If you are interested in using composite decking material for a new deck build but have trouble justifying the additional cost, you are not alone! The average cost of a 400 sq. ft. composite deck is about $5,700 while the same size deck built using traditional pressure treated lumber will average about $3,000. However, in order to make a truly informed decision, a homeowner will need to compare more than just the cost of materials and installation costs. The purpose of this article is to take a deeper look at all the costs associated with building a traditional wood deck as well as a composite deck so that an accurate, apples-to-apples comparison can be made and the homeowner can make the best decision for their needs.
A Look At Maintenance Costs
Most goods and services on the market are offered in a variety of price points. Similar products serve the same purpose but may be priced quite differently. The same is true for deck building materials. To effectively compare building materials for your deck and choose the one right for your needs, you will need to consider two factors: long-term value (LTV) and the total cost of ownership (TCO). Both terms are used to calculate and measure the total amount of time and money that someone will spend on something they own.
A traditional pressure treated wood deck will cost less to build and install initially, however to keep the deck safe and sturdy and free from damage, it will need more regular maintenance than a composite wood deck. Routine maintenance equals money – whether you choose to DIY the work or hire someone else to complete the maintenance and repairs.
Annual Deck Sealing
Let’s dive a bit deeper into wood deck maintenance costs. All lumber, even pressure treated lumber, is prone to moisture damage at some point. Since wood is an organic material it naturally absorbs and retains water. When water seeps into wood it can cause both minor surface damage like mold and mildew as well as more major damage such as rot that can compromise the structural integrity of the deck. In order to try and prevent as much water damage as possible, wood decks must be sealed every few years with paint or stain.
According to research, homeowners spend an average of $800 per year on professional deck maintenance such as sanding, sealing prepping and staining or painting. The DIYer may spend less but there are still some significant costs associated with doing it yourself like buying the cleaners, stains and sealants as well as the time it takes to complete the work which normally takes up to two full days.
As we’ve shown here so far, after just 2-3 years the additional maintenance expenses required to care for a traditional wood decks is starting to add up to the initial cost of a composite wood deck. While composite deck do require some maintenance it is minimal compared to a wood deck. Composite decks only require sweeping and maybe an occasional light wash with soap and water.
Resale Deal Breaker
Some homeowners who have wood decks maintain them beautifully and don’t mind the extra work and costs associated with them, however home resale value is also something to keep in mind. If you are thinking about selling your home soon, potential buyers may not welcome the additional maintenance expense. This becomes even more of a factor for larger decks that will take more maintenance over time. Studies have shown that composite decks are preferred by new home buyers because of their low maintenance attributes as well as their ability to retain value for a longer period of time.
Benefits of Composite Decking
Many homeowners have come to understand that the true costs of building a traditional wood deck may be lower initially, however may cost more in the long run due to cost to maintain it. High-quality composite deck materials can last up to 25 years and most come with limited stain and fade warranties.
As more and more homeowners enjoy the extended living space that decks provide, deck contractors are starting to recommend newer generation composite decking materials over traditional pressure treated wood decks. Initially, when composite deck materials were new to the marketplace there was very little variety and most didn’t look very realistic, however manufacturers have come along way and today’s composite wood decking can closely mimic teak, cherry or walnut.
If you are ready to join the millions of homeowners who have taken the composite wood deck plunge give our team a call today so that we can get started on your deck build!
Wood decks are by far the most common type of deck you will see across the US, however it does take some regular maintenance in order to keep it safe and beautiful. Despite our best efforts at staining and sealing, deck boards can still sometimes become cracked and splintered making the deck not only old and worn looking but can also present some safety concerns over time. Some homeowners choose to replace worn deck boards with composite decking boards but for many this option may be cost prohibitive. If you fall into that category there is some good news I have to share with you about a more affordable solution to your worn and cracked deck boards. There is a product designed to restore your existing deck boards called deck paint restoration.
What is a Deck Restoration Coating?
Deck restore paint coatings are made from a durable and long-lasting tintable acrylic base material with UV inhibitors and added solids. The solids that are added to the coatings provide texture and hold the product together once applied to the wood surface. There are several brands to choose from – some brands allow the wood to breathe yet still also repel water while others form an impermeable barrier. No matter which brand you select, all of them will require thorough surface preparation in order to get all the benefits of the restorative coatings.
Deck paint restoration coatings are designed to be a thick solution that can fill in cracks, splinters and knotholes. These restoration coating products also retexture the wood surface and can last up to 13 years for a single coat. Even better news! This DIY project won’t take you weeks and weeks of time! You can complete the prep work on one weekend and them apply the restore paint coating product during the next weekend. In order to prepare your wood deck for the coating you will need to clean it thoroughly with a pressure washer and deck cleaner.
Deck restoration paint covering options
Some retail brands that we’ve used and can highly recommend are:
It is important to research the surface preparation requirements issued by each manufacture for each of these products and get any questions answered by a local deck contractor or an expert at the home improvement or hardware store.
The Restore 10X product is ten times the thickness of paint while the Restore 4X (as well as the other products) are four times the thickness of paint. If your deck has larger cracks and knots to fill your best bet is to use the 10X product as it will be more durable and better able to cover those cracks and knots to restore surface flaws. However, be warned the additional thickness of these products also means that it covers fewer square inches so it will take more product to cover your deck area. If you deck only has some minor cracks and knots to restore you may want to consider the thinner coating products in order to save time and money.
Another important consideration when selecting a paint restoration coating is the color. If your deck receives a lot of direct sunlight during the day you will not want to choose a dark color because the coatings absorb a lot of heat and retain it longer than untreated wood deck boards. For decks that receive direct sunlight in the heat of the day you will want to select a lighter coating color so that the deck does not become to hot to walk on with bare feet.
Another consideration when selecting a coating product is that some products (such as the Restore 10X) can only be used on horizontal surfaces. You will need to select a matching or complimentary product that is designed for vertical deck surfaces such as posts. To save on costs when buying more than 4 gallons consider buying the restorative coating product in bulk pails. As we’ve mentioned earlier in this article the effectiveness of the restorative deck coating products has a lot to do with the preparation process. We recommend purchasing t he manufacturer’s deck wash in order to be sure that the wash you use is compatible with the coating product.
Some deck restoration products (such as Restore 10X) can be used only on horizontal surfaces, so you’ll need a matching or complementary product designed for the deck’s vertical surfaces. And, if you’re buying 4 or more gallons, buy it in pails instead of individual gallons. You won’t have to refill your roller tray constantly (the product goes fast!). Before you leave the store, buy the manufacturer’s recommended deck wash to ensure compatibility with the deck coating. And buy enough application rollers (one roller for every 4 gallons of material). Ask the store for extra stir sticks—you’ll need them to clean the product from the gaps between boards.
Happy deck restoration weekend! If you would rather skip this DIY project we’ve got your back! Give our team a call to discuss prep and restorative coating application prices!