Natural Wood or Composites?

Designer Decks and Patios frequently receive questions from customers wondering whether they should use natural wood or composites during construction? Both building materials offer pros and cons. This brief blog post discusses some of the differences between them.


Natural And Man-Made Products
Whether you decide to erect a gazebo, a backyard deck, or a stylish patio or porch, the quality of the materials you utilize matters. While hardwoods qualify as completely natural (lumber companies obtain the timber from harvested trees), most suppliers cut, dry and pressure treat wood products extensively prior to making them available for construction. Today, woods offer a variety of appealing textures and rich grains. Just as they did centuries ago, customers today sometimes select logs and other wood products for use in home construction projects.

By contrast, today man-made composites occur in a stunning variety of forms. They often supply a preferable alternative to wood for building purposes. At least 50 different manufacturers offered these products in the United States. Researchers create composites by using two (or more) materials, combining them to form a new product with different attributes.


Natural Wood: Pros And Cons
Wood supplies a versatile building material. For generations, carpenters have cut and shaped it to fit a variety of building dimensions. With care, this material furnishes attractive wood grains in many different sizes and shades. Many people stain, wax or paint wood to enhance the visual impact of a deck or a patio.

Unfortunately, unless protected by chemical coatings, over time wood surfaces will deteriorate in contact with moisture. Wet wood warps out of shape and eventually rots. For this reason, people who select completely wooden decks must perform extensive annual maintenance to ensure they fully protect exposed surfaces from the elements. (They may also need to re-stain or re-paint wood on a periodic basis for aesthetic reasons.)


Composites: Pros And Cons
The advantages and disadvantages of different composites vary widely. They depend to a great extent upon a material’s unique properties. For example, plywood represents the quintessential composite: manufacturers glue thin layers of several different wood veneers together, employing strong adhesives and variable grain directions. The resulting product supplies a far lighter weight yet reasonably strong building material. Plywood often resists water damage better than wood.

Our firm frequently relies upon a tough, exceedingly durable high-quality composite called “Trex“, a long-lasting material manufactured from recycled ingredients (plastics, woods, and sawdust). Trex offers strength and performs well across a wide range of temperatures (unlike some competing composites). It accepts a variety of permanent colors during the manufacturing process, so customers don’t need to perform maintenance re-staining or re-coloring unless they choose to do so. Unfortunately, although it typically lasts two to three times longer than wood, Trex does usually cost more per square foot.

Further Information
We welcome customer inquiries. To discuss your landscaping construction project needs in Northern Virginia, contact us at 703-361-2077. We value your business!