than wood.
  • It does not fade as rapidly as wood.
  • Insect resistance. Insects such as termites don’t eat this material.
  • Easy installation with interlocking systems.

Wood is still a popular material, but here at TNT Home Improvements, we have noticed a growing popularity for decks made from composite material.

But let’s get onto the reason you came here in the first place. How much financial commitment is it going to take to replace your wood deck with composite material?

The Cost Of Composite Decking

Suppose you are looking to replace your wood decking with composite material. In that case, we are assuming that the substructure that supports the deck is already in place and is in good condition.

The substructure consists of the beams, posts, and joists that support the actual surface decking boards. They provide stability for the entire deck structure. It is therefore important that the substructure is in good condition.

If you are not sure whether the substructure is sound or not, that is where TNT Home Improvements can help. We have a certified engineer on staff who can advise you on the structural soundness of the substructure.

When you choose your composite decking, you need to be aware that not all composites cost the same. Composite decking ranges in quality from entry-level decking, costing you approximately $15 per square foot to install. Versus the premium composite products, which will run you in the region of $20 – $28 per square foot to install.

On average, you can use a middle of the road estimate of $18 to $22 per square foot to replace the wood deck with composite material.

There are a couple of pricing aspects that you will need to bear in mind when replacing your wood decking with composite material.

  • Size of the deck. Obviously, the larger the deck, the more it will cost.
  • Angles, corners, and shapes. The more angles and non-rectangular shapes you have in your deck, the more cutting will be required. This can quickly hike the price of the labor bill.
  • Removal of old Decking. Remember to factor in the labor cost of removing the old decking. Unless you are doing this part of the job yourself, it will incur a labor cost from the new decking installer.
  • Railings. Many people forget to include the cost of the railings when they work out the pricing to replace their decking material.
  • Extra fittings. Suppose you have a hot tub or built-in lighting. In that case, you may require the services of a plumber and electrician to re-route or refit the plumbing and electrical wiring.
  • Timing of the replacement. Suppose you decide to replace your deck surface at a time of year when everyone has the same idea. In that case, the labor costs can increase as well as the cost of the material if it is in high demand. Springtime is when most people decide to tackle this task, so it is at this time that it is most expensive to get this project done, it’s also going to have the longest wait time to get permits and get materials delivered.

If you need work done on the substructure to support the deck, you should add another $5 to $15 per square foot to cater to the additional costs.

Cost Summary

To give a summary of the costs you can expect, let’s gather all this information into one place to provide you with a ballpark idea.

  • Replace decking – $15 to $25 per square foot.
  • Labor costs – You can work on an average labor cost of $50 per hour, and to give you an idea, a 12-foot by 24-foot deck should take about 35 hours to install from the ground up.
  • Railings. Depending on the type of materials you choose for deck railing, you can work on an average of $45 per linear foot for wood or $85 for composite.
  • Substructure. If you need some modifications or repairs done to the supporting structure, add about $5-$15 per square foot to the cost, depending on the scope of the repairs needed.

These are estimated costs that do not consider any specific requirements that you may have for your deck. The only way you will get a precise estimate would be to get a professional to come out to examine your deck. Here at TNT, we offer free consultations, so do not hesitate to give us a call at 970-663-2868 to talk to someone about your deck project.

Professional installers know what to look for in the way of potential unknown costs that you may not contemplate as a possible cost factor.

Even though composite decking is more durable and long-lasting, you may want to factor a few extra boards into the purchase cost. Consider if your composite deck sustains any damage such as chips, nicks, gouges, or surface scratches that it cannot be sanded down and refinished. The board will probably need replacing.

Ordering a few extra boards in the same style and color will help ensure that you can match the boards should you need to replace a few over time.

Conclusion

Composite decking can be slightly more expensive than installing a decking surface made from pressed wood or cedarwood. Still, the composite material’s longevity and its reduced maintenance requirements will make for a cheaper cost in the long term. By the time you pay someone to stain your deck the first two years, you’re about even with an entry level composite, and you’ll be saving time and money every single year after that!

TNT Home Improvements can assist you with all your decking needs, from wood decks to composite decks. We can install decking for private residences and business applications.

We operate in the Loveland area in Colorado, which includes Fort Collins, Greeley, Windsor, Campion, Berthoud, and Johnstown, CO, as well as Larimer, Jackson, Boulder, and Weld Counties, CO. 

We are more than willing to answer questions, address any concerns, and offer advice regarding your deck, whatever material it is made from.

Give us a call at 970-663-2868 or email us at sales@tnthomeimprovements.com. If you want to research more about our deck building services click here.