Building a deck is a great project for spring, which will be here before you know it. If you are considering this sort of undertaking for your next major home improvement project I’m sure you are weighing the decisions of whether or not to use wood vs. composite decking material. The fact of the matter is that each has both advantages and disadvantages.

Composite decking material

This is a relatively new concept when it comes to building materials and from all indications is a good alternative to wood on many levels. The first and probably most appealing to many homeowners is the fact that composite materials require much less maintenance than wood. These materials are weather proof and stand up well to water, which makes them an ideal choice if you are planning decking around a swimming pool or spa. Another feature about composite decking materials that makes them an attractive choice to those building decks is the fact that it will provide a uniform look for your entire deck. You do not have to worry about natural variances or even knots making an unwelcome appearance in your decking project.

For me, the greatest thing about composite decking material is that this is the environmentally friendly selection. We live in a world of limited supply and what seems to be unlimited demand. The fact is composite decking material is a very eco friendly choice. Composite materials are also an economically friendly selection as the maintenance costs are considerably lower over the lifetime of your deck. Your upfront cost for materials may be a bit higher but overall you will pay less.

Wood decking material

Wood material when building a deck is a no-brainer for me. I know that composite materials are the environmentally friendly choice and on the other hand I know that I simply prefer the look and feel of wood. There is nothing on earth that can replace the warmth and invitation of wood for outdoor living and entertaining. I know it requires extra care but for me the care is part of the beauty of wood. Wood is more durable than composite materials, especially if you choose your wood wisely. Your wood deck should last much longer than the 10 to 20 years that manufacturers of composite decking advertise.

Cedar is my wood of choice when it comes to decking material for many reasons. First of all there are natural features of this wood that make it resistant to bug infestation and damage. Second, Cedar is simply a beautiful wood of its own right. The color is lovely and simply makes me feel at home in the outdoors and the smell is something that will last beyond the initial cut. While it is a mild fragrance you will be able to enjoy the smell of cedar for a while to come. Most importantly when it comes to decking material is the fact that Cedar ages gracefully and is functional for quite a while.

Whether you choose wood for your decking material or composite decking material is entirely a matter of choice and finance for most people. There are many things about each that make them appealing to buyers. It’s not a right or wrong answer, simply a matter of preference. Hopefully this will help you when it comes time to make your decisions.

Question: Jimmie, I have two nice trees in my front yard. They have been there for about 10-12 years I think. I really like them as they match and seem to fit the yard size well. I wish I could tell you what kind they are but I really do not know. I am sending you a picture from last year and hopefully you can identify them for me. My daughter and son in law recently built a house in Prosper and they also would like a few of the same. Here is my problem: During one of the last big storms a section of one tree was broken off and died and I had to pay and have it removed. Now I have this big gap in the tree and think my shade grass and plants may die. I would appreciate your thoughts. Thank You, LeeAnne in McKinney. We love reading your column!

Answer: Hi LeeAnne, thanks for reading! I did receive your photo and I’m afraid you may not like my answer. You have Bradford pear trees and while I agree they are beautiful in the late winter or early spring when they bloom, their very tight branching structure leaves them susceptible to trunk breakage. They also have a very short life span. Nine times out of 10 when you see a broken section on someone’s tree after a big storm it is a Bradford Pear tree. If you truly like the look I would strongly suggest your daughter’s new house be planted with Aristocrat Pear trees. It gives the exact same look but much better balanced branching structure and much longer life span..

Question: Jimmie, I am planning on having a deck built this summer but have only a small area to work with. Are you aware of any “small” outdoor patio type table and chair sets that are still considered high quality and long lasting? I know you deal with this kind of thing a lot with your clients so I thought you might be able to provide me with a vendor to find something like that. Thanks for your time. Matt L. in Prosper

Answer: Hi Matt, if you were my client I would probably advise you go a different direction than along the lines of your existing thoughts. Generally with a small space to work with in our industry it is widely understood that that small space can become “cluttered” quickly. By adding your outdoor patio furniture you would have accomplished that “cluttered” look immediately. Why not just build “permanent seating” such as benches etc. into the design of the deck and leave your area open and functional at the same time?

Until next time…Happy Gardening!


Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at or in care of the Prosper Press at Jimmie is the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company. He is a resident in Prosper. His landscaping and gardening column runs every other week in the Prosper Press.