The "Value" Proposition of Wood vs. Composite Decking


We're often asked if we would recommend Wood or Composite decking materials. We at Deck Indulge are product agnostic, meaning we aren’t tied to one material or the other. People often hear that a composite deck is more expensive than a wood deck.

Without getting into exotic and extremely expensive materials you basically have three options: pressure treated pine, redwood, and composite decking. Here is the current approximate breakdown in cost:

  • Pressure Treated Pine = $1.15 a linear foot

  • Redwood = $3.00 a linear foot

  • Mid-Grade Composite Decking = $2.59 a linear foot

On the surface, the pressure treated pine wood seem to be the clear winner in terms of cost effectiveness. Let’s take a closer look at this however with an example of a typical standard 500 SQFT deck. In most cases, composite and wood decks requires the same framing and railing, and the bulk of the building costs are not in the decking itself. In other words, even though the composite decking is over 100% more in cost the decking material only represents a fraction of the overall cost of the build.

Let’s start by converting the square feet to linear feet. (2.1) * SQFT = Linear Feet of decking.

500 x 2.1 = 1050 LF

Pressure Treated Wood Decking Option:

Select grade wood decking = 1.15 LF

Decking material cost = 1.15 * 1050 = $1207.50

Staining = ~$2 SQFT = $1000

Cost of decking year 1 = $2207.50

Composite Decking Option:

Mid grade composite = $2.59 LF

1050 * 2.59 = $2719.50

Cost difference first year = 2719.50 – 2207.50 = $512

Keep in mind:

  • You’re going to need to stain the wood deck again after 2/3 years.

  • A house with a wood deck will be valued less then a deck made of composite.

Other Things to Consider

Redwood is an excellent choice as a decking material. Together with its long life, light weight, resistance to rot and insects, superior wood properties that resist checking, cracking and beautiful look it’s without a doubt a great material for building decks. It does however need to be sealed with a high-quality paint, stain or sealer approximately every 3 years.

Pressure treated pine is an okay lower cost alternative to redwood. It features long life and resists rot and insects. However, it is prone to checking, cracking and cupping.

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