So, you’ve finally done it: you’ve made the decision to add a deck to your home. Congratulations. Your lifelong dream of enjoying a cool north-east breeze from the comfort of your own deck on a hot summer’s afternoon is one step closer to becoming a reality.
Now there’s just one tiny, incy wincy issue stopping you from swiping that credit card of yours… which type of deck would be best suited to your home, composite deck or timber?
I can feel your conflicted mind ticking over from all the way over here, and your concerns are all valid.
Composite decks vs timber decks
On the one hand, composite decks are more in line with the values of our modern, eco-conscious society.
A composite board is comprised almost entirely of recycled materials such as sawdust and reusable plastics. Moreover, they don’t require harmful chemicals that are used in the treatment of timber products.
These two facts mean composite boards are friendlier to the environment than timber boards as their production doesn’t necessitate nor contribute to deforestation, nor does it leak toxic materials into waterways and the atmosphere that are potentially detrimental to the Good Green Earth on which we live.
In addition to this, composite boards give off the appearance of real wood (you know, despite the fact they’re not real wood) and for this reason they never splinter. This means you can leave your thongs at the backdoor and walk freely about your deck without ever worrying that your bare feet might feel the painful bite of a splinter.
Given the evidence, the urge to swipe your card and punch in your pin-code is almost irrepressible. Yet there’s one thing holding you back: the price.
Although composite boards tick every box on your must-have checklist in the eco-friendliness department, the looks department, and the safety department, there’s one box left unchecked that makes you refrain from making the purchase.
The price. On the surface, wood is much cheaper than composite materials and this fact alone sometimes makes it the most appealing option for the typical Aussie family. After all, most of us need to operate within a budget, meaning we’ll look for savings wherever we can, including in our purchase of timber vs non-timber products.
Our advice? Don’t be so hasty. The price-tag on hardwood decks is admittedly cheaper than those on a composite deck, but if you dig a little deeper you may discover that over the course of their lifetime, composite boards actually cost you less than their wooden counterpart on which you bet your money.
Long term vs short term costs
It’s true, wooden decking boards are more cost-effective in the short term. The number printed onto their price tag is invariably cheaper.
But this doesn’t mean they’ll be cheaper in the long term.
For the purposes of comparison, let’s take into account the following scenario: a relatively cheap wooden deck costs around $115 per square metre. That means, if you were working on a project that was twenty square metres, the total cost of materials would amount to $2,300.
Let’s put that up against a comparably cheap composite board going for around $139 per square metre. Although it is only a mere $24 more expensive per square metre, the overall cost blows out to the $2,780 for a project of the same size.
That’s a whopping $480 difference in savings that would probably be better off left in your pocket.
But comparing the short-term costs of two products does not necessarily translate to their projected value over time.
You see, wooden decks typically require higher maintenance than composite decks, and they don’t last as long, meaning they may need to be replaced or repaired sooner.
Which brings us to an important key point…
A good composite deck can last for up to twenty-five years, meaning it can serve generations of the same family. Imagine this: your first-born child crawling along your composite deck.
Now fast-forward twenty-five years later, and their child – your grandchild – is doing the same thing on the exact same deck.
Read that again: Exact. Same. Deck.
A composite deck will literally last a lifetime.
On the other hand, the lifespan of your average timber deck only extends to around fifteen years, approximately ten years’ fewer than a composite deck.
Sure, your firstborn child might still be using it when they’re a teenager, but it won’t go much further than that.
You might be thinking, well, that’s still a pretty long time… I think I’ll take my chances on a timber deck, but have you thought about the costs of maintenance over that time period?
If you intend on treating your timber deck in the right way and looking after it in order to prolong its lifetime, you may be looking at forking out a whopping $450 to $850 per year in maintenance.
This estimate takes into account the annual sanding, staining and oiling treatments, which are essential for preserving the integrity of a timber deck.
Conversely, composite decks require zilch in the way of upkeep. No sanding, no staining, no oiling. Nothing. All you need to do with a solid composite deck is to blast it with the hose and give it a wash a couple of times, which amounts to around $5 to $15 in terms of water and soap usage.
It doesn’t take a mathematician to realise which of the two will save you money in the long run. Composite decks win that race. Hands down.
A deck is a valuable outdoor asset that is sure to increase the quality of your life while you live there, and its potential sale value should you ever decide to leave.
In light of this, it is important that you consider your deck in terms of an investment: which will pay the best dividends over the term its lifetime?
Timber decks win the sprint, there’s no doubt about it. They’re cheaper and more affordable in the short term, and admittedly last for a relatively long time.
But composite decks are marathon runners. They last an incredibly long time, require little in the way of upkeep and maintenance, and will certainly save you money in the long term when compared with a needy, high-maintenance timber deck.
At the end of the day, composite decking is better for the environment, is less expensive in the long-term, and still has the classic, visual appeal of a real wooden deck.
Composite decks are a shoo-in over timber decks.
Come in and see one of our consultants to organise the right design and colour scheme for your composite deck, or contact us if you’re still feeling conflicted, can’t make up your mind, or simply want further clarification around which product you should buy.