If building a new deck is on your wish list this year, now is the time to start thinking about the details — including what material you will choose to build your deck with.
While pressure-treated wood decking has long been a favorite choice for homeowners looking to build a cost-effective deck, recent increases in the cost of lumber have changed that. Lumber prices have been extremely volatile over the past two years, with some of the highest prices we’ve seen. This has significantly narrowed the gap in cost between wood and composite decking, and many more people are now choosing composite over wood.
Let’s take a closer look at the current cost differences between composite and wood decking, and why composite decking is the better choice right now.
Cost Comparison: High Lumber Prices Are Bridging the Cost Gap
Lumber shortages throughout the pandemic have driven up costs for wood decking. This has made other decking materials, such as aluminum and composite, more financially viable options for many homeowners.
Experts were hopeful that lumber prices would normalize during the second half of 2021 — and they did, briefly. But the end of 2021 saw lumber prices double again, with volatile pricing continuing into 2022.
In addition to pandemic-related shortages, the Canadian lumber industry has been struggling with multiple environmental issues, including heavy rains and flooding in late 2021 and early 2022 and an ongoing mountain pine beetle infestation. Since Canadian forests and mills supply more than 25% of the lumber supply in the U.S., these issues have affected the price we pay for lumber. Increased tariffs on Canadian lumber imports beginning in November of 2021 have played a significant role in current lumber pricing as well.
Composite Beats Wood in Durability and Maintenance
Even with high lumber prices, the average initial cost of a composite deck is still a bit higher than wood. But composite beats wood in both durability and maintenance costs, so in the long run, the cost of composite is lower.
Wood decking requires regular maintenance in the form of stripping, sanding, and staining. Other than occasional washing with soap and water, a composite deck requires very little maintenance, meaning fewer ongoing costs over the life of your deck.
Composite is also more durable than wood. Composed of a blend of wood fibers and recycled plastic, it is extremely weather- and stain-resistant, and it won’t splinter, warp, rot, or split. With the convenience of plastic and the strength and beauty of wood, a composite deck offers you the best of both worlds.
When it comes to value over the long term, composite beats wood decking every time.
Building a Deck This Year? Composite Decking Is the Way To Go
Between the current cost of lumber and the differences in maintenance and durability, composite is the way to go if you’re planning to build a deck this year. And if you’ve always wanted a low-maintenance composite deck, but the price has held you back, it’s the perfect time to upgrade.