The Benefits of Cedar Wood Decking vs Composite Decking

When you compare Cedar Wood decking vs Composite decking, the best choice is clear!

Natural Wood Decking will always be a better option for most people, in most situations. There are some times when a composite deck will work better but these are rare situations. The clear choice for most people is a Western Red Cedar, Alaskan Yellow Cedar and/or Port Orford Cedar decking material.

Most people don’t realize that cost, quality and maintenance are all part of the deal when it comes to decking. In fact, any type of home improvement is all about weighing benefits, like time versus money or long-term value versus short-term needs. One debate that many homeowners encounter, specifically when exploring decking options, is whether to choose natural wood or composite materials. 

As you plan your dream deck, one of the key choices you face is what type of decking to use. Two of the most common options are wood and wood-plastic composites.

Both wood and composite materials are available in a range of qualities, so cost or quality is not the only factor. It’s commonly known that composite materials require less maintenance, hence, their cost is usually higher. But they do require some maintenance, and other factors come into play as well.

Whether you plan to do the job yourself or hire a contractor, this blog post discusses factors to consider when comparing wood vs. composite decking. 

To decide which one suits better for you and your home you will need to consider four things;

  • How much maintenance and repair you will be willing to do in the future
  • The life span of the different materials
  • Your deck’s appearance
  • The cost of the different types of deck material

One of the many benefits of working with natural wood is its lower upfront cost. You can install a natural wood deck for less money than you’d spend on the alternative – a great incentive for taking the natural route. AND Cedar is one of the best decking materials around due to it being naturally rot and insect repellant, is beautiful and bright and can be stained very easily, plus it’s easy to work with and can last 30+ years. 

Another factor to consider is maintenance. When it comes to repairs, wood decks age naturally and can be sanded, stained and replaced if necessary. Composite decks are not as likely to crack or splinter but can fade and warp. They also have a tendency to scratch and stain. When it comes to repairs, composite decks you can ONLY replace the scratched, warped, or faded pieces. Composite decking also expands and contracts more than natural wood as the temperature shifts.  

When you’re going through your pro’s and con’s list, appearance is also a very important factor to consider. Wood is naturally beautiful, period. Although composite materials mimic real wood, there is no replacement for the look, feel and smell of real wood.

With wood, in particular Cedar wood, your options are endless. That’s because Real Cedar comes in a variety of grades and profiles so you can create almost any desired look. It’s also easy to work with – It’s light, cuts easily, lays flat and stays straight. This allows you to create interesting visual points of interest such as herringbone patterns.

Weathered Western Red Cedar Decking in The Hamptons

There’s a reason plastic composite decking companies try so hard to make their products look like real cedar, but nothing beats the strength and beauty of a natural wood deck. If you want the natural look, go with a weather-resistant wood such as cedar which will age beautifully as you can see in the photo above. These types of decks have a beautiful look-and-feel and resist warping, cracking, or other weather damage.

Composites come in hollow boards or solid boards. The hollow composite deck boards are more cost effective, but they are not as sturdy and can hold water, which may lead to warping. The solid composite deck boards, which look a little more like real wood, are sturdier, however, they tend to expand and contract, which can lead to cracking. Another factor to consider is that when composite decking is exposed to sunlight, it gets hot for little feet and paws and they can be easily burned.  

Composite decking is harder to keep clean as it may become stained from things such as a grill or water shoes. Composite deck materials are made to look like wood and vary less in appearance than natural wood. It is not stainable and if it fades it will need to be replaced rather than stained.

Natural wood decks are more attractive and can add a lot of value to your property. This decking material can also easily be transformed by sanding it and applying a coat of stain. There are many wood stain options to choose from and wood can be re-stained when the color starts to fade, rather than having to be replaced. 

Think about versatility and keeping your home up to date. Since composites are manufactured, the appearance isn’t easily (or cheaply) changed. If you want to expand your composite deck, you’ll first need to make sure the shade of your original composite deck is still produced. At which point, you could be left with the choice to have your addition not match the rest of your deck or, worse, start over completely. 

Considering the speed at which styles change, this versatility allows you to keep your deck from looking outdated. If you choose to expand your wood deck or add a shade structure, simply purchase the same wood species and your addition will look seamless.

A hugely important factor to be mindful of as well is the effects that any building materials have on the environment. Wood is a natural, renewable resource, and therefore, biodegradable.

Wood decks store carbon throughout their lives, making for a much lower carbon footprint. Unlike real wood, composites end up in landfills. Composite decking is typically made from a combination of different synthetic materials that are processed to give the appearance of wood.

Considering decks are recreational, we feel responsible for choosing a source material that doesn’t just have minimal impact on nature, but will eventually return to it as compost. While many people purchase a composite deck because they think it requires zero maintenance, that isn’t quite true. Any structure exposed to the elements will require some maintenance. 

Here at Bear Creek Lumber we pride ourselves on sourcing ethical, high quality materials for you to use for any project that may come your way. We have a team of friendly people here that are ready and excited to answer your questions and find you the right wood for any projects you have on the table! 

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