Wood vs. Low Maintenance Decks: Which Material is Right for You?

Everything you need to know about wood and low maintenance decking before you build your project.


Choosing wood or low maintenance materials (such as TimberTech or AZEK) for your deck is a matter of personal preference.  Before making your decision, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.

  • How much are you planning to invest in your deck or outdoor living space?
  • How long do you plan to live in your current home?
  • How much maintenance or upkeep are you comfortable with?
  • How do you plan to use the space and how can that affect your deck boards?

Composite Pool Deck with TimberTech Brown Oak by Chicago Deck Builder Archadeck of Chicagoland

The investment and why the length of time you stay in your home is important

A low maintenance deck will generally cost 50%  – 70% more than a wood deck.   If you’re planning to stay in your home for several years, low maintenance is a great cost-effective option.  When you consider the cost of hiring someone to pressure wash and stain a wood deck, you’ll find you recoup the cost of the low maintenance deck in about fifteen years.  In other words, while you may pay more up front, that is 15 years without having to worry about pressure washing and staining your deck. Additionally, you’ll have about 10 more years of low maintenance bliss on your deck.

Alternatively, if you are only planning to stay in your current home for a few more years, wood is the more cost-effective option.   You will still need to pressure wash and stain the deck every 1 – 3 years; however, if you only need to do this once or twice before you sell your home, it is well worth it.  Keeping your deck maintained and aesthetically pleasing will increase your home’s value.

Wood Deck with Herringbone Pattern

How using your space can affect the material in different ways

Do you plan to grill on your deck or is this simply a space to sit and relax in?  Will you be eating on your deck?  Do you have large dogs that will be on the deck frequently?  These are all aspects to consider as you determine the material that is best suited for your lifestyle.

Low maintenance boards tend to be more uniform than wood and do not splinter.  Wood, on the other hand, more commonly splinters, fades, and expands and shrinks with the weather.  While low maintenance is still subject to the outdoor elements, shrinking and expanding tends to be less.

Low maintenance boards, while easier to clean and maintain, are still susceptible to scratches, as well as staining from materials such as cooking oils, harsh chemicals, gasoline, and paint thinners.  On a wood deck, stains such as this may be sanded away, however, sanding is not recommended for low maintenance material.

If you do need to clean your low maintenance deck, a soft brush and gentle soap should work well. Use a soap recommended by your product’s company.  Under extreme circumstances, you may need to replace a board or two.  Alternatively, wood boards can be sanded, pressure washed and stained to remove blemishes.

TimberTech Deck with Black Rails

If you are considering a deck project, we would love to hear from you!  You may sign up for a free Archadeck Design Consultation or give us a call at (847) 749-2373.  Our experienced Design Consultants will walk you through the process and will help you determine the best materials for your project.

See you in the backyard!

Author: Archadeck of Chicagoland

As the owner of Archadeck of Chicagoland, I am dedicated to helping our Chicagoland homeowners create and enjoy the outdoor living space of their dreams. We believe the great outdoors is a place for families and friends to come together for fun and laughter.

5 thoughts on “Wood vs. Low Maintenance Decks: Which Material is Right for You?”

    1. I would disagree with the comment. Although true you would not re-coup the original investment in only three years. However, odds are far better that you would get more for your house as home buyers value “maintenance free”.

  1. While “low” maintenance decking is great for many people, the one thing they need to be aware of is that the use of a pressure washer on the decking material will void any warranty. This type of decking also should be cleaned at least once a year.

  2. It’s interesting that you suggested having your wood pressure washed every few years, to keep it looking appealing. I have been wanting to install a deck in my new backyard. I can see how it would be nice to keep having it washed. That way, I will eventually be able to sell my home for more money.

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