How to Select the Best Outdoor Decking Material for Your Project

Updated: Jun 10

With so many options on the market, selecting an outdoor decking material that meets your needs and budget can be a daunting task. Is wood, wood composite, or plastic decking like WearDeck the superior choice for your project? Let’s consider the pros and cons of each popular decking option to make an informed and confident investment.

Wood Decking

Traditional timber remains a popular outdoor decking material for cost-conscious buyers. Wood is easy to build with and offers a traditional, natural appearance. Wood decks are typically built with pressure-treated softwood or hardwood. HomeAdvisor explains that pressure-treated wood is “infused with chemical preservatives” to make the wood more resistant to rot and insect infestation, yet the pressure treatment fails to prevent the natural degradation of wood.

While wood usually costs less than other decking options, it deteriorates sooner and requires regular maintenance like staining to preserve its appearance and performance. Wood is susceptible to mold, rot, warping, shrinking and twisting. Although wood seems like the most affordable outdoor decking material upfront, buyers must consider high maintenance and replacement costs over time.

Wood Composite Decking

Manufacturers combine natural wood fibers with synthetic ingredients like plastic and chemical additives to produce wood composite decking. Wood composite boards can be uncapped or capped, sealed in a plastic skin for added durability. While pricier than pressure-treated lumber, wood composites usually mimic the appearance of natural wood and provide better weather resistance.

Wood composite decks provide advantages to traditional lumber but come with their own drawbacks. Wood composite decking retains heat, making decks uncomfortable and unsafe to walk on during the heat of the day. The Craftsman Blog explains common problems with wood composite including mold, color fading, warping and shrinking, and “boards that feel like a trampoline” from weakening over time. Wood composite and capped wood composite decking might last longer than traditional wood lumber, yet they remain susceptible to problems that can be avoided with plastic decking.

Plastic Decking

Unlike wood and wood composite, deck boards made of plastics like High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) contain no organic components. Plastic decking is waterproof, requires little maintenance, and provides total resistance to insects, mold, mildew, and rot. Compared to wood and wood composite, plastic decking is less susceptible to staining and fading, easy to clean and simple to build with. Plastic decking continues to grow in popularity as buyers desire low-maintenance, permanent decking solutions.

While plastic decking wins buyers over with promises of superior quality, not all plastics decks are created or priced equally. Plastic decking like PVC still comes with risks. Complaints about PVC decking often include significant expansion and contraction, static electricity, heat retention, chalky appearance over time, and lack of strength. Unlike HDPE plastic decking, PVC is not resistant to sunscreen and insect repellent. Without product knowledge, buyers can spend thousands on plastic decking backed by empty promises. We designed WearDeck, HDPE decking reinforced with fiberglass, to overcome the shortcomings of outdoor decking materials and other plastic boards.

WearDeck: The Last Outdoor Decking Material You'll Ever Need

Decking can be a huge investment, and buyers must ensure that their decking material will truly stand the test of time. WearDeck is durable, waterproof, structural and boasts the highest live load rating in the industry. Our boards are impervious to mold, mildew, and insects. We add static protection and our heat-reflective technology to every board. WearDeck even comes in two Barefoot Colors designed to stay cool enough for bare feet on the hottest days. Unlike other outdoor decking options, WearDeck experiences virtually no expansion and contraction. If you are looking for competitively-priced decking without the maintenance, WearDeck will be the last deck board you'll ever need.

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