If you are building a new deck for your home, you must first decide whether to use composite decking or wood. A deck made from composite will be heavier than wood and needs more support beams to hold it. The general rule for a wood deck is to place the support pieces 16 inches apart. When using composite decking, the distance between supports should be only 12 inches.
Composite decking is constructed out of recycled plastic and wood fibers. The wood fiber is mixed into the synthetic material to give a more natural appearance. Pressure-treated hardwood is used for most wood decking because of its ability to withstand water damage. Sturdy woods like redwood, pine and cedar are the most common types of decking sold at home improvement and lumber stores.
Cost is the main drawback in choosing composite decking instead of wood. The higher price is usually worth it if you plan to keep your home longer than five years, because of the long lifespan of the composite material. Wood decking could require replacement two or three times before you would need to replace a composite deck. Many home improvement stores and deck installers now offer financing options that spread out the payments over a longer period of time, making the cost less of an obstacle for homeowners.
Composite decking does not require any ongoing maintenance other than just a simple cleaning with a pressure washer when dirt and debris begin to build up. Depending on the amount of rain in your area, wood decking may need to be waterproofed and stained every year in order to keep moisture from seeping in. In dryer climates, a good rule of thumb is to waterproof a wooden deck every three years.
Composite decking has made great strides in visual appearance over the past few years. While it once looked fake and cheap, today's composite decking is available in a variety of colors and natural wood grains. The color of wood decking depends on the type of wood that is used, with dark hardwoods becoming a popular choice for home-built decks.
Because composite decking blends the wood in with a synthetic material, it can withstand adverse weather conditions and resist insects far better than a comparable wood deck. Wood decking may also have problems with splintering or cracking, which will not happen with a piece of composite decking. Composite decking has its own problems, however, such as fading, scratching and staining.