Why Pressure Treated Decks Cost More Than Composite Decks


For most homeowners, replacing or adding a new deck to their property is a significant investment and one that they expect to pay dividends in terms of outdoor enjoyment with family and friends for many years to come. And while it’s true that composite decks cost more to build than a pressure treated deck, the price gap between the two options long term is much closer than you might expect. Especially when you calculate the cost of yearly maintenance and repair. 

As deck building professionals, it’s important to remind homeowners of this true cost – and the substantial differences in maintenance – when they are deciding between finishing their deck with PT lumber or a high-quality composite decking product such as DuraLife.  

A Closer Look: Composite Decking vs PT wood

Designed to deliver incredible durability, strength and a multitude of finishes, today’s composite decking options deliver the aesthetic beauty of wood – without the hassles of continuous maintenance.  Take a closer look at the total cost of building a deck with composite decking vs pressure treated wood. If the material cost to build a deck entirely with pressure treated wood is $5,000, a homeowner can expect a composite deck of the same size to cost $9,000 or more.

However, it’s important for the homeowner to also understand that the cost of the composite decking project is essentially fixed for as long as they own the home. On the other hand, the PT wood will require regular, ongoing maintenance to keep it looking great and feeling safe underfoot.  

According to Tim Slamans of Slamans construction, prepping and staining the PT deck mentioned above will cost the homeowner an additional $700 the first year and at least that every other year thereafter. Deck building professionals also recommend that the surface of PT lumber is stripped and sanded every 5 years.

If this is the case and a homeowner is properly maintaining a pressure treated wood deck and hiring a professional, according to remodelingcalculator.org, in 12 years they will have spent at least $4,500 for additional upkeep and countless hours of lost time waiting for the loud, dirty process to take place. What’s more, the PT deck may still be prone to crack and splinter. It’ll never look as fresh and clean as it did when it was first built. Remember, pressure-treated lumber is rot-resistant, not rot-proof. This becomes increasingly important in naturally damp sites near rivers, lakes or the ocean. 

The DIYers Dilemma – PT Wood Maintenance is a Drag

While it’s true that the cost to hire a professional deck maintenance company to maintain a PT deck will vary from one place to the next, some homeowners may suggest that doing this work themselves is “free”. Technically this may be true, but contractors should point out that there’s always a “cost” associated with any action. 

Here in New England, with our changing seasons filled with falling leaves, freezing temps and scorching summers, a pressure treated wood deck will require an estimated total of 20 hours of effort – each year - to keep it clean and safe to use. A composite deck designed to be resistant to mold and mildew growth may require less than 2 hours a year to clean.

In addition to time, DIYers will also have to purchase cleaners and stain – along with the tools and equipment to apply it – several times over the lifetime of the deck. This could cost $300-500. Hardwood composites like DuraLife are made with a coextruded polypropylene outer shell that resists everyday spills and normal wear and tear. A composite deck homeowner may spend $20 a year on cleaning supplies.

Lastly, there are replacement costs to consider. Any natural wood material will be susceptible to damage from the elements and will fail over time. If not meticulously maintained, PT wood decks could need to be replaced in 10 years or less. By comparison, DuraLife backs its composite decking with a 25-year limited product performance warranty.

For Sale: Does Your Deck Add Value or Add More Headaches?

This ‘little detail’ is important for every homeowner to understand, whether or not they plan to be in the same house for 5 years or 50 years. When it comes time to put the house up for sale, realtors and home inspectors can attest to fact that the value of every element of an existing home is subjective to each prospective buyer. When the time comes to sell, do you want your deck to add or detract from the value of your home? If given the choice, would a new buyer jump at the chance to spend his/her first-year sanding, staining or completely replacing an old, worn out pressure treated deck…or imagine themselves sipping cocktails year after year with their new neighbors on their beautiful composite deck? 

Everyone values their time differently. Yet even a DIYer that charges himself/herself $10/hr. can start to see that the long-term costs of maintaining a pressure treated deck can really add up. Unlike pressure treated wood, composite decking will stay looking great – it won’t split, crack or splinter – with very little maintenance, year after year after year. If you look at it over the long haul, investing in composite decking vs PT wood will actually save homeowners money over its lifetime.

Get DuraLife composite decking samples and a DuraLife Step-Clip Fastening System sample. Order yours now! 

This article is made possible by DuraLife. DuraLife’s unique polypropylene and hardwood composite decking materials simply outperform all other wood and composite decking products. More solid and safe under foot, DuraLife decking is backed by a 25-year warranty. It is stain and fade resistant, mold and mildew resistant, and is available in the colors and deck railing options you want. Get Samples, try our Composite Deck & Railing Visualizer, or contact DuraLife now to learn more.