How Much Does Composite Decking Really Cost


Many homeowners struggle with trying to justify the cost of composite decking. Averaging between $3.50 and $5.00 per linear foot, the cost of installing a high-quality composite deck will certainly be higher than building with traditional pressure treated lumber, which can cost between $1.00 - $2.00 per linear foot1. However, simply comparing the material and installation costs alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

The average deck size is usually around 400 sq. ft. If we assume a 20’x20’ deck, then a rough estimate for pressure treated (PT) pine lumber would be around $3,000, whereas the same deck built with a high-quality composite material might cost around $5,6001. However, after just 2-3 years of routine maintenance, that cost difference is easily erased. While no one wants to spend more for something than they necessarily have to, there are several other components that contribute to the total cost of purchasing any product. It’s in these “hidden costs” that buying a higher priced – yet higher quality – item starts to make sense.

Here’s another example that might help provide some perspective.

Beware: Clunkers Can Cost More Over Time

At first pass, purchasing a high-quality, reliable, well-maintained used vehicle for $8,000 may seem frivolous. After all, a quick search online will undoubtedly reveal dozens of cars that are already on sale for $1,000 or less. If a “car is a car” then why would someone spend $8,000 on one when they could easily buy something for a lot less?

Well, it really comes down to two things; comparing the long-term value (LTV) and the total cost of ownership (TCO) of both purchases. Essentially, LTV and TCO measure the total amount of time and money that someone will spend on something while they own it. The same principles can be applied to comparing the cost of composite decking with PT lumber.

Yes. Initially, the cost of installing a PT deck will be lower. However, in order to keep the wood deck looking and performing as it should, it will need near constant attention and maintenance. And, there is definitely a cost to completing all that work. No matter if you choose to do the work yourself or hire someone.  

Deck Sealing Costs: An Annual Expense With No Ceiling 

All lumber, even wood that has been treated with preservatives, is susceptible to damage from moisture. As an organic material, it’s naturally absorbent, meaning that water will not only adhere to a wood surface, it can also seep into it. This can cause problems as minor as surface mold and mildew growth to structural damage caused by rot. To prevent this from happening, lumber decking must be sealed with paint or stain every few years – and that costs money. For one, the price of materials, but also the time and labor required for the homeowner to do the job themselves or find a contractor to do the job for them.

Industry research has found that homeowners spend an average of $761 a year on professional deck maintenance (sanding, prepping and staining). Most homeowners pay between $594 and $849 per year2.

Of course, the DIY homeowner has the option of renting the equipment, cleaners, stain and sealants and tackling the job on their own. But keep in mind that while the cost of materials may be less, sealing a wood deck is a labor-intensive job that can take as many as two full days to complete.

As you can see, after just 2-3 years, the additional expense of maintaining a low-cost PT deck starts to encroach on what a high-quality hardwood composite deck would have cost. With none of the mess or headaches to deal with either – composite decks require only sweeping and a quick wash with soap and water between seasons.   

Composite Decks Build Transferable Value

While some DIYers may not mind the upkeep required for PT decks, keep in mind the next homeowner might not feel the same way. What one homeowner sees as being a feature, another may see as a chore. A new homebuyer may look at a pressure treated deck as something that will require work to maintain. Depending on the size and condition of the old deck, this can become a deal-breaker on the sale. On the other hand, a low maintenance, high quality capped composite deck has a far greater appeal for potential buyers and will most likely retain more of its transferable value for longer.

Benefits of Composite Decking

When homeowners understand the true costs of spending less to build a pressure treated deck, the benefits of composite decking become more evident. Once installed, polypropylene-based composite decking, including the DuraLife™ lineup of high-quality composite decking and railing products, require minimal maintenance to keep them looking great.

A high-quality composite deck can last for more than half a century (depending upon the integrity of its sub-structure) and still look great with only occasional cleaning with soap and water. DuraLife’s 25-year limited stain and fade warranty also includes 5 years of replacement labor.

As more American homeowners continue to demand more from their outdoor deck spaces – transforming them into unique residential oasis’ – construction pros are now recommending composites more than ever before. And, homeowners who intend to install comfy weather-resistant furniture, appliances and other accoutrements will often have no intention of moving all of these things around every few years to power wash and repaint. With composites made to look and feel like real teak, cherry or walnut wood, homeowners can simply focus all of their attention on the life events happening on their new deck – instead of wasting time worrying about what’s happening to their new deck. 

For many homeowners, the peace of mind that comes with choosing to install a composite deck is not only worth every penny, it’s the gift that keeps on giving year after year.

Order your samples of DuraLife composite decking now and have them shipped directly to your door!

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.