Cost Comparison Wood vs. Composite Decking

By Jay Leone; Updated April 24, 2017
Composite wood is one decking material option.

Having a new deck installed can be quite an expensive undertaking. One of the largest factors affecting the overall cost of a decking installation project is materials. There are several advantages and disadvantages with both wood decking and composite decking. The biggest difference between wood decking and composite decking is that composite decking is a man-made material constructed out of a combination of recycled wood fibers and plastic.

Costs

Including professional installation, wood decking can cost anywhere from $10 to $24 per square foot, while composite decking costs around $20 per square foot according to CostHelper.com. A large wood or composite deck can run between $4,000 and $25,000, depending on the scope of the project.

Wood Types

Type of wood chosen can greatly affect the overall price tag on a wood decking project. According to CostHelper.com, some species of wood such as yellow southern pine cost between $10 and $16 per square foot installed. Some species of wood such as redwood and cedar cost between $18 and $22 per square foot installed. Teak-like hardwoods can cost the consumer between $22 and $24 per square foot to have professionally installed.

Installation

Professional installation can double the price of a deck installation. While it is time-consuming and complicated to construct a new deck, it is not beneath the intermediate do-it-yourselfers. Do-it-yourself homeowners can install a small deck for anywhere between $500 to $1,000.

Features

There are certain features offered by each type of wood and composite decking material that contribute to the average price associated with each material per square foot. Redwood and cedar demand such a high price tag because they are rated to last for more than 20 years. Yellow southern pine is pressure treated for the purpose of use in decking. Teak is often used in decking because it is considerably durable. Composite decking is perhaps the most durable material in use for decking, which is why it is one of the most expensive types of decking.

Additional Costs

Regardless of whether wood or composite materials are used, there are several additional costs that can add up and have a sizable impact on the overall cost of a deck project. Adding custom benches and railing systems can drive up costs. If the deck will be a multi-level deck involving stairs, the ultimate price tag can increase dramatically. Installing a multi-level deck out of wood or composite materials can cost the consumer between $16,000 and $25,000, according to CostHelper.com.