The minute you start looking for the right type of wood for your deck, you will certainly come across a suggestion to use plastic or composite materials instead. But are they a true replacement for hard or soft wood deck construction? Here a few points for you to consider.
Very generally speaking, composites and plastics have a higher initial cost than the most common woods. The truth is, whether plastic, wood, or composite, the price can vary greatly. And as with all construction materials, quality usually costs more. So if you leave the pricing alone for now, you can evaluate these materials on other criteria.
Costs of Maintenance
Costs and initial price are two different things. In this particular case, composites and plastics have far lower maintenance costs than most woods. Keep in mind that composites and plastics are less prone to splintering, warping, or cracking. They don't require finishing, staining, or sanding.
Wood, on the other hand, may require any or all of these things. However, there are tropical hardwoods that come close to being as maintenance-free as composites and plastics.
Strength and Durability
With maintenance, wood will stand the test of time. It's stronger than plastics and composites and will endure most any condition. The important point is that you have to help it along. You need to seal wood every so often and make sure it's healthy.
By comparison, composites and plastics are weaker. They need more support and will deteriorate over time. This is especially true of composites as they have wood in them. But it's wood that you cannot really maintain in any significant way. In fact, some composites and plastics still require wood support structures to prevent them from sagging or breaking over time.
The Look and Feel
There's a definite difference between the warm, natural feel of wood, and the cold feel of plastics and composites. This may not seem like much of a concern to some, but it can make all the difference to others.
There's also the look. You can do a lot with composites and plastics to customize them. But once you have it, there's not much you can do to modify it. Some allow for staining but not all. In addition, composites and plastics can fade over time, and there's not much you can do about it.
Wood gives you options. You can sand it, refinish it, stain it a different color, round out the edges, whatever you want. Also, wood has the advantage of being wood. Sounds a little silly, but wood holds a certain undefinable mystique that people love. It comes with a look and feel that's unique.
Making the Choice
In the end, the choice is up to you. But as you can see, there are still many reasons to go for wood decking materials. Composites and plastics have seen tremendous market growth, but they haven't replaced wood.
Pressure treated pine and cedar lumber are still highly popular and economical. All this means for you is that you have more choices at your disposal. No matter what choice you make, be sure to source your lumber from a reputable lumber supplier (such as Rocky Mountain Forest Products).