How long does decking last? There is no single answer — as the average lifespan of a wood deck is different from that of a composite deck — and it all comes down to material durability and maintenance.
In general, however, deck lifespan estimations break down as follows:
How Long Does Decking Last: Estimated Lifespan by Material
- Traditional wood deck: Typically 10 to 15 years.
- Capped composite: Industry experts agree these boards can last 25 to 30+ years.
- Capped polymer (the best of the best): Because of its superior material composition, capped polymer boards can last much longer, potentially 50 years or more.
Why such a range? We’re glad you asked.
Deck Material Options: A Quick Breakdown
To best understand the different answers to “how long does decking last,” it’s important to understand your deck material options.
Traditional wood has historically been the most common deck material, but innovative engineered decking is becoming more popular thanks to its superior material composition and minimal maintenance needs.
- Pressure-treated lumber
- Softwoods like cedar and redwood
- Hardwoods like Ipe and mahogany — which still require regular maintenance
- Boards comprised of a mix of organic and non-organic material
- Protected by 3- or 4-sided engineered polymer capping
- Boards comprised of fully engineered polymer material
- Made with the most advanced materials science
How Long Does Decking Last? Average Lifespan of a Wood Deck
With traditional wood, the answer to “how long does decking last?” is: Not very long.
The actual lifespan of your wood deck will depend on the type of wood you’ve chosen and how well you keep up with wood’s rigorous maintenance schedule.
Wood Deck Maintenance
Depending on the type of wood deck you have, your maintenance schedule will likely look something like this:
- Routine deck inspection of the surface and substructure
- Frequent cleaning with chemicals and/or a pressure washer to remove mold, mildew, and dirt built-up
- Sanding, staining, and sealing
Then, repeat every 6 to 12 months. (Ugh.)
And after all your years of strenuous maintenance work? You’ll still likely need to replace your deck within about 15 years.
Understanding Wood’s Short Lifespan
As an organic material, wood fibers are highly susceptible to weathering agents — especially moisture. Moisture damage includes:
- Warping, cracking, and splintering
- Mold and mildew growth
While some types of wood are naturally resistant to moisture, no wood is completely impervious to moisture damage or the harsh outdoor environment.
With all the unending maintenance and an unavoidable deck replacement, traditional wood will end up costing you big time in the long-run.
How Often Should Wood Decks Be Replaced?
A full deck replacement is where the entire deck — both substructure and surface — is replaced. Wood deck boards are typically the first to need replacement. However, oftentimes, when replacing the deck boards, issues with the substructure also become apparent, so it’s recommended to replace both the substructure and surface together.
WOOD DECK REPLACEMENT: Needed every 10 to 15 years, consistent with the average lifespan of a wood deck.
NOTE: By contrast, a capped polymer or capped composite decking lifespan is far greater than wood, and these decks can last for decades — which means little risk of replacement.
What Indicates Wood Deck Replacement?
Not all problems with your traditional wood deck will require a full-blown deck replacement. To determine whether your wood deck needs replacing or simply a few repairs, consider:
The Extent of the Problem
Does the issue affect your deck’s structural integrity, such as rot in the joists or posts, or is it a surface issue, like fading or splintering in your wood decking?
If the cost of the repairs is equal to or greater than the cost of a full replacement, opt for the full replacement — this will ensure you get the longest lifespan out of your new deck.
Tired of your wood deck’s maintenance? Upgrade to low-maintenance, high-performance capped composite and capped polymer decking.
How to Prolong the Lifespan of Your Wood Deck
You want to get the most out of your decking investment — and prolonging the average lifespan of a wood deck is an ideal way to do just that. We recommend the following:
1.) Perform Routine Maintenance
Regularly cleaning and maintaining your deck will keep it in optimal condition for the long-term — whether wood or engineered decking. But maintenance needs between these deck materials vary significantly.
2.) Perform An Annual Deck Inspection
An annual deck inspection allows you to catch problems early when they are still reparable. Combine an inspection with your maintenance schedule to consistently keep tabs on deck health.
3.) Upgrade to a TimberTech Deck
The very best way to optimize your wood deck’s lifespan and avoid replacements? Upgrade to a more durable deck material than wood: TimberTech® capped polymer and capped composite decking.
Composite Decking Lifespan: Enjoy Your Deck for Longer With TimberTech
How long does decking last when it comes to composite? In general, a composite decking lifespan is greater than the average lifespan of a wood deck because of the boards’ high-performance blend of organic (wood) fibers and engineered material.
A capped polymer decking lifespan is even longer, thanks to its superior material composition that includes no wood in the core or cap.
THE AVERAGE CAPPED COMPOSITE DECKING LIFESPAN:
Estimated to be 25 to 30 years.
THE AVERAGE CAPPED POLYMER DECKING LIFESPAN:
Estimated to be 50 years, or more.
More specifically, TimberTech capped polymer and capped composite decking are designed with innovative technology that makes for highly durable, long-lasting decking.
TimberTech AZEK®: Unbeatable Performance
What: A category innovator — the only decking of its kind, made with a unique blend of polymers from core to cap and absolutely no wood in the core or cap.
What this means for you: Your TimberTech AZEK deck
is designed to last not just years, but decades. And, it’s protected with a Lifetime Limited Product Warranty.
TimberTech Composite Decking: Superior to Wood
What: TimberTech PRO® and TimberTech EDGE® capped composite decking feature advanced capping technology made with fully engineered polymers that lock out moisture and UV rays — while locking in rich color.
What this means for you: Your TimberTech composite
deck not only lasts far longer than wood — but looks far better, too.
How Long Does Decking Last? With TimberTech, It Can Last Decades
For a deck you can commit to for the long-term, choose TimberTech for an optimal composite decking lifespan. Our advanced materials science gives our decking exceptional longevity — with minimal maintenance.
Experience the enduring beauty and high performance up close by ordering up to four free samples of our capped polymer and capped composite decking.
Place samples where your deck build is planned to get a true sense of the colors in different lighting. After all: With a deck as enduring as TimberTech, you want to make sure to get the color just right.