Technology

How TimberTech Engineered Decking Surpasses Wood

June 15, 2020

Today, decking options have clearly expanded in selection from the exclusively wood decks of yesteryear. Now, homeowners across the U.S. are opting for engineered decking over wood — and it’s easy to see why. Engineered deck boards, like those made from polymer or composite blends, are more durable and easier to maintain than their wood counterparts. This means fewer repairs and less upkeep over time for a high-value, low-maintenance outdoor living solution you and the whole family can enjoy.

We compared wood decking to engineered decking across categories such as long-term cost, performance, and sustainability to see who came out on top. Continue reading to see the results for yourself.

What Goes Into Engineered Decking?

Engineered deck boards boast high-performance cores of either 100% synthetic (majority recycled) materials, or a blend of synthetic and organic (wood) materials called a composite. Both capped polymer and capped composite deck boards fall into the overall composite decking category, and both  products are considered engineered decking.

TimberTech decking includes either 3-sided or 4-sided protective capping around composite or polymer boards. Our caps help extend the beauty and lifespan of your composite deck by safeguarding against moisture and mildew — which means protection from fading, warping, and weathering. We’ll get into the performance of engineered decking even more below, but first, check out how the anatomy of engineered deck boards compares to wood boards:

TimberTech Engineered Decking

Engineered Decking

This Tigerwood deck board in the TimberTech® PRO® Legacy Collection shows 4-sided protective capping that covers both the grooves and bottom, and the durable composite core. Note the richly varied grain pattern, hand-scraped finish, and saturated hue — all the nuanced beauty of traditional wood, without the wear and tear.

distressed-tradiitional-wood-deck-board

Traditional Wood Decking

This image shows the harsh reality: traditional wood boards feature no protective caps, causing them to warp, splinter, and crack. Whatever color the boards were originally has faded to an unsightly gray-brown due to exposure to the elements.

How Engineered Decking Wins on Cost

One of the first things you’ll want to home in on as a discerning deck enthusiast is cost. When considering engineered decking vs. traditional wood decking, there will be two major components to your investment: initial costs and long-term expenses.

It’s a common misconception that composite decking is far more expensive than your average wood deck — but when you crunch the numbers, that myth crumbles faster than soggy lumber in the rainy season. Here’s how the cost of pressure-treated lumber compares to our TimberTech EDGE® Prime Collection.

Upfront Cost to Build a Deck

Pressure-Treated Lumber vs. TimberTech EDGE Prime Boards

v2 resize upfront costs pressure treated lumber vs edge prime boards v2

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.

Cost Over 10 Years

Pressure-Treated Lumber vs. TimberTech EDGE Prime Boards

v2 resize cost over 10 years pressure treated lumber vs. edge prime boards 01202020 v2

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.

As you can see, you’ll actually end up spending more on traditional wood decking over time as compared to engineered decking. Why? Traditional wood comes with no protective capping to defend against the elements, nor from its own erosion rate. That will mean ongoing maintenance costs, plus back-breaking labor like power-washing, staining, or even the complete replacement of cracked or warped boards.

How Engineered Decking Wins on Performance

TimberTech AZEK-Vintage-Mohagany-Dog

Spoiler alert: in terms of performance, traditional wood doesn’t even get a callout (and we’re not being mean — there just isn’t a single performance category where wood wins out over engineered decking). By contrast, TimberTech decking is specifically engineered to offer enduring beauty (even when confronted with sand, wind, and rain) — all thanks to innovative materials science. Check out the breakdown for our capped polymer TimberTech AZEK® and capped composite TimberTech PRO® lines below.

TimberTech AZEK Deck Boards

  • Since there’s no wood in the core or cap, they are highly resistant to mold and other moisture damage.
  • Stay up to 30 degrees cooler than competitive composite products.
  • Are 30% lighter than competitive products, which saves you time on the job (and therefore $$$).
  • Won’t warp, crack, or splinter.
  • Have an industry-best Lifetime Limited Warranty and 50-Year Fade & Stain Warranty (two-times the fade and stain warranty duration of most competitors).

TimberTech PRO Deck Boards

How Engineered Decking Wins on Sustainability

sustainable to the core

Yet again, the callouts for wood decking are scarce when it comes to sustainability. After all, wood decking contributes to deforestation, including the logging of increasingly rare hardwoods like Ipe. By contrast, no trees are harvested to make our premium-performance decking products. Not one. Traditional wood decking certainly can’t say that. In fact, because consumers chose TimberTech engineered decking over traditional lumber, 1 million trees have been saved since 2015.

It might be tempting to think of synthetic material as inherently unsustainable — but that’s where you wood be wrong. TimberTech uses post-industrial recycled material in its composite decking products, including hard-to-recycle plastics that would otherwise end up in landfills and release harmful dioxins into the environment. That keeps those materials in use and out of the earth, where they belong.

Engineered Decking Protects the Planet

When you select composite decking over wood, you take care of not only your own home, but our shared home — the Earth. Driven by our core value to “Always Do the Right Thing,” we’re engineering outdoor living solutions that are as sustainable as they are beautiful. Check out the positive impact you make when you choose TimberTech.

tigerwood-mocha-radiancerail-decking

No VOCs

Traditional wood deck stains contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are released into the atmosphere every time you re-stain your deck. Since composite decking maintains its beauty without the need for staining, it's an environmentally friendly alternative.

sustainable-deck-materials-water-300x200

Yes, Conservation

We reuse hundreds of gallons of water each day with our closed-loop filtration system, recycling up to 96% of water used annually. Conversely, wood decks will need to be pressure-washed to keep up with appearances — but that kind of water consumption?Hardly a good look.

timbertech saved scrap 2

Recycled Materials

Approximately 54% of all our extruded materials are expected to be from recycled material in 2020, up from approximately 44% in 2019. Up to 98% of our internal scrap is reused, and we diverted 290 million pounds of waste and scrap from landfills in 2019. Wood can't say that.

In the end, the choice is clear. In terms of cost, performance, and sustainability, TimberTech decking is engineered to deliver.

See & Feel the TimberTech Advantage

Our capped polymer and capped composite decking lines combine recycled material with all the beauty of traditional wood.

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