Wood vs Composite
Wood is still the material of choice for homeowners building, expanding, or replacing a deck. About half of all decks built in the U.S. are made entirely of wood. And until recently, wood decking was also the most cost-effective material to use, by a long shot.
But change is underfoot. Steep pandemic-related shortages have made wood far less affordable. Between spring 2020 and 2021, wood decking prices rose as much as 150 percent, due to supply chain kinks and skyrocketing demand from homeowners and builders. And experts project that prices won't drop significantly for the rest of the year.
In fact, those surging costs might temporarily make composite and other alternative decking materials—usually far more expensive because they last longer—more appealing. Synthetic plank decking, for instance, offers good looks with less upkeep. Composites, which blend ground-up wood and plastic, also require little maintenance; they can simulate wood and offer lots of color options.
If you previously would have passed over alternative decking, or may have even started your project with the intention of using wood, it might be time to give those alternatives a second look, either because the price gap has narrowed or simply because it’s what’s available. (Keep in mind that depending on the decking material you use, you still may need to build the frame, or structure, out of wood.)
Ultimately, building or updating a deck can boost the value of your home. And of course you want materials that look and feel good, at a price you can handle. But aesthetics and cost are only part of the equation when shopping for decking. It's also worth considering which materials will be easiest to care for and will stand the test of time.