Nine years ago, my wife and I started building our dream house. Our goal was simple, to make it low maintenance yet good looking. My wife wanted a small deck to overlook our pool area while I wanted a dark stained deck where I could have barbeques all summer long. After a lot of research and several trips to the timer supplier, we agreed on using hardwood timber.
Fast forward to the present time where I spend a lot of my summer weekends cleaning and refinishing our deck. It’s a lot of work! I honestly can’t remember how many times I’ve replaced loose boards and protruding screws in the last nine years. And all that sanding is making me wish I never had a deck! A couple of times, my wife and grandkids have gotten splinters while walking barefoot on our deck. And as if to add insult to injury, my brother, who built their deck at about the same time we did, doesn’t have any of my problems. What’s his secret?
Eco friendly decking or composite decking, to be exact.
Below is the comparison I did between my deck and theirs. I tell you this with complete honesty; the result is not something I can barrack for.
Eco friendly decking or composite decking is more expensive to buy. According to our local hardware store, cost is about $10 per metre! That’s about 20% more than what I spent on our hardwood decking. At first I thought, that’s my out of pocket brother right there! But then I got to thinking about all the repairs I’ve done, all the money spent on special cleaners, oils and sealants plus all the weekends I lost. My brother’s actually saving more with his “green” decking!
And did I mention that it looks good?
In terms of usability, eco friendly decking wins, hands down. My wife and I had to hire someone to build our hardwood deck while my brother just did his DIY magic on theirs. The irony? He was done after ONE weekend while ours took almost a month! Bah, humbug! Granted that my brother is quite handy around the house, but maybe I should have gone composite too. Perhaps then I would not have had to deal with smelly stains and expensive cleaners.
Quite frankly, this is the deal breaker for me. Based on my research, our hardwood deck should last about 15-20 years, perhaps even 30 if I’m really good with the oiling and the sealing and the cleaning. But you see, I’m not. I hate working during weekends! And I hate missing out on family events just because our deck needs work. My wife and I built our deck so that we could enjoy sunbaking on it, not working on it!
My brother barely spends an hour on his composite deck. Sure, I saw him wash it once, maybe even twice a year. Add a little sweeping here and there and then nothing else. And this is for a guy who loves working with his hands!
THE VERDICT: If you’re like me who hates a deck that needs a lot of upkeep, forget about hardwood decking. Instead go for eco friendly decking. It’s just as good looking but a lot cheaper to maintain. Trust me, you won’t regret it!