Going Composite on Your Deck is Worth It
As I travel back and forth across the country speaking at home shows, I keep asking the audience, “How many people have decks in their backyards?” I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that a majority of people have decks. Then I ask, “How many people have composite or manmade decks?” This number drops drastically. And the most common reason why? Composite decks are more expensive. Or are they?
Wood vs. Composite Deck
When I deal with customers who want to have a deck installed in the back of their homes, I always want to know how long they plan to be in the house. In Canada, the average wood deck lasts between seven and nine years without care or maintenance. Much of this has to do with the age of the wood. The boards you are purchasing today are significantly younger than boards you may have purchased 20 years ago, solely based on the forestry industry and the reforestation programs. Younger wood is not as dense or as developed, so wind, rain, sun, snow and salt all break down the fibres significantly faster.
A big trendsetter for wood decks is MicroPro Sienna. This brown version of the green pressure treated wood is so much more than its earlier predecessor. New technology allows the preservative to be ground significantly finer, allowing it to get deeper into the wood grains and creating a better barrier against rot and insect damage. I’ve found that on average, a properly treated deck will last around 10 years with a good sealer being applied every few years on top of the treated wood.
If you are planning to stay in your home longer than 10 years, you might want to consider spending the money up front to get a product that lasts longer, specifically manmade deck boards. Why? You may actually have to resurface your wood deck at least once while you are in the home. Even if you can stretch its life with lots of work and a good stain, an old deck can actually hurt your home’s value because potential buyers look at it as something they will have to replace.
The Numbers on Composite Decks
While a manmade deck might be more expensive, they are often guaranteed for 25 years, with minimal care or maintenance required on your part.
According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2017 report, composite decks have a return on investment of 54.9 per cent. That may not sound high to you, but consider that this is for the life of the deck. Why is this important? You can use your composite deck for the next 20-plus years, neglect it, and sell your home to someone who will pay you almost half of the original cost. The same can’t be said for a wood deck.
Composites are made from recycled materials. Trex has posted some pretty impressive numbers when it comes to their recycling initiatives. More than 1.5 billion plastic grocery bags and more than 300,000 tons of recycled plastic go into Trex — and not a single tree.
The cost to hire me to install a wood deck in your backyard will be between $15 and $25 per square foot based on the space. My cedar price is about $30 per square foot. Composite comes in at $35 dollars, but unlike the other two materials, composite pricing has dropped significantly over the last three years because of more competition in the marketplace.
So yes, composite is more expensive, but if you are looking for an outdoor solution that holds its value, requires no work on your part and comes with a 25-year guarantee, maybe it’s worth the investment!
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