It’s no secret that here in the Pacific Northwest, the weather can be harsh and unpredictable. For homeowners, that means choosing the right materials for your home is an essential task. From roofing material and gutters, to siding and windows, there are hundreds of different choices to make, all of them coming with their own pros and cons. Today we want to give some insight to the choices available for decking, and why we think composite decking is the ideal material to use in the PNW.
When it comes down to it, there are really just two fundamental choices for deck materials; wood or composite. Now, there are many different kinds of wood, and many different kinds of composite, which we will break down in a future article. Right now what’s important to remember is that composite decks such as Trex are created from recycled materials, including various types of plastics as well as sawdust.
There are many pros and cons to both wood and composite, but we’d like to specifically focus on why we think composite is preferable. First of all, it should come as no surprise that composite decking is less prone to rot due to being made primarily from recycled plastic materials. And by less prone, we mean that it essentially never rots at all. For example, Trex boards come with a 25 year manufacturer warranty against any sort of defect in their boards, including rotting and splitting. However, you can likely expect your composite decking to last much longer than 25 years with minimal wear. There are some companies that have 50 year warranties. Additionally, the only maintenance that composite boards require is an occasional scrub or pressure washing to remove any debris or algae that may accumulate. In most cases, you will never have to replace a composite board. They stand up exceptionally to the harsh weather that we see in places like Washington state. Now let’s look at regular wood materials.
There are no wood materials that look as good after 25 years. In this region of the country, the large amounts of rain, leaves and other organic material that ends up on your wooden deck accelerates rot and wear. It’s not uncommon to have to replace boards within 5-10 years. To get your wooden deck to last as long as a composite deck, you will have to regularly stain or paint it, which can be costly and time-consuming. Even so, it’s likely that you will have to replace boards at some point. After 25 years, your deck will be faded. There will be some boards that will be newer and don’t match the other boards, giving it an awkward look unless you paint it. You’ll probably be considering just getting a new deck altogether. Compare this to composite. After 25 years, it will look almost identical to how it looked when it was first built. Over those 25 years, you never needed to stain it, sand it or replace any boards, and you won’t need to build a new one.
Yes, composite is more expensive than cedar, but we think the upfront investment of composite is worth sparing yourself the headache of maintaining your cedar deck. Additionally, there’s a good possibility you will be saving money in the long-term, due to essentially zero maintenance cost and not needing to build a new one after a few decades. Composite decks do come in natural wood colors, but we recognize there is a unique, authentic beauty to a real wooden deck. There are many people who prefer the look and feel of a natural wooden deck, and we can’t argue with that. However, if your priority is to build a long-lasting, durable deck and never have to concern yourself with maintenance and repairs, we strongly recommend composite decking.
-Written by Jeremiah Oropeza, Crew Lead, PHM