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To get a jump on those prime outdoor months, now’s the time to start thinking about choosing your decking material. Here’s a look at wood vs. composite.

Bacon-wrapped shrimp. Baby-back ribs. Corn on the cob. (Mmmmm.) We all love a good, ol’ fashioned grill out. But without a deck to house the goods? You’ll be stuck searing steaks in a frying pan. (I hope you like your meat well-done.)

If you love the outdoors and barbecued meats? A snazzy deck will make you feel right at home. But before you bust out the hammers and nails, you have a few decisions to make. First order of business? Choosing a decking material that suits your lifestyle, desired aesthetic, and budget.

To help you decide, here’s a comparison between two popular decking materials: composite and wood.

Composite decking

Back in the day, wood decking was the yardstick against which all other decking materials were judged. Given this preference, early composite and vinyl decks were made with grains and textures intended to mimic the look of natural wood.

But composite decking has evolved drastically over the years, and customers no longer compare apples to oranges. Once compared unfavorably to wood, composite decking is now a serious front-runner in the decking space. Not just a wood alternative, composite decking is preferred by many homeowners for its low cost, good looks, durability, and easy-care nature.

Pravol Dura-Shield Ultratex Ipe Hollow Grooved Composite Decking

Pravol Dura-Shield Ultratex Ipe Hollow Grooved Composite Decking

Here are a few good reasons to choose composite decking:

  • Many styles convincingly mimic the look of natural wood
  • Virtually maintenance-free (no yearly staining or weatherproofing)
  • 100 percent recyclable and environmentally friendly
  • Resistant to rot, mildew, insects, and moisture
  • Won’t warp, chip, or split
  • Easy to install with the “fastener free deck clip” system

Wood decking

While wood alternatives have come a long way over the years, some homeowners feel that Mother Nature still knows best. A natural wood deck is a thing of wonder, an awe-inspiring feature that exudes a timeless beauty and warmth.

From exotic Brazilian ash to rich, showy massaranduba, there’s something truly special about the rustic warmth of natural wood. With the right maintenance and care, your natural wood deck will look beautiful for years to come.

PerennialWood Modified SYP, Premium Grade SKU: 15264635

For the best of both worlds, some wood deck materials are thermally treated to stand strong and stylish for decades. Backed by a 25-year warranty, BuildDirect’s PerennialWood Modified SYP, Premium Grade is treated to match the strength and looks of cedar, and even teak. Some wood deck materials, like BuildDirect’s Perennial Wood, has been modified even at the molecular level to resist moisture damage thanks to proprietary TruLast™ Technology.

Regardless of which species you choose, remember that natural wood is vulnerable to moisture, the sun’s rays, and warping, drying, and cracking. Before you invest in a wood deck, make sure you’re on board with the necessary annual upkeep. For some homeowners, the beautiful look and feel of natural wood is well worth the extra care.

Here are a few good reasons to choose wood decking:

  • In all its rich, natural glory, a wood deck is a thing of beauty
  • Naturally UV-resistant choices are available, like red cedar
  • Can offer structural strength and resale value to your property
  • Can be good for wet climates (redwood and cedar have natural water-repellent properties)
  • Most varieties are naturally resistant to insects and decay
  • Can be more economical in dry climates where you might get away with a softwood, like pine
  • Exotic woods can be more than 3X as hard as traditional woods, for added durability.

To keep your wood deck looking beautiful for years to come, peruse this Wood Deck Maintenance Checklist.

Gettin’ decked out

Ready to roll up your sleeves? Here are a few first steps to consider:

  • Decide what matters to you most. If you must achieve that natural, rustic look? Opt for wood. If you can’t stomach yearly maintenance? Consider composite.
  • Once you’ve chosen your preferred decking material, request samples to get a closer look. (You can order composite samples here and wood samples here.)
  • Get ready to build the deck of your dreams!
  • Throw another steak on the BBQ. Next time? Invite me. (Cough.)

What’s your take?

Are you leaning towards composite or wood decking? What appeals to you most about either option? Be sure to add your two cents, questions, and comments below!




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Tanya Roberts

Tanya Roberts is a writer and marketer who loves to spin stories about interior design and home decor. She is principle strategist at