Choosing Low Maintenance Decking Over Wood Decking

You've heard the pros and cons for low maintenance decking but exactly why it is considered superior to wood often remains unclear. Your typical wood deck can't be compared to its counterpart. Composite decking is everything wood decking can't be and here's why.

 

Chemically Treated

70 years ago, Dr. Karl Wolman invented the process of infusing preservatives into wood products. Initially when pressure treated wood hit the market the chemicals used were considered very toxic. As of late a more gentle preservative is being used. Amine copper quat and copper azole are presently used to pressure treat wood. These are mostly considered safer because of the human body's inability to absorb these poisons. Will the chemicals be less hazardous in the long run is any body's guess. These new chemicals are less toxic but also less effective in preserving the wood. The bulk of wood used in a decking application is pressure treated. This chemical process forces a chemical cocktail into the wood in an effort to preserve and protect it. In the past, all pressure treated wood had a green hue to it. However now, brown is the new green and made to look more like cedar. When exposed to moisture and extreme temperatures both can become volatile even though these chemicals make this pine wood resistant to rot and insects.

While pressure-treated wood remains a good choice for many applications, the beating that decks endure because of its exposure makes it a poor choice for any horizontal project. No chemical treatment stands a chance against the harsh conditions of a Canadian winter.

Reduced Life Expectancy

Your typical wood deck will stop looking it's best the year it is installed. After five years, splinters will become a common experience, and after 10 years cracks are likely to occur. After 15 years you will find yourself with a rotting deck and the need to replace at least the surface. There are a number of factors that will affect the lifespan of your deck.

  • Proximity to the ground: The closer to the ground, the closer to moisture your deck will be and once moisture penetrates the wood, it's a losing battle.
  • Coating: If you spend time and money every year staining and restraining, sanding, and painting you may increase the lifespan of your wood deck.
  • The quality of the wood: Speak to your lumber supply company about the quality of wood they can provide. All wood decks are not created equal.
  • Location: Just like us, your deck does not like extreme conditions. Heat, moisture, and frost will all get into your typical wood deck eventually. Besides the unlikely event of a fire, the weather will no doubt be the cause of your wood decks demise.

Costly

A new deck is an investment into your home. It will no doubt increase the square footage of you living space. Having to replace that square footage will be costly and if you choose a wood deck, a replacement will most certainly be in your future. While some exotic woods are comparable to low maintenance decking in initial cost, their life expectancy remains lower. A low-quality pressure treated wood will need replacing, on average, after 15 years.

While the upfront cost of a wood deck can be considerably less, you can double that price tag with the cost of maintenance and replacement. Like many things in life, you get what you pay for.

High Maintenance

If you don't mind spending a good percentage of your already short summer doing hard labour, then a wood deck is for you. Many homeowners looking to purchase a new deck, opt in for low maintenance decking for this reason alone. A wood deck will need TLC for the entirety of its life. Costing you money and your precious time. Because of the porous nature of wood, moisture will be your enemy. Sanding will become a common practice and if you've chosen to stain or paint your wood deck, reapplication is in your future. All this maintenance will have you working on your deck for a good chunk of the warmer months, when you should be on your deck, enjoying it.

Liability

Many times a wood deck has been considered something that needs removing by prospective buyers. The decking industry has been revolutionized by low maintenance decking and the standard for decking has reached a new level. A wood deck that is in disrepair can be considered worse than having no deck at all. The cost of removing a wood deck can serve as a deterrent to homebuyers and can be a liability to you as a homeowner when it comes time to sell. Just as a great deck can increase your property value and saleability, a deck in disrepair can decrease the market value of your home.

Consider the length of time you plan to be in your home. Anything less than five years may call for less of an investment. The wood deck does have a place in the decking industry but you don't want any home improvement that will have to be done twice. The bigger price tag to install a low maintenance deck now will almost always pay off in the future.

Hickory Dickory Decks is the leader in composite and low maintenance decking. So if you're ready to install an attractive, low maintenance dream deck for your home, contact us today and our deck professionals will get you started.

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