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Building your new deck: Wood or composite decking?

With summer on its way, you might be taking a look at your tired old deck and realize you need an upgrade. Or maybe you’re ready to add a deck to get more out of your yard and time with your family.

Either way, after choosing the right remodeler, one of the most important decisions you’re going to make is the material for your new outdoor space.

Wood and composites both offer advantages when building your new deck. The experienced team at T.W. Ellis can help you choose the right options. T.W. Ellis has been building decks in Maryland for nearly 20 years. We are a Certified Master Deck Builder and long-time member of the North American Deck & Railing Association.

A variety of options

As you can imagine, “wood” is a broad category. We’ve built decks in everything from pressure-treated pine to cedar to exotic hardwoods like Ipe (pronounced EE-pay). There is great variation in the cost, appearance and quality of wood even within a given species.

The same holds true for composites (created from wood and plastic). We work with many different manufacturers, including Fiberon, Trex and TimberTech to name just a few. Just like with wood, different composites offer different advantages and each brand uses a different method for creating their specific product. We work hard to source the best materials for your deck and walk you through all the options for your home.

Large deck with lots of seating areas and a loggia.


When it comes to decking, cost is a complicated question. If we’re talking about initial cost, a pressure-treated lumber deck is still probably the least expensive option. It’s worth noting, though, that the price gap is not nearly what it was a decade ago as composites have become more popular. Other wood species, especially more exotic hardwoods, are going to cost more than most composites.

We also need to consider the lifespan of a deck. A wood deck will last 10 to 30 years depending on species and how well it is cared for. A properly maintained composite deck can last decades. Many composite products now come with a lifetime guarantee. With that in mind, even more expensive composites can cost less over the lifetime of your deck.


All decks require some maintenance. While not “maintenance free,” composite options do require less upkeep than wood decks. Wood decks will typically require sealing, refinishing and other care, sometimes on an annual basis. Composite decks will require cleaning, with frequency dependent on your weather and yard conditions.

To prevent mold and mildew, look for composite options that are resistant to those growths. UV protection will help reduce the chance of the color fading on your composite deck, especially if your deck is going to get a lot of direct sunlight.

Both composites and wood will contract and expand as the temperature fluctuates. A professional deck builder will take this into account when installing your deck to make sure these changes don’t cause problems for your deck or the rest of the home.

Award-winning deck built by T.W. Ellis in Havre de Grace, MD


The aesthetics of your deck is really a personal choice. Composites have made great strides in their natural wood appearance. Many options are able to replicate wood with great authenticity, but they’re still not real wood. Still, if you want the look and feel of wood, composites can come pretty close these days.

A deck is a great way to enhance the enjoyment of your yard, but make sure you build it safely with a fully licensed, insured and qualified remodeler like T.W. Ellis. Contact us to today to talk about your decking, outdoor living project or any remodeling needs!

Also See: Plan Your Outdoor Living Project for additional information on building your new deck.

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