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Pressure Treated Wood vs. Composite Wood Decking: Which One Is the Better Choice for Your Home

Wood deck patio looking onto back yard

Summer, summertime! Outdoor decks and rooftop patios are a great addition to any home, especially for homeowners fond of spending time in their personal outdoor space whether it be for BBQ sessions, exercise, or leisure activities.

In Chicago, decks expand outdoor living and entertaining and are delightful on our cooler evenings with friends. Yet, our decks get more use than typical. As soon as the weather allows in spring until the first freeze in the fall, Chicagoans love their patios and decks.

So what if you’re thinking about adding or replacing a deck on your home? What kind of deck do you need, want, can afford and take care of?

When it comes to decking materials, pressure-treated wood, and composite wood are two popular options. But, as with all options, they come with their own set of pros and cons. In this blog post by Get An Eric, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive comparison between these options in addition to some valuable budgeting and planning tips.

Option 1: Pressure Treated Wood Decking

Pressure-treated wood is a common and economical choice for outdoor decking and a sound option for those constructing a deck for the first time. Pressure treated wood is created by treating wood with a host of chemicals, protecting it from insects, weather damage, and decay.

Pros of Pressure Treated Wood

Cost-effective: According to research by, pressure-treated wood costs between $15-$25 per square foot. So a 320-square foot deck will cost you between $4000-$8000.

Availability: Given that this is a common decking material, it is easily available across the country in home improvement stores or local lumber yards.

Durability: Well-maintained pressure-treated wood decks can last for numerous years and withstand all seasons, making it a reliable option to go for.

Cons of Pressure-Treated Wood

Needs Chemical Treatment: Given that this material is created with the use of various synthetic chemicals, environmentally conscious individuals may choose to overlook this material for other options.

Maintenance Costs: To ensure your deck remains in top condition, investing in annual maintenance will be key. This type of deck wood requires diligence in care each year to keep it in prime condition for as long as possible. Otherwise, you will find yourself replacing it in under 10 years. It takes work, but it’s worth protecting your investment so it lasts 20 years.

Option 2: Composite Wood Decking

Composite wood is typically made of wood flour, PVC, polyethylene, or a polypropylene blend. The combination of wood and plastic materials created a product that mimics the appearance of natural wood but requires considerably less maintenance.

Pros of Composite Wood Decking

Higher Durability: Given the blend of plastics and wood materials, this type of decking is typically resistant to rot, insect damage and provides higher durability compared to natural wood decks. The deck could last longer than wood decking, but an annual once over by an expert can help ensure the life of your deck.

Eco-friendly: Usually, the wood and plastic materials used in these decks are recycled, making them a sustainable option compared to natural wood and pressure-treated wood decks.

Customization: Composite decking comes in a wide range of colors and textures, allowing homeowners to find the perfect match for their outdoor aesthetics.

Cons of Composite Wood Decking

High Installation Costs: According to data provided by, the cost per square foot for a composite deck varies between $30-$60. Hence the approximate cost for a 320 sq ft. deck will be $12,000-$24,000.

Heat Retention: A common drawback of composite decks is their ability to absorb more heat than wood, owing to PVCs and other plastic materials. However, once peak sunlight hours are past, the deck cools down fairly quickly.

Maintenance Costs: Composite wood decking may cost more to install, your year-on-year maintenance costs will be up to five times lower in comparison to a wood deck.

However, it’s always a good idea to have some savings for repairs, just in case.

Regardless of the type of deck material you choose, ensure that your contractor builds a strong foundation, especially if you plan to add a gazebo or pergola to it. Or else during extreme weather events, your deck might get damaged or even fly away.

Create a Budget for Your Decking Project

Given that installing a deck requires a significant investment of capital, it is best to create a sound budget to keep costs in check. If you need some help, it’s worth asking a contractor(s) to look at the space and offer a basic quote that will help you get a better sense of cost.

Your budget should include the size of the deck and the approximate cost of its construction materials, labor costs, and annual maintenance charges. Additionally, remember to apply for all required permits and approvals from the local government or the HOA, if applicable.

When it comes to choosing the best material for your outdoor deck, both pressure-treated wood and composite wood are great options. To make an informed decision, consider creating a budget, comparing the pros and cons of each, how you see yourself enjoying the deck and ultimately going with what best suits your preference and expectations.

Outdoor living on a deck you love is an investment that will reap rewards.

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