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With so many different decking materials available these days, homeowners are always weighing the pros and cons of each before making their final decisions. And, all homeowners really want the same thing—the most durable and longest-lasting decking material for the lowest price.
It’s no surprise that next generation decking materials like capped composite decking and capped PVC decking run at the higher end of the cost spectrum. But, is this really the truth when you look at the entire lifecycle of the deck and its total cost of ownership?
This leads us to another question—does capped composite decking and PVC decking really cost more, and is it worth going with one of these more modern wood alternatives?
The cost of installing a deck doesn’t vary depending on which decking material you choose. The reason is because the installation process is exactly the same for each type of decking material. Therefore, in addition to the deck material, your total installation costs are going to include:
As a matter of fact, capped composite decking removes the need for staining, painting, UV blocking, sealing, and waterproofing, so the total cost of installation could actually be less expensive for a wCPC deck.
Your substructure is going to be same regardless of your deck material. Every raised deck utilizes pressure-treated wood as its substructure so there is no difference in price, whether or not you are having a wCPC deck installed.
Material cost is where you will see the widest price difference between traditional decking materials and newer wCPC materials, at least in terms of upfront costs. For a pressure treated wood deck or one made from other soft woods, the upfront cost of materials and installation is anywhere between $3,100 and $3,900. Meanwhile, a capped composite deck costs between $4,200 and $5,300. PVC decking materials end up costing the most, with total cost of installations averaging at $5,500.
While it might be intimidating choosing a newer, more expensive decking material, one should consider the overall cost of ownership the deck will demand over its lifespan. This is where the difference is undeniably clear cut.
For pressure treated wood and other soft wood decks, the maintenance needs are extensive. These types of decks require annual staining and sealing if you want to keep it looking and functioning the way you need it to. And, over time, all of this maintenance really adds up.
When you are paying for a new deck, regardless of the material you choose, you want it to be protected. Your product’s warranty is something that needs to be considered because it can also greatly affect the cost of ownership over time.
Again, pressure treated wood and other soft wood decking materials come up short, with most offering zero residential warranties. And, when you figure that these decks have the lowest durability ranking in the field, the lack of warranty means you are going to have to pay out of pocket for any necessary repairs or replacements.
Meanwhile, a capped composite deck is backed by a limited 25-year fade and stain warranty. It’s also covered against things like termites, rot damage, and material defects.
Capped PVC decking offers even longer warranties—up to 30 years in some cases. This type of decking comes with limited warranties for fade and stains, and lifetime limited warranties for termites, material defects, and damage from rot.
If you are trying to choose between decking materials, you have to consider the upfront cost versus the total cost of ownership. Wood decking costs less than composite and PVC upfront, but it costs almost double to own over the life of the deck.
By all comparisons, capped composite decking offers the best in total cost of ownership, and that’s not even including all of the benefits you’ll enjoy by choosing this highly durable, low-maintenance decking product.