Composite Decking Prices
These days, many homeowners are turning to composite decking as their go-to material for deck building. This particular type of material is made to look similar to wood, but it needs hardly any maintenance and is extremely durable. Whereas wood may have been the default decking material in the past, those considering building a deck should look into composite decking and its costs below.
If you think composite is right for your new or current deck, talk with a native decking contractor to hear what it would take to install a composite deck in your backyard.
Table of Contents
- Composite Decking Costs
- Cost Factors of Composite Decking
- Benefits of Composite Decking
- Drawbacks of Composite Decking
- Budgeting for Composite Decking
- Types of Composite Decking
- Colors of Composite Decking
- Solid & Hollow Composite Decking
- Other Considerations for Pricing
- Tips for Saving On Deck Costs
- Composite Deck Maintenance
- Find A Pro
Composite Decking Costs
- The average cost of composite decking is $35 per square foot.
- For polythylene-based composite decking, the average cost per square foot is $7.82.
- For polypropylene-based decking, the average cost is $8.68 per square foot.
- For solid polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-based decking, the average cost per square foot is $9.48, though buying this material in hollow slats can reduce the cost to around $7.50 per square foot.
- Overall, homeowners who opt for composite decking should expect to pay anywhere from $9,000 to $20,000 for a composite deck, with the average reported cost, according to TimberTech, at $15,579.
Cost Factors of Composite Decking
While the prices above represent the averages for all composite decks, there are a few factors that can increase or decrease your total deck installation cost.
First and foremost, the deck material and size of your future deck will play the largest roles. As you just saw above, the price for composite decks can range from $9,000 all the way up to $20,000. With average deck prices ranging from $7 to $10 per square foot, one can imagine how such a range develops.
The next factor is labor. Advanced DIYers can install decks on their own, but more often not, most contact a licensed decking professional. This of course raises your total investment, but nonetheless, ensures a professional product.
The remaining decking cost factors include extra accessories (lights and benches), seasonality, permits and location.
Benefits of Composite Decking
There are many benefits composite decking has to offer. Durability is perhaps the biggest selling point for composite decks. While composite decks can last for over 50 years, most homeowners replace them after 30 years due to tired look. Needless to say, with minimal upkeep, you could have a terrific deck for almost half a century.
Speaking of maintenance, composite requires very little. Despite being made of plastic, composite can warp or scratch and is thus, not indestructible. However, occasional cleaning and monitoring should prevent it all. To clean your composite deck, just spray it with your hose once a month when you can or once a week during heavy use.
If you see your deck color start to fade, call in the pros to see if you can paint it. More often than not, the answer is no, but a few composite manufacturers or paint companies sell paints specifically for composites.
Finally, unlike wood decks, there is no need to stain or seal your deck (if you still like the color). While your wood deck can splinter, your composite deck will not. Wood deck owners who want to preserve that pristine deck condition need to seal their decks at least once a year.
Drawbacks of Composite Decking
Of course, there are a few disadvantages to composite decking, the first being the price. While most composite deck prices start at $9,000, many wood decks can be built and installed for roughly $5,000.
Furthermore, fixing composite decks is not as simple as wood decks. For example, if you own patio furniture and wind sends it across your deck, scratching the surface, wood is much easier to fix and refinish. You can’t refinish a composite deck.
Finally, color change is another drawback. While there are a few paints that apply to composite, most do not. Therefore, the color you originally choose, or the color your decks fades into, is likely the only composite decking color you’ll get.
Budgeting for Composite Decking
Composite decking does tend to be a bit more expensive than traditional deck materials when it comes to upfront construction costs. However, homeowners who opt for composite decking over traditional wooden decking can also save money in a number of ways. For example, the fact that homeowners with wooden decks do not need to worry about rotting, splintering, staining or sealing can save them thousands of dollars over time in terms of maintenance and upkeep.
Types of Composite Decking
There are three main types of composite decking material commonly used these in America:
- Polyethylene-based decking
- Polypropylene-based decking
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-based decking
Each decking types has their benefits and potential drawbacks. For example, polyethylene and polypropylene composite materials actually contain some wood within them. Some homeowners like this because it allows them to stain the deck if desired. These are also both oil-based materials, though polyethylene is gradually becoming less popular because it is not quite as durable as the other two options.
The decking industry has been making more of a shift towards using PVC-based composite decking for a number of reasons. While this particular material does not contain any wood and thus does not stain, it is the most durable. Since the material does not absorb any water, required maintenance is very minimal, and there is generally no concern over mold growth. However, this particular type of material also tends to cost 20% more than polyethylene-based and polypropylene-based decking.
Colors of Composite Decking
While the options are a bit limited compared to wood decks, composite decks do come in a variety of colors and can even come with an added grain to make it appear more like real wood. But, according to TimberTech, the four general color categories are:
- Beige & Red
- Light & Medium Brown
- Dark Brown
To see all subcategories, please click on the link above.
Solid & Hollow Composite Decking
Once homeowners choose a material for your deck, you must choose between hollow and solid construction of the deck. With hollow decking, the overall weight is less, and it is possible to use the hollow spaces between the slats of decking to run wiring for lighting or speakers. On the other hand, the hollow spaces in between deck slats can become more prone to deterioration over time.
Solid decking tends to be a bit more expensive because of the increased amount of materials used. However, this type is also more durable and quieter to walk on because it better emulates the feel and shape of a real wood deck. Because there is more material, however, the deck may be more prone to expansion and contraction over time with fluctuating temperatures.
Other Considerations for Pricing
The standard size for a deck is considered to be around 10 x 12 feet, though larger decks are quickly becoming the norm in new construction homes. Of course, the right size deck for any home can vary. Homeowners considering a composite deck should start by taking a look at other decks in their neighborhood to determine what size seems appropriate for them. Furthermore, homeowners should consider whether they want a single-story deck, a double deck or something even more elaborate. If budget is a concern, then sticking with a standard 10 x 12 deck or smaller and avoiding anything more complex than a single deck is probably a wise decision to keep costs down.
Size is not the only consideration that should be kept in mind when it comes to figuring out the total price of a composite deck. Additional features can also influence the cost. These days, many homeowners have lighting installed with the deck as a way to enjoy the outdoor living space at night. This lighting is often set on a timer, so it turns on at a certain time each night. Based on your preference, lighting can be installed on the tops of deck posts or even underneath the rails of the deck for a more ambient glow.
Tips for Saving on Deck Costs
Of course, a deck is a huge investment for any homeowner. Even though the return on investment for decks is quite high, most homeowners still want to do everything they can to save money on the materials and installation costs of a new composite deck. Fortunately, there are a few steps any homeowner can take to cut down on composite decking cost.
If you are sold on composite, go with a hollow polythylene-based composite. If you hire a decking pro, offer to help any way you can. Whether its applying for a deck permit, helping move the composite or removing an old deck, the less labor they have to do, the lower your final composite deck bill will be.
Speaking of hiring a decking pro, always get multiple quotes. While the cheapest quote may be tempting, chances are, their standards will not meet yours. Additionally, have your deck built during the spring or fall. Many homeowners wait until the summer to have a deck installed, but do not realize that this is typically when deck prices are at their peak.
Composite Deck Maintenance
As you have read throughout this post, composite decking requires very little maintenance compared to wood decks. Nevertheless, regular cleaning is necessary to ensure your deck looks like new for years to come.
When not in use, opt for Olympic Deck Cleaner for oil, grease or other heavy stains. For regular cleaning, a hose should do.
Below are a few other tips for composite deck maintenance:
- Never use shovels or sharp edges to remove snow and ice from your deck.
- For oil and grease stains, clean as soon as possible.
- If you pressure wash your deck, do not exceed a pressure of 1500 psi.
- Clean your deck as often as needed or at least twice each year.
- Improve drainage around your deck to eliminate standing water under it.
Find A Pro
Despite the higher cost, homeowners looking to install or replace a deck should certainly consider composite decking. If installed property, you should have a durable and beautiful deck to hose BBQs and family gatherings for years to come.
As always, if you want a little help along the way, ImproveNet can connect you with a local decking pro for free!
Last updated on Aug 4, 2016
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