1. Material: What's It Made Of?

High-performance composite decking

The ultimate in backyard decking, high-performance composite is wrapped in a tough-as-nails finish that keeps the beauty in, and the work out.


  • Soap-and-water maintenance
  • Fade, stain, scratch and mold resistant
  • Natural wood grain finish and rich color
  • Earth-friendly
  • Fade and stain warranties


  • Often costlier board-for-board

PVC (vinyl)

PVC (vinyl) decking all plastic material with no organic content makes it low-maintenance.


  • Stain, scratch, and mold resistant
  • Low maintenance
  • Finished look without painting


  • Tends to squeak and get chalky
  • Not earth-friendly
  • Costlier board-for-board

Traditional composite decking

Early-generation composite decking

Your first-generation wood-alternative board. Part wood, part plastic, all easygoing.


  • Won't rot or splinter
  • A great, durable value
  • Earth-friendly


  • Can fade and stain
  • Prone to mold and mildew
  • Requires periodic cleaning with deck wash
  • Susceptible to scratches

Wood decking

For the purist, a wood deck is real and natural, with a pleasing heft.


  • Traditional, one-with-nature feel
  • Affordable board-for-board
  • Easy to work with, easy to source


  • Rots, splits, swells, twists, fades
  • Contributes to deforestation
  • One word: splinters
  • Pressure-treating chemicals are toxic
  • Requires painting, staining or sealing

2. Labor


The cost of building a deck can be 20-50% labor, so it’s important to consider whether whether you like the deck that's going to last and be beautiful for the lifespan of the home. Or product that requires continual maintenance and eventual replacement the labor remains the same the cost of the product is the difference.

3. Maintenance

How Much Upkeep Are We Talking?

Beyond the initial premium cost of composite decking, the cost of maintaining, replacing and simply hating the mess other products can turn into is worth a run through the calculator.

Often, in five to ten years time, the relative costs (think powerwashing, waterseal, stain, weekend-filling chores) even out.

4. Beauty

Lots Of Design Options?

Some materials enable customizable design options—everything from curves to multiple colors and wood grain patterns—while others are more limited in scope.

When choosing a material for your project, it’s helpful to keep your priorities in mind: are you looking for great design options, the best value, or maybe a product that offers a balance of both.

5. ROI

What's It Worth When I Move?

Some products add more value and joy to a home than others. The more carefree and eco-friendly the deck, the more attractive it is to potential home buyers…that is, if you can ever dream of moving.