3 Myths About Composite Decking Material Cost

June 19, 2020
HomeOutdoor Living Ideas3 Myths About Composite Decking Material Cost

In this post, we bust three common myths about composite decking material cost, appearance, and sustainability.

For many years, wood has been the go-to decking material for homeowners. Unfortunately, wood is highly susceptible to rot, insects, mold, and moisture damage. Wood decks also require annual maintenance such as staining and waterproofing — cue strenuous labor, mounting costs, and harmful chemicals called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) found in many deck stains.

But today, homeowners have a far more attractive alternative: composite decking.

Today, TimberTech is innovating within the fast-growing composite decking category thanks to materials science engineering like our proprietary protective capping, plus industry-best warranties and one of the largest color portfolios on the market. Still, even as the category grows in popularity, myths persist around everything from composite decking material cost to the product’s perceived design shortcomings to its environmental impacts.

Luckily, those are as easy to bust as pressure-treated wood boards. So, let’s set the record straight on three common myths related to composite decking.

Myth No. 1: Composite Decking Material Cost Far Exceeds Wood

If you’ve ever considered increasing the value and beauty of your home by adding an outdoor living space, you’ve likely heard this myth. The problem is, it’s just not the reality — in the long-run, composite decking saves you money. Period.

To understand composite decking material cost and how to break down its value, it’s important to look at how composite compares to different other decking materials throughout a deck’s lifespan. To determine which is a better investment, look at two things: upfront costs and long-term costs.

Upfront Composite Decking Material Cost

Upfront cost will depend on either the species of wood you select (if you build with wood), or the composite decking line you choose (e.g., capped composite or capped polymer). When you look at either end of the investment spectrum — comparing costs for our TimberTech® EDGE™ and TimberTech AZEK® lines with similar investment bands for traditional lumber — the overall upfront costs associated with TimberTech composite decking can easily come in at only about 5% more than those associated with traditional wood decking.

Read that one more time: you can enjoy stain-, fade-, moisture-resistant composite decking — which requires none of traditional wood’s staining, sanding, or maintenance — and all for approximately 5% more upfront investment.

Here’s a visual to illustrate upfront composite decking material cost for TimberTech AZEK decking vs. premium hardwood.

Ipe Premium Hardwood vs. TimberTech AZEK Vintage Boards

v2 resize test upfront costs ipe vs azek vintage board 1

The estimated average cost of capped polymer deck boards and Ipe hardwood decking costs are based on the national average for a 16’ x 20’ deck. Meant for visual representation only. Actual costs may vary.

The estimated average cost of composite deck boards and pressure-treated lumber decking costs are based on the national average for a 16’ x 20’ deck. Meant for visual representation only. Actual costs may vary.

Check out this breakdown on the average cost of composite deck boards to learn even more.

Long-Term Composite Decking Material Cost

How about long-term costs? Spoiler alert: TimberTech capped composite and capped polymer deck boards win again. Unlike traditional wood, TimberTech composite decking doesn’t require costly maintenance and replacement. Take our TimberTech AZEK line as an example of premium performance; just a few of the associated benefits include:

  • Superior moisture and mold resistance thanks to a capped polymer construction with no wood in the core or cap.
  • Enduring beauty and durability thanks to polymer caps boasting Alloy Armour Technology®.
  • Unrivaled strength against weathering and fading as supported by an Industry-Leading Lifetime Warranty.

If it sounds like that means TimberTech composite decking will outperform even premium hardwoods — it will. See how the maintenance costs stack up over 10 years:

Ipe Premium Hardwood vs. TimberTech AZEK Vintage Boards

Costs after 10 years Ipe Premium Hardwood vs TimberTech AZEK

The estimated average cost of capped polymer deck boards and Ipe hardwood decking costs are based on the national average for a 16’ x 20’ deck. Meant for visual representation only. Actual costs may vary.

All of this boils down to a simple truth: the more money you have to put into your deck, the less money you can keep in your pocket.

Myth No. 2: Composite Decking Is Costly to the Environment

This could be the most off-the-mark myth of them all. As the industry-leading manufacturer of beautiful, low-maintenance, and sustainable building products, we are committed to accelerating the use of recycled materials in our outdoor living and exterior solutions.

Just how are we advancing sustainability and disrupting the decking industry? We're definitely laying the roots of something great.

timbertech saved scrap 2

Cutting Down on Landfills

Not only does TimberTech composite decking use 100% recycled wood, but our proprietary polymers are made from repurposed, hard-to-recycle industrial plastics that would otherwise land in landfills.

Bottom view of tall old trees in evergreen primeval forest of Jiuzhaigou nature reserve (Jiuzhai Valley National Park), Sichuan province, China. Blue sky in background.; Shutterstock ID 373194346

Saving Trees

Because homeowners have chosen TimberTech decking over wood, we’ve saved approximately 1 million trees since 2015 — that’s approximately 20,000 acres of forest. What’s more, we don’t contribute to the harmful overharvesting of Brazilian Ipe.

Legacy-Pecan-Mocha-Nixing VOCs

Nixing VOCs

TimberTech composite decking does not need staining to retain its rich color — unlike traditional wood, which requires VOC-heavy chemical stains to be applied every two to three years. VOCs can cause health problems and contribute to air pollution.

In short, composite decking material cost doesn’t have an accompanying cost to the environment. Plus, all of the wood and polymers in the core of our boards are 100% recycled. That means no trees were cut down to make your TimberTech deck. Traditional wood decking can’t say that.

Myth No. 3: You Have to Sacrifice Natural Designs with Composite Decking

This myth comes out of the 1990s, when the first generation of composite decking emerged. At the time, the technology didn’t exist to capture the complex grain patterns or tonal variation of traditional wood. Some felt that this translated to composite deck boards that looked too synthetic. There was a fear that composite decking material cost homeowners the attractive look they associated with wood.

Flash forward to 2020, when TimberTech is leading the way in gorgeous, hyper-realistic composite decking.

TimberTech capped polymer decking vs wood

We are able to do this thanks to our comfort with departing from the status quo — or, you might say, Going Against the Grain®. As part of The AZEK Company, we’re unified around six core values, including “Lead Through Innovation.” We’ve leveraged world-class materials science to produce capped polymer and capped composite boards that capture all the nuanced beauty of traditional wood. That means you not only enjoy the incredible performance of fade-, stain-, and moisture-resistant composite decking, but also the long-lasting, natural-looking aesthetics only TimberTech can deliver.

The TimberTech AZEK Vintage Collection®

Defined by detail.

Rich Color Blending

The TimberTech AZEK Vintage Collection features up to six colors and features complex, multi-color deck boards for the most realistic wood-tone finishes. How many hues can you find in this Coastline swatch?

Intricate Wood Grain Pattern

Enjoy infinitely variable wood grain patterns and textures for a super realistic appearance rich in complexity. Other wood grain patterns in the TimberTech portfolio include straight-grain, cathedral, and dual-embossed.

When you compare composite decking and wood decking in terms of initial and long-term investment, sustainability, and aesthetics, the myths just can’t hold up.

Crunch the Numbers on Your Project

Jump into our Cost Calculator to figure out the material expenses for your deck remodel.

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