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Hardwood vs Composite Decks: An In-depth Guide

The choice between hardwood and composite decking materials can be daunting. Both offer unique benefits and considerations, and understanding these can help you make an informed decision. As a home remodeling and construction company with decades of experience, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive guide on hardwood vs composite decks. Let’s delve into the details of each material to better understand their pros, cons, maintenance needs, and frequently asked questions.

Hardwood Decks

Hardwood decks are traditionally seen in many homes. Made from natural, durable woods such as teak, ipe, or cedar, these decks add a classic touch to your outdoor space.

Pros of Hardwood Decks

Natural Beauty: The natural grain patterns, unique knots, and rich colors of hardwoods are unbeatable. Hardwood decks radiate an authentic and timeless aesthetic.
Durability: Certain types of hardwoods like ipe are incredibly strong and durable, resisting damage from insects and rot.
Value: Hardwood decks can add significant value to your home due to their natural and high-end look.

Cons of Hardwood Decks

Maintenance: Hardwood decks require regular maintenance, such as staining and sealing to prevent warping, splitting, and moisture damage.
Cost: The initial cost of hardwood decks can be high, especially for exotic types.
Installation: Hardwood decking often requires professional installation, adding to the overall cost.

Maintenance and Cleaning of Hardwood Decks

Maintenance: Hardwood decks need annual or biannual sealing to protect them from moisture, insects, and UV damage. The sealant also helps to maintain the color of the wood.
Cleaning: Regular cleaning using a mild detergent and a soft brush can keep hardwood decks in pristine condition. For more stubborn stains, a pressure washer on a low setting can be effective.

Composite Decks

Composite decking is a modern alternative to hardwood. Made from a mix of wood fibers and plastic, composite decks are designed to mimic the look of real wood while offering superior resistance to outdoor elements.

Pros of Composite Decks

Low Maintenance: Composite decks require less maintenance than hardwood. No need for regular staining or sealing – a simple wash with soap and water is usually enough.
Durability: These decks are highly resistant to rot, insects, and UV rays. They don’t warp, split, or crack as easily as hardwood can.
Variety: Composite decks come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, allowing for more design flexibility.

Cons of Composite Decks

Cost: Composite decks can have a higher initial cost than certain types of hardwood decks.
Heat Retention: Some composite decking materials can retain heat, which might make them uncomfortable to walk on barefoot in hot weather.
Less Natural: While advancements have improved the natural look of composite decks, they still don’t fully replicate the organic beauty and feel of hardwood.

Maintenance and Cleaning of Composite Decks

Maintenance: Composite decks are nearly maintenance-free. They don’t require sealing or staining. However, owners should watch for mold and mildew, which can occur in shady, damp areas.
Cleaning: A mild detergent and soft brush can keep your composite deck looking new. Power washing is not recommended as it can damage the material.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long do hardwood and composite decks last?
Hardwood decks can last anywhere from 10 to 50 years, depending on the type of wood used and the maintenance performed. Composite decks have a similar lifespan, with some manufacturers offering warranties for up to 50 years.

Are hardwood and composite decks environmentally friendly?
Many hardwoods are sustainably sourced, but deforestation remains a concern. Composite decks often use recycled materials, making them a more eco-friendly option.

Which deck is cooler underfoot in hot weather?
Generally, hardwood decks are cooler underfoot than composite decks in hot weather.

Can I install a deck myself?
While it’s possible to install both hardwood and composite decks yourself, professional installation is recommended to ensure the highest quality result and adherence to local building codes.

Your Dream Deck is Just a Call Away

When it comes to choosing between hardwood and composite decks, it comes down to personal preference, budget, and maintenance willingness. Whether you’re looking to install a new deck, redo an existing one, or undertake any other home remodeling job, our team of licensed professionals at Brennan & Associates Inc is here to help.


We are a family-owned business renowned for our quality work. Reach out to us today for a no-obligation consultation. Let us help make your home improvement dreams come true.

General Contractor in Providence, RI