Why are composite/low-maintenance decks more expensive than wood?

Lexington SC TimberTech Deck Builder

The new TimberTech deck will provide years of low-maintenance enjoyment to these Lexington, SC, homeowners.

Are you thinking about redecking your existing deck or adding a new deck to your Columbia backyard this season?

If so, and depending on what stage of planning you are in, you might have already noticed the wide range of material choices on the market. These include the low-maintenance synthetic materials such as composite, vinyl and PVC. When comparing these to the traditional pressure-treated pine deck, some Central SC homeowners experience sticker shock when they see the difference in material costs for synthetic.

AZEK redeck on Lake Murray in Lexington, SC

These homeowners chose PVC decking in Brownstone, from the Harvest Collection by AZEK.

A common question that arises here at Archadeck of Central SC is, “Why are composite/low-maintenance decks more expensive than wood?” There are many factors that go into fully answering this question, so let us start from the beginning…

The 1st generation of composites:

In 1992, Trex® introduced the first low-maintenance decking. They called the decking “composite,” and it was composed of plastic and wood fibers. Composites began to gain favor in the marketplace because treating a wood deck can easily consume a full day, or more, every year, and we are increasingly jealous of our time. Other companies soon followed the lead and began to introduce more composite options. Over time, manufacturers began to add realistic wood details such as grain and texture to their composites to emulate the look of real wood.

Archadeck of Central SC composite redeckingThe 2nd generation:

AZEK® enters the picture, then called Procell.  This new synthetic material abandoned the wood fiber makeup of composite in favor of all PVC plastic. In addition to the improved appearance, AZEK’s best features were stain, scratch and mold resistance. Progress continued and soon other major players such as TimberTech and Fiberon came onto the scene.

In 2009, some of the synthetic decking manufacturers combined the benefits of traditional composites and solid PVC by engineering an attractive, hard PVC plastic cap over a composite core.  This low-maintenance decking material is called capstock, which offers the benefits of solid plastic decking at a lower cost.

Beautifully detailed deck in NE Columbia, SC.

Beautifully detailed low-maintenance deck in NE Columbia, SC.

With new advances, heightened technology and more realistic wood-like elements (like the addition of streaking that mimics wood graining), synthetic decking just keeps improving. Today’s synthetics offer a wealth of benefits over traditional wooden decking. These include increased longevity (25+ years), no need to stain or paint and minimal maintenance to keep the deck clean and looking good. In contrast, a professionally-built, well-maintained pressure-treated wooden deck can last 10-15 years tops. The frequency of the maintenance it requires may vary slightly based primarily on how much wear and direct sunlight the deck receives but it will require annual maintenance surpassing a soap-and-water cleanup.

Chapin SC Composite decks

Beautiful, low maintenance composite deck addition in Chapin, SC.

All these improvements and benefits explain why composite, vinyl and PVC decks are significantly more expensive than traditional wood decks. If you are on the fence about choosing a low-maintenance deck, sometimes a good litmus test is to evaluate this purchase decision based on how long you are going to be in your home. If you plan on being in your home for the next 20 years and like the idea of minimal maintenance, then any upfront increase in cost pays off fairly quickly. But, if you know you will only be in your home for another 5 years, you may want to choose a wood deck with the corresponding cons of annual maintenance.

Archadeck of Central SC three generations of quality outdoor structures

The Archadeck of Central SC team – Mike Reu, Marshall Reu and Tucker Reu.

Which is right for you? Let us help you decide. Our job is to walk you through the options not just for decking boards but for all the other options and considerations required in planning your new deck or porch. Give us a call for a free consultation to discuss planning and building a new outdoor space for your Columbia, SC, home.  You can reach us by phone at (803) 603-2160 or email us at centralsc@archadeck.net.

 

 

 

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