Serving Professional Builders since 1932

Choose the Right Decking Material

Nowadays, with the large selection of products available, choosing the right material for your new deck can be a challenge. But don’t worry, Carter Lumber is here to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about your deck.

The two main decking products you have to choose from are pressure treated lumber and composite materials. There are many differences between the two, but lets look at the 5 major areas of difference you should focus on.

How It’s Made

Pressure treated lumber is wood to which chemicals have been applied and then exposed to high pressures distributing the chemicals deep into the wood. This process allows the wood to last for a very long time even when exposed to weather, moisture and insects. Composite decking on the other hand is manufactured by combining wood pulp with various plastics that are then extruded to produce boards.


Both treated lumber and composite decking are very durable, often lasting the entire life of a deck. Composite decking is essentially rot and decay proof by its makeup. The durability of pressure treated decking is now so high that many companies offer lifetime warranties on their pressure treated wood products. However, if not cared for properly, treated lumber can twist or crack which is not something you need to worry about with composites.


Price is often the deciding factor between pressure treated lumber and composites as the lumber is much less expensive. Composite decks are generally about twice as expensive as a wood deck, but that extra cost buys you a lot less maintenance.


This is a big area of difference for the two products and a major factor why more people are turning to composites. Due to it’s uniform make-up composite decking is virtually maintenance free. You may have to wash it a couple of time a year, but that’s about it. Pressure treated lumber requires quite a bit more maintenance. Being wood, the lumber can begin to look weathered if not maintained. Generally, minimum care levels require that you wash and seal a treated deck regularly to keep it looking its best.

The Look

Lumber decks and composite decks look very different. Lumber decking can be stained or painted a variety of colors to fit the look you’re trying to achieve. Composite decking on the other hand, comes in a variety of colors that can be matched to the environment. However, there is no way to change the color of composite decking because the material itself is dyed.

We hope we’ve given you a number of things to consider as you research your new deck. With the many options of decking now available, we recommend you visit your local Carter Lumber to see in-person the difference for yourself. Our knowledgeable employees can answer any questions you may have regarding the differences between treated lumber and composite materials for your deck.