51 W. End Trail #552
Macungie, PA 18062
Hydro Scrub provides pressure washing services to Berks, Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery, and Northampton Counties, including the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Whitehall, PA.
We are now closed for the season. Have a happy, healthy and safe Holiday season.
Q… What are the pros and cons of composite and real wood decks?
A… Good question and one which has an answer that could take all day for a detailed response. We will summarize our feelings below.
First, understand that there are several “generations” of composite decks. The “early” generation composite decks tend to grow mold and mildew and show “spotting” from such much more than the “newer” generation composite decks and also more than wood... this is the biggest downside we see to composite deck materials. Some “early” composite decks needed to be cleaned 2 or 3 times a year as a result of mold and mildew, but the cleaning process is quite simple…. It is pretty much all chemical based… with very little “power” washing. There are numerous civil lawsuits regarding some well known (e.g., TREX, Choice Deck) composite deck manufactures, and for a while, mold and mildew issues were an industry wide challenge for the deck manufactures. The pros to an “early” composite deck is that in our opinion they feel and look more like real wood than the “newer” composite decks.
The “newer” composite decks handle mold and mildew issues much better than the “early” composite decks. The cons to the “newer” decks are, in our opinion, they look and feel like plastic.
Composite decks in general stain a lot easier than real wood. If you drop hamburgers and such on your deck during outings on the deck, you will likely have permanent stains unless you attend to the stain quite promptly. Simple Green or routine dish soap works well for grease stains, but be sure to rinse the soap off. Keeping a small spray bottle of Simple Green on your deck is a good precaution.
Composite decks tend to get very hot (temperature wise) in the summer when the sun hits them... to the point where you cannot walk on them barefoot. They are more expensive than wood, but they do not require sealing or staining.
Finally, composite decks are much more dimensionally stable than wood, meaning they won’t warp, twist, peel, or splinter like wood. You can always go barefoot on a composite deck except for the truly hot and sunny days.
So what about real wood you ask? Well, it is our opinion, that nothing beats the appearance of a well maintained deck finished in a natural wood tone penetrating stain. If pure aesthetics is what you like, wood will meet that goal. However, to maintain such a deck appearance requires continued maintenance, which can become considerable in cost. Expect to spend somewhere between $650 and $900 for your average wood deck to wash and stain. Most natural finishes require a cleaning and reapplication of the finish every two years, but with time and correct maintenance you may be able to stretch it to three years. Don’t expect more than two to three years in most cases with natural wood finishes.
Overall costs to construct a real wood deck, unless it’s a nice quality cedar or redwood, are significantly less than a composite deck, however, when the cost to clean and refinish the wood deck are factored in, a composite deck is significantly cheaper in the long run. If long term cost is a consideration, wood is not the answer.
The big downside to a real wood deck is that if the deck is neglected, it will twist, crack, or splinter and this often results in a lack of future usefulness of the deck. Wood decks also do not like to be used around hot tubs and swimming pools as the constant application of water and pool chemicals is not good for the wood or the finish.
The choice to have a wood or a composite deck is not given to everyone. Most homeowners buy their house with whatever kind of deck was already present. However, if you are replacing an existing deck or building a new deck, Hydro Scrub cautions you to become as educated as you can and do not rush your decision. Your decision should be based on whether you will do your own maintenance to the deck, how long you plan to remain at the house, how you plan to use your deck, and the long term cost of maintenance.
If you have any specific concerns, please feel free to contact us to discuss your pressure washing or power washing project.