Synthetic decking materials offer an efficient alternative to traditional wood decks
You want something that’s going to add to your usable outdoor space, but you also want to ensure it’s a good investment for the long haul. You want your deck to stand the test of time, continue looking great even after years of use, and net you a nice little return when you decide to sell one day.
So why do we say that synthetic decks are a great long-term investment? After all, it’s been well-documented that wood decks provide you with a better financial return than decks made with synthetic materials – we’ve even written about that here. Whereas synthetic decks, on average, will earn you back about 74% of their original cost, wooden decks have an astounding return rate of 87%!
But those numbers don’t tell you everything – and a good return on investment can mean very different things to different people.
Do Wooden Decks Really Have a Better Return on Investment?
Yes and no. What the numbers in those reports always fail to tell you is that they don’t include additional costs like those associated with maintenance and repairs. When you purchase a synthetic deck, all you really have to do to keep it looking like new is clean it on a relatively regular basis. Wooden decks have to be cleaned, too, but there’s another far bigger cost you’re going to have: staining.
To look their best, wood decks need a new coat of stain every single year. Now that may not seem like it’s such of a big deal, but when you start crunching the numbers, it really is. Staining a wood deck tends to cost about $3 to 4 per square foot. For an average-size deck, that ends up being about $1,000. When you multiply this over a decade, you’ve spent an extra $10,000 on your wooden deck above and beyond the initial cost.
But that still doesn’t cover the cost of a synthetic deck, right? Wrong. A typical wooden deck is likely to cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000. A comparable synthetic deck will likely run about $5,000 more, for a $15,000 total.
If you stain your wood deck every year like you should to ensure it stays looking great, you’ll actually be $5,000 in the hole compared to someone who purchased a comparable synthetic deck at the same time. And even if you skimp on the staining and do it every other year, so that your deck still looks okay, you’ll be at the exact same place financially as the person with the synthetic deck.
And because you’re skimping on the upkeep, your deck probably isn’t going to get you quite as high of a return, pulling you down to synthetic deck ROI levels – or possibly even less. But there’s another kind of “return” that ends up being the reason many people go with synthetic decks: time and energy.
A Truly Stress-Free, Maintenance-Free Deck
Looking past the monetary return for a second, the bigger reason that people choose synthetics over traditional wooden decks is because they truly are something that people can just put up and enjoy. As long as you clean your synthetic deck regularly, it should look more or less like new – even after 20 years. In contrast, a 20-year-old wooden deck that has only been cleaned will look like it is 20 years old.
As you might imagine, this isn’t good for resell value – and it’s not particularly good for your enjoyment either. But to keep a wooden deck looking good and working like it should over the same time period, you have to invest a lot of time and effort. Just staining it ever year is something that may take days each time, depending on your speed, and those are hours that most people would probably rather spend doing something – anything – else.
Choosing a synthetic deck over a wooden one means getting that time back for yourself, and that’s something that a lot of people are more than happy to invest in.