Wood vs. Composite

A deck is a long-term investment, as you'll be enjoying it for many years to come. It's important to understand your options and to make your choice of materials prior to the start of your project. Both wood & composite have their share of pros & cons, which we will detail below!



  • Decking consists of a type of plastic material, such as polyethylene or PVC, and wood particles.

  • Sustainable & environmentally friendly, as most manufacturers' boards are anywhere form 80-95% recycled material.

  • Pest resistant to termites & other wood-destroying insects.

  • Upkeep is virtually non-existent.

  • An annual cleaning with a brush + detergent, or just a light washing will help rid the surface of debris, pollen, or mildew.

  • Stain resistant and will not crack or splinter!

  • Dimensionally consistent, which can mean faster install & less waste.


  • Not completely indestructible, they can get gouged & some can fade, and depending on the installation - can warp.

  • Owners with pets or a high-traffic deck should ask for scratch-resistant lines of composite decking.

  • If your deck will be in a very sunny location, ask for UV protection!


  • Pros:

  • If taken care of properly, can also last a long time!

  • Cost per square foot will generally be less, but can depend on material.

  • Pressure treated is readily available, and cheapest of your wood options.

  • Cedar is usually available, but a bit more expensive.

  • Mahogany or Ipe is very hard & extremely durable. Also very heavy & ages well, but very expensive.


  • Upkeep is required; will need repeated washing, staining, & sealing.

  • A trick to know if your deck needs attention...sprinkle water on the wood:

  • if it absorbs quickly, it's time to stain/seal!

  • if it beads, you're probably ok to wait another year!

  • Will need to do maintenance about every 2-3 years or so, depending on your level of use, weather, and wood type.

  • Power washing can strip the wood, so do so carefully! Better cleaned with a soft bristle brush & detergent.

  • Will also likely need sanding - especially on wood railings.

  • As knots fall out, or boards splinter & crack, they'll need completely replaced.

  • Dimensionally inconsistent which can mean more waste & a longer install.

  • Not environmentally friendly; wood is being harvested faster & in larger quantities than ever. Trees are getting cut earlier, which also means less dense wood, which plays a role in it's structural integrity.

  • Natural wood products attract wood-destroying insects; you'll have to stay vigilant!


  • Opinions vary:

  • Some people just love the natural look of real wood.

  • Stain come in nearly any color if you want a combination of natural wood + a complementary color.

  • Great strides have been made in the world of composite decking. Each manufacturer now has a large variety of tones and textures, to make it look like real wood!

Bottom line: it's your choice! It depends on your personal taste, budget, and how much time & money you want to spend on maintenance over the lifetime of your deck.

Summit Outdoor Designs has built several decks, out of both materials, and we would be thrilled at the opportunity to work WITH you, to make your dream deck, a reality! Give us a call today for a free estimate!

(816) 524-8565

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