When it comes to decking, performance is paramount. A gorgeous outdoor living space should stay looking as beautiful on day 1,000 as on day one, and all with minimal maintenance required. But not all decks are created equal — different decking materials will translate to different maintenance demands in terms of frequency of labor and long-term cost. Traditional wood will require the most maintenance over the deck’s lifespan, whereas the maintenance for composite decking is practically nonexistent. That means, when you choose TimberTech® capped composite or capped polymer decking, you save on long-term costs, time, and stress.
Hello, low-maintenance outdoor living.
Maintenance for Composite Decking vs Wood Decking
Because pressure-treated wood is one of the oldest decking materials, “deck maintenance” often conjures thoughts of three things: staining, cleaning, and deck board replacement.
Let’s look at each, comparing composite decking (both capped polymer and capped composite deck boards) against traditional pressure-treated wood.
Regular Staining Required
Unlike TimberTech composite decking, traditional wood boasts no protective capping, leaving wood deck boards exposed to the fading powers of UV rays, rain, snow, sleet, and more. Unlike when it comes to maintenance for composite decking, this will mean some less-than-ideal realities:
- Unattractive weathering: Think bleaching, dandruff, and fading.
- Environmentally harmful VOCs: Deck staining introduces VOCs — or volatile organic compounds — into the atmosphere. VOCs emit into the air as soon as the products are opened, when each coat of stain is applied, and again when the stains are drying. Staining a wood deck thus comes at an ecological cost.
- Major expense: According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of staining a wood deck is just over $700 — or higher if you also need to rent a power washer. Don’t forget, that’s often a yearly line item.
Even pressure-treated lumber will need to be stained as frequently as once a year. That’s time, money, and environmental health lost.
No Staining — Ever
Our capped polymer deck boards (TimberTech AZEK®) and our capped composite deck boards (TimberTech PRO® and TimberTech EDGE®) all boast innovative materials science that locks in color, even against harsh weathering agents. In fact, TimberTech composite decking offers you:
- Peace of mind: Our decking is backed by industry-leading warranties, including a 50-Year Fade & Stain Limited Warranty for TimberTech AZEK lines, the best among major decking manufacturers.
- $0 spent on staining: Traditional wood decks can require staining every single year to maintain an attractive appearance. Over time, that expense adds up — in fact, since pressure-treated lumber requires regular maintenance like staining, any savings earned from building a hardwood deck will be squandered in as little as three years.
With TimberTech, your deck's colors stay rich and enduringly beautiful. That means maintenance for composite decking doesn’t involve staining, ever.
Prepare to Scrub
Cleaning a traditional wood deck is a significant undertaking. You’ll have to:
- Sweep the deck: This will include getting down on your hands and knees to clear organic material from between the deck boards with a putty knife.
- Scrub the wood: You will likely have to use bleach or a bleach solution to break through accumulated layers of natural material that is slowly eating away at your wood boards. That said, bleach can also eat at the integrity of traditional lumber. If that seems like a lose-lose — we agree.
- Rinse…likely with a pressure washer: If you think scrubbing is the only hard part of cleaning a wood deck, think again. Power washers involve filter cleanings, accessories, and of course, a potentially unwieldy high-pressure spray.
- Seal: Once you’ve washed your wood deck, you’ll still have to seal it to avoid losing the benefit of all your hard work. That’s taking the labor you just did — and doubling it.
Traditional wood decks have to rely on harsh chemicals like bleach and powerful pressure washers to stand a chance at removing the layers of erosion that eat through wood.
Elbow grease is a given.
No Back-Breaking Cleaning
Thanks to our deck boards’ polymer capping, dust, debris, and liquids can only sit on the surface without permeating the deck boards. This means, when it comes to maintenance for composite decking, TimberTech AZEK, TimberTech PRO, and TimberTech EDGE boards only need an occasional wash-and-rinse with an approved cleaning agent and appropriate brush.
- For all TimberTech decking: All-purpose TimberTech DeckCleaner™ battles surface build-up. Oil-targeting dish soap will provide effective spot cleaning.
- For TimberTech AZEK: Use a stiff, natural fiber brush to apply cleaner, then rinse completely with a hose.
- For TimberTech PRO and TimberTech EDGE: Use a medium to stiff nylon brush to apply cleaner, then rinse completely with a hose.
For more details on how to care for your TimberTech deck, check out our Care & Cleaning Guide.
Forget scrubbing on your hands and knees. TimberTech composite decking resists agents that cause unsightly staining, mildew, and rot — all of which need power washing on wood decks. You won’t break a sweat — or the bank.
Deck Board Replacement
With Wood, Replacement Is Guaranteed
While maintenance for composite decking is a no-brainer, the same can’t be said of wood. Whether your deck is made of premium hardwood or pressure-treated lumber, deck board replacement isn’t a matter of “if,” but “when.” Because wood is porous, moisture will get into your deck boards — and when that happens, you can expect warping, buckling, shearing, and even structural damage. Wood decks come with:
- Labor-intensive board replacement: You’ll have to replace your wood boards every 10-15 years. That could mean you’ll replace your entire wood deck twice over the course of its lifespan.
- Possible safety issues: Moisture collecting in the wood substructure below won’t be readily seen and can cause rot. That, combined with moisture-permeated wood deck boards, can lead to injury and significant deck damage.
You’ll need time, tools, and know-how to replace rotting, warped, or buckled wood boards.
Incredible Durability, Year After Year
Your deck should be enjoyed, not maintained. That’s why TimberTech composite decking offers you:
- Top-of-the-line performance: Our TimberTech AZEK line comes with an unrivaled Lifetime Limited Warranty, and our TimberTech PRO decking is backed by a 30-Year Limited Warranty — five years longer than our leading competitor.
- An investment in longevity: The primary cause of deck board damage is the invasion of moisture into the board, which then causes warping, buckling, and/or cracking. Because TimberTech capped polymer and capped composite deck boards feature 3- or 4-sided capping and robust polymer bonds in the core, so moisture doesn’t stand a chance.
TimberTech composite decking is engineered to stay as sturdy and seamless decades later as on day one.
In the end, of the three categories commonly associated with deck health — staining, cleaning, and deck board replacement — maintenance for composite decking will typically only involve one: the occasional wash-and-rinse. You get back all the time you would have otherwise spent maintaining your wood deck, to be spent however you’d like…
But we’d recommend relaxing with loved ones on your composite deck.
See & Feel the TimberTech Advantage
Our capped polymer and capped composite decking lines combine recycled material with all the beauty of traditional wood.