Many homeowners struggle to justify the cost of composite decking. Installing a high-quality composite deck will undoubtedly cost more than building with typical pressure-treated lumber, which costs between $1.00 and $2.00 per linear foot. However, comparing material and installation prices alone does not provide the complete picture.
The average deck size is approximately 400 square feet. If we assume a 20′ x 20′ deck, the ballpark estimate for pressure-treated wood is roughly $3,000, whereas the same deck made with a high-quality composite material may cost over $5,6001.
However, with just two to three years of routine maintenance, the cost gap is easily eliminated. While no one likes to pay more than they have to, there are various additional factors that contribute to the overall cost of acquiring any product. It is in these “hidden costs” that purchasing a more expensive — but higher quality — item begins to make sense.
Take the Long View
So, why would someone spend more money on composite decking when they can achieve the same result with pressure-treated wood for far less? It basically boils down to two factors: evaluating the long-term value (LTV) and total cost of ownership (TCO) of both products. Essentially, LTV and TCO calculate the total amount of time and money that a person will spend on something while owning it. The same techniques can be used to compare the cost of composite decking against pressure-treated wood.
The initial cost of installing a pressure-treated wood deck will be lower. However, in order to maintain the wood deck appearing and operating as intended, it will require ongoing attention and upkeep. There is a cost to doing all of that labour, whether you do it yourself or hire someone.
Wood Deck Sealing Costs
Moisture can harm any type of lumber, including preservative-treated wood. Because wood is an organic substance, it is naturally absorbent, which means that water can not only stick to a wood surface but also soak through it. This can result in a variety of issues, from surface mold and mildew growth to structural deterioration.
To avoid this, wooden decking should be coated with paint or stain every few years. This costs money in terms of material expenses as well as the time and labor required for the homeowner to complete the task themselves or hire a contractor to do so.
According to industry statistics, the average homeowner spends $761 per year on professional deck care (sanding, preparing, and staining). Most households spend between $594 and $849 annually.
Of course, the DIY homeowner can rent the tools, cleaners, stains, and sealants and do the project on his or her own. But keep in mind that, while the materials may be less expensive, sealing a wood deck is a labor-intensive process that can take up to two full days to accomplish.
As you can see, after just two to three years, the added cost of maintaining a seemingly less expensive pressure-treated wood deck begins to outweigh the cost of a high-quality hardwood composite deck.
Composite Decks Create Transferrable Value
While some DIYers may not mind the upkeep necessary for wood decks, keep in mind that the future homeowner may not agree. What one homeowner views as a perk, another may regard as a chore. A new homebuyer may view a pressure-treated deck as something that will require effort to maintain. Depending on the size and condition of the old deck, this could be a deal-breaker during the sale. A low-maintenance, high-quality composite deck, on the other hand, is far more appealing to potential buyers and will most likely retain more of its transferrable value for a longer period of time.
Benefits of Composite Decking
When homeowners realise the full expenses of installing a pressure-treated wood deck, the advantages of composite decking become clearer. Once installed, polypropylene-based composite decking, such as Barrette Outdoor Living’s composite decking, requires little upkeep to keep it looking good.
A high-quality composite deck can survive for more than 50 years (depending on the strength of its substructure) and still look fantastic with only occasional soap and water washing.
As homeowners seek additional benefits from their outside spaces, transforming drab and underutilized areas into a creative and personal refuge, construction professionals are advocating composite decking more than ever before. Homeowners who plan to acquire weather-resistant furniture, high-end outdoor appliances, and other embellishments are unlikely to want to move them every few years to power wash and repaint or stain a wood deck.
With composite decking that looks and feels like genuine wood, homeowners can spend more time creating memories on their new deck rather than worrying about deck maintenance. For many homeowners, the peace of mind that comes with installing a composite deck is a year-round benefit.