Adding a deck to your property is a smart move that could pay off in different ways. But not all decking material is created equal, and these days, many homeowners are opting for composite decking over classic wood. The reason? Composite is much easier to maintain. But in spite of that, it could still pay to opt for a wooden deck, especially if you're flipping a house or preparing your own house to sell.
Why wood may be a better choice than composite
The average cost to add a wooden deck onto a home is $14,360, according to Remodeling Magazine's most recent Cost vs. Value Report. By comparison, the average composite deck costs $19,856. As such, there's a lot of upfront savings to be reaped when you choose wood over composite.
But that's not all. From a return on investment perspective, wood is also a better choice. The average homeowner or house-flipper who installs a wooden deck will recoup $10,355, or 72.1% of that project's initial cost. By contrast, with composite decking, the average amount recouped is $13,257, representing a cost recovery of 66.8%. As such, if your primary goal in installing a deck is to add to your home's resale value and recoup the largest chunk of your investment, then wood may be the smarter choice.
The pros and cons of wood versus composite
From an investment perspective, it's clear that wood decking over composite is a good bet. But what if you're not flipping or selling a house? What if you're installing a deck for your own enjoyment? In that case, it could actually pay to choose composite.
Wood decking requires a lot of ongoing maintenance. You need to seal and sand it every year and paint or stain it every other year. You'll also need to pressure-wash your deck every year, and sometimes more frequently than that. If you don't maintain your wooden deck properly, it can warp, splinter, and even rot through completely, resulting in a major hazard.
Composite decking, on the other hand, requires very little maintenance. You may need to pressure-wash it every year, but that's really about it. In fact, over time, you're apt to spend a lot less money maintaining a composite deck than a wooden deck. If you're adding a deck and selling your property shortly after the fact, that's not a concern, as you won't be the one stuck with that maintenance. But if you're planning to stay in your home for a long time, then you may be better off spending more on composite and saving yourself the money and hassle over time.
Of course, if you happen to prefer the look of wood, then you might opt for it anyway in spite of that maintenance. Aesthetics should play a role in your decision, too.
The bottom line
Ultimately, any type of deck is a good addition to your home. It can help you better enjoy your outdoor space and add to your property's resale value. While wood decking may offer a better return on investment, if that's not your primary concern, then composite may be a more suitable choice.