A beautiful deck can add years, even decades, of delightful outdoor living and entertainment for your family and guests. That’s why, when you’re ready to invest in a brand-new deck, it’s worth being sure you choose the material that suits you best.
Natural wood is beautiful and traditional, but it won’t last as long as alternatives like capped composite and capped polymer materials. And these different options require different amounts of upkeep to keep them performing well.
Let’s take a closer look at how these decking products are made, how long they last, and what you’ll need to do to maintain them—so you can make the right decision for your new deck installation.
Natural Wood Decking
Traditionally, authentic wood has been the classic choice for homeowners in building their decks. Among the benefits of using real wood, you’ll enjoy:
- Wonderful choices — You can opt for beautiful soft woods such as cedar and redwood, hard woods like mahogany and ipe (a popular hard wood from Central and South America), and even pressure-treated lumber.
- Unique appeal — Natural wood is peerless when it comes to unique grain patterns that give your deck a customized look.
Natural wood decking typically lasts between 10–15 years.
Because natural wood is an organic substance, it tends to wear down quickly when exposed to the elements. Water damage can easily cause wood to rot, break down, warp, loosen, and grow mold and mildew—all of which help to explain why wood doesn’t last that long compared to manmade decking.
In addition, you’ll need to ensure the installation of a real wood deck is done with precision, because its lifespan can be decreased by over-exposure to the elements, closeness to the ground (which breeds damaging dampness), or poor upkeep.
To get the longest life out of authentic wood, you must properly care for it. And because it’s wood, it requires higher maintenance than other decking materials.
Every 6-12 months, you’ll need to:
- Inspect the deck, including boards, railing, steps, and under-structure.
- Repair anything that is loose or damaged to prevent wood rot and splintering.
- Clean regularly with a wood-safe cleanser and a power-washer to get rid of dirt, mold, mildew, leaves, pollen and other debris.
- Sand, stain and seal the wood to protect it from harsh weather (a tedious process).
Capped Composite Decking
Composite decking materials are a popular alternative to natural wood. Made from a mixture of wood fibers and recycled plastic at its core, and encased in a protective polymer layer, capped composite decking is:
- Attractive—It’s designed to mimic natural wood grain for beautiful style.
- Sustainable—It’s eco-friendly due to its use of recycled materials
- Enduring—It resists the growth of mold and mildew.
Capped composite decking lasts around twice as long as natural wood — giving you 25–30 years or more of outdoor delight.
Keep that lasting nature in mind as you plan for your new deck. While composite materials can be pricier than some natural woods initially, this is balanced by its many benefits—including simpler upkeep, fewer hassles because there are fewer repairs, and many more years of life out of it before you need to replace it.
Just be sure to choose a team of decking professionals who will carefully install it so you get the best results.
Because composite decking doesn’t wear down easily when exposed to the weather, you don’t have to worry about issues like rot or splintering. Unlike wood, composite decking doesn’t need to be re-stained every year.
You will, however, want to sweep it, remove leaves, and rinse it to get rid of dirt and pollen. If you don’t, the debris can get moldy. If you wish, it can be painted if you desire to give it a refreshed look.
Capped Polymer Decking
Like capped composite, capped polymer decking is a manmade material crafted from PVC. Over the years, capped polymer has been improved and enhanced so that today, it is supremely long-lasting and durable, without sacrificing beauty and charm.
Of all the decking materials, capped polymer lasts the longest, giving you 50 years or more of gorgeous style.
In addition to its enduring performance, high-end capped polymer (such as TimberTech AZEK decking) offers:
- Elegant designs—TimberTech AZEK features attractive colors and patterns carefully crafted to replicate an authentic wood-grain look.
- Comfortable use—TimberTech AZEK stays cool to the touch, so family members and pets can walk on it with bare feet (and paws) safely in summer’s heat.
- Impressive durability—Capped polymer decks are very simple to maintain, long-lasting, and make outdoor living a delight for years to come.
Capped polymer is made to last—without constant upkeep. It is fade-resistant, doesn’t easily stain from spilled items, stands up well against moisture, and resists deterioration. Beyond regularly sweeping or rinsing the deck to clear away dirt, you’ll be free to enjoy its low-maintenance quality.
Between its decades of durability, its beautiful style, and its impressive warranty (if you choose TimberTech AZEK), capped polymer decking is well worth the initial investment.
New Deck Installations that Will Wow You and Your Guests
When you’re ready to install a new deck for your Chicago home, make sure you choose a material that is designed to last with simple upkeep. At Siding & Windows Group, we love providing durable, attractive results that make your home lifestyle a joy. That’s why we specialize in TimberTech decking, which is available in top-performing capped composite and capped polymer product lines that look gorgeous and give you decades of enjoyment.
Learn more about the reasons Chicago homeowners love TimberTech composite decking—installed by our team of caring craftspeople—and start picturing your dream deck.