Deck and Patio Blog

Choosing Decking Materials: Vinyl vs. Treated Wood

September 5, 2014

When it comes to building your deck, design matters, but materials you use are just as important. Materials affect your deck’s durability, appearance, as well as the ease of maintenance, so choose wisely. And a good place to start is by comparing the two common decking products used by many Maryland deck contractors—pressure treated wood and vinyl. Vinyl is an artificial material, while pressure treated wood is real wood typically harvested from Southern yellow pines. Both have their own advantages and drawbacks.


evergraindeck with vinyl rail

In terms of materials and labor, it will cost you much less to build a deck with treated wood versus vinyl. Because vinyl is artificially made and lumber is harvested from a natural resource, it costs less to manufacture wood decking. Additionally, the cost varies among different wood and vinyl products. Cheaper treated wood, for example, might not be properly dried, which may lead to it shrinking and warping after the installation. However, keep in mind that cost is not everything. These initial savings can cancel themselves out as the time goes by, which bring us to the next point.


Vinyl decking is a low-maintenance material. Besides washing it every once in a while to remove dirt and debris, you don’t need to do anything else. Treated wood is a different story. Although it’s treated, finished and sealed, it is still not completely safe from the elements. The lifespan of your wooden deck is directly related to how well you care for it. Depending on where you live, you might have to refinish your deck once every 1-5 years. Sunshine, cold weather and moisture can be tough on natural materials such as wood.

Wooden deck maintenance is something you could do yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. It can be time-consuming, because you have to strip the remains of the old coating first.


Many homeowners prefer treated wood for its warm, natural feel and classic look. Choosing wood decking also allows you to pick your own stain and match it to the rest of the house. Vinyl, on the other hand, comes in a set range of colors. You might not find the exact match, but you can always choose a complimentary color. Vinyl can also be slick or textured and some vinyl decking products are made to imitate wood. Overall, the appearance is a matter of personal preference and you can’t go wrong with ether material.


Vinyl decks are much more durable than treated wood decks—this is one of the reasons they are more expensive. Although consistent sunlight may cause vinyl to fade, it will never rot, bow, crack or splinter. A deck made with treated wood, on the other hand, will do all of the above if not properly maintained. And even with ongoing maintenance it has a limited lifespan of about 15 to 20 years.

Vinyl and treated wood are just a few of the many decking materials available on the market today. There is also composite decking, exotic hardwoods and numerous tongue-and-groove systems. Interested in learning more about your decking options? North American Deck and Patio, your local Maryland deck contractor, can guide you through the deck building process and help you make the right choices.


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