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Pros and Cons of Composite Decks - Quicken Loans Zing BlogI have to say my favorite part of my parents’ house is the deck. It’s the perfect place to spend warm summer days. We’d often sit out there from early afternoon until late into the evening watching the sun go down over the lake.

While I have plenty of good memories of time spent on the deck, I also have my fair share of bad ones. Since it’s made of wood, I remember spending an entire weekend power washing the gunk off of it, then spending the following weekend covering it with water sealant. Let’s also not forget all those painful splinters. Oh, wood deck, how I loathed you some days.

If lots of maintenance and splinters don’t sound like your cup of tea, what other options do you have?

My parents have talked for years about replacing their wood deck with a composite deck. Many of you out there might be in the same spot and wonder if this type of deck will work for you, so let’s take a closer look at them.

What Are Composite Decks?

Here’s a quick rundown on composite decks. Most are made from recycled wood scraps and plastic ­– making them pretty eco-friendly. They come in a variety of earth-tones and wood colors to match your outdoor decor. Many manufacturers also add fake wood grains, either in the coloring or the mold in which the planks are formed.

Composite decks come in a plank form, similar to traditional treated wood planks. You also have the option now to buy composite deck tiles. If you don’t want to completely replace your existing wood deck, you can use these tiles to cover the entire area. Home Depot boasts that they snap together and only take a few minutes to install.

What Are the Benefits of Composite Decks?

Aside from no more gross splinters, here are a few other benefits of owning composite decks:

  • Less maintenance than wood decks
  • Most use recycled materials
  • Durable
  • Long lasting
  • Won’t rot away

Personally, I like that composite decking uses recycled materials. Tree Hugger says, “Trex claims that much of its plastic comes from 1.5 billion plastic shopping bags, or about 7 out of every 10 in the US. They also don’t use any virgin wood, using mill waste and old pallets instead.”

The fact that composite decking needs far less maintenance is also appealing. A good scrub in the spring will help keep it clean and free of mold. No more dangerous chemicals that can harm the environment!

What Are the Drawbacks of Composite Decks?

These are all great and wonderful things, but, as with most things in life, there are a few downsides.

One of the drawbacks to purchasing a composite deck system is that they’re not cheap. Popular Mechanics notes that this type of decking generally costs between $2.50 and $3.50 per linear foot. In contrast, Decks.com notes treated lumber decks cost on average $0.75–$1.25 per linear foot.

While composite decks won’t rot and are considered more durable than wood, it doesn’t mean they’re completely safe from damage. Patio furniture or debris from a passing storm may scratch the surface. Unlike wood, which you can sand and refinish, composite decking can’t be refinished. Your only option is to shell out a few bucks to replace the damaged plank completely.

Fading seems to be another complaint with composite deck owners. Garden Structure says, “The color fades and cleaning with the harsh chemicals they recommend leaves the decking chalky and porous.” They add that some manufactures have released coatings, which may remedy this problem.

If spending a little less money and doing some regular maintenance sounds okay to you, stick with the old-fashioned wood decking. Go for the composite deck if you don’t mind spending a bit more money for a deck that requires far less maintenance and is eco-friendly.

Do you have a composite deck? What do you like or dislike about it? Share your thoughts with other Zing readers below!

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. IVery helpful comments especially on Trex or materials like it. My deck will be replaced due to hail damage, says the insurance
    adjuster. My deck faces south and west so chances of it getting really hot are 100%. I live in the southwest.

  2. I have a monster two story deck off the main level of the house and around the pool. Oh, yes and a baloney deck off the second story master bedroom. We brought the house almost 3 1/2 yrs ago what was I thinking. But, we liked the house and location and needed the 22 acres for our horses and Nostalgia Race cars. Nice big barn and some fencing for pastures. We had to put new siding and roof on the house, finish lots of fencing, build a work race car garage and driveways to the garage. So, installing new decks is not in the budget. The Composite deck didn’t look too bad and like I said location and acreage were important. This composite material is horrible. It is hot to walk on and we get lots of sun and heat behind our house. Great for pool swimming but not for walking on this composite material deck. It also looks nasty, it has faded, stained, scratched, etc. My grandson and I clean it every Season we are very careful not to blast it with the power washer. I think that was done by pervious owners. We have just used the garden hose the last two seasons. It has places it is warping and seems weak. Our property is back in the hills of Carroll County, MD which we love. Our house is built on the high point of the property. The back of our house sloops down. Which is great for drainage. Puts the back of our house 3 stories high, hence the multiple decks. I would get rid of this composite junk if I could figure how to not have decks. I would have all hard scapes for sure. Not sure how it would work and no way could I afford to do if even possible. I had a new front porch put on the house with stamped concert. Loving it. And, talk about no maintenance just a hose and broom. Would I use composite material decking? NO WAY. But, I am stuck with this junk. What to do???????

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I’m sorry the deck hasn’t worked out, but it sounds like a beautiful home!

  3. Amatuer here, but have put in and maintained a couple decks. Had a old wood deck at a vacation home that was in bad shape, but sanding and using Rust-Oleum Restore brought it back nicely. Put in a composite deck at my mom’s and hated it – first it fades, not that much but the decking faded faster than the railing, and the rail end caps even less. Dog nails leave scratches, as will clumsy adults and kids, not to mention unremovable stains and sneaky mold. Oh, and if you want to replace a stained/scratched/damaged deck board it won’t match cause the others faded, remember? Upgraded that vacation home and had to replace the old deck due to code problems and didn’t think twice, wood it was! Used CedarTone Premium treated #1 southern yellow pine and won’t even have to stain it for a couple years, looks great with a custom sunburst rail pattern.

  4. Composite decking is a procedure in home making that requires building decks utilizing reused materials. These materials include a blend of environment amicable materials like plastic, strands and wood.

    Composite decking can be separated into wood and non-wood composites. While a few composites are made with a blend of plastics, hardwood pieces and different materials, the rest contain vinyl and plastics.

  5. Composite decks are durable and don’t require as much maintenance as wooden decks, but they can be really slippery and heavy rains and cold weather can damage them beyond repair. On the other hand, decking installation is easier with composite decking and you can do it yourself. I’ve tried both types, but my heart goes with wooden decks – there’s nothing like a freshly stained wooden deck.

  6. We just had a composite deck put in the last part of June and we are now in the first week of August. Two things I have noticed right away is that the deck is extremely hot, it has not been above 90 degrees yet if you walk barefoot on our deck you are running for your shoes or the nearest shady spot. Problem 2 is that we can not get our deck clean. We still have foot prints from our dog and the contractor when they first installed it. I have personally scrubbed it by hand for 45 mins and have had it power washed too and still they are there! My husband also has hosed it off multiple times and we have had many major gully washers and still once the deck is dry you can see all the foot prints. So annoying! I have called Tex customer service line and now she is asking what PSI the power washer was? Why? It states you can simply hose it off, now I am in the process of having to take pictures to document foot prints!

  7. Thanks Krissy for the helpful insight on the composite deck! I have not made a decision yet, but blog was really helpful!

  8. I have a composite deck at my house and I love having it! It’s been a few years since it was installed, but it still looks great even with all of the low maintenance that it’s had to have. I have to admit that I was skeptical at first, but TimberTech was very helpful at answering all of the questions that they have. I recently saw that their website had it’s own question and answering page on their site. I’m just glad that the composite decking companies are willing to help out because I know that that was the decision maker for me.

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