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A Weather Resilience Comparison: Composite Decking vs. Wood Decking

November 8th, 2023 | 4 min read

By Jacob Livingston

weather resilience comparison composite decking vs wood decking custom built michigan

Are you facing a dilemma as you contemplate renovating your outdoor space with a new deck? Perhaps you're pondering the timeless question: composite decking or traditional wood?

You’re not alone. Many homeowners are grappling with this choice, seeking a deck that can withstand the unpredictable weather, requires minimal maintenance, and maintains its aesthetic appeal. 

That's where our expertise comes in. At Custom Built, we've been at the forefront of the Michigan deck-building industry for 15+ years. We understand the challenges and choices that homeowners face when it comes to deck materials. Our experience and insights into how different materials weather over time make us your trusted guide in this decision.

In this article, we're here to provide you with a comprehensive comparison between composite and wood decking materials. We'll explore their weather performance, addressing your concerns about durability, maintenance, and visual longevity. By the end of this guide, you'll have a clear understanding of how these materials perform under various weather conditions, helping you make an informed decision for your dream deck.

Say goodbye to the uncertainty, and let's embark on this journey to create your ideal outdoor retreat:

Understanding Composite Decking: Trending Durability

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Composite decking is a contemporary solution that has gained immense popularity recently.

Composite decking comprises a diverse mix of ingredients contributing to its exceptional properties. While wood fibers and plastic polymers are the primary components, alternative formulations may incorporate rice hulls, PVC, and various plastics.

These additional ingredients enhance the material's strength, stability, and eco-friendliness, allowing for various designs and colors. The result is a versatile, low-maintenance, and sustainable outdoor decking option that beautifully balances the strength of plastic with the natural aesthetics of wood.

A well-maintained composite deck will last up to 25-30 years. Premium composite decks built with brands like Trex should last 40-50+ years (with a 50-Year Fade and Stain Warranty attached).

Moisture Resistance

Composite decking excels in damp conditions. Unlike wood, it doesn't absorb moisture, which means it won't swell, warp, or rot when exposed to rain, snow, or high humidity. This moisture resistance is particularly essential if you live in The Great Lakes region with frequent precipitation.

UV Resistance in Premium Lines

Composite decks such as Trex Transcend and TimberTech come with UV-resistant coatings and pigments, making them more robust against the sun's harsh rays. This translates into minimal fading and color retention over time. You won't need to worry about staining or sealing your deck frequently to maintain its appearance.

Insect Resistance

Traditional wood decks are susceptible to insect damage, with termites and other pests posing a constant threat. Composite materials, on the other hand, are naturally insect-resistant. This is a significant advantage as it ensures your deck won't become a home for unwelcome critters.

Low Maintenance

Composite decking requires minimal upkeep. You won't have to bother with regular staining or sealing. A simple routine cleaning, usually involving soap and water, is sufficient to keep it looking great, even in challenging weather conditions.

Examining Wood Decking: A Traditional Option

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For decades, wood decking, particularly cedar and redwood, has been a staple in outdoor construction. Its timeless charm and natural appeal have made it a top choice. However, wood's weather resistance can be a bit more demanding when compared to composites.

Properly maintained wood decking is expected to last anywhere from 10-20 years.

Moisture Susceptibility

Wood decks can be sensitive to moisture. In rainy or humid conditions such as Michigan’s climate, they might swell, warp, or rot. Cedar and redwood are more moisture-resistant than other types of wood, but even they require regular maintenance to preserve their integrity.

Sun Damage

Wood decks, especially when exposed to direct sunlight, can experience fading and surface damage due to UV rays. To maintain the deck's color and finish, you must commit to regular staining and sealing.

Insect Vulnerability

Wood, whether treated or not, can be susceptible to insect infestations. Regular inspections and treatments may be necessary to prevent damage caused by these pesky critters.


The Achilles' heel of wood decks is maintenance. Yearly staining and sealing are essential to keep your wood deck weather-resistant. Neglecting this maintenance can lead to costly repairs down the line.

The Verdict: Which Decking is the Best Weather-Resistant Option for Michigan Homes?

In the face-off between composite decking and wood decking concerning weather performance, composite materials take the lead. They exhibit superior resistance to moisture, UV rays, and insect damage, making them a fantastic choice for homeowners who value a low-maintenance, long-lasting deck.

Wood decks, however, have their natural allure and charm. For those willing to invest the time and effort in maintenance and appreciate the classic aesthetics of wood, it can still be a great option. 

The choice between composite and wood decking ultimately depends on your local weather conditions, your commitment to maintenance, and your aesthetic preferences. Armed with this comparison, you can confidently select the decking material that aligns with your needs and desires, ensuring your outdoor space remains a place of beauty and relaxation for years.

Next Steps to Building Your Dream Deck

Remember the initial dilemma that many homeowners face when considering decking options. Choosing between composite and wood decking can be challenging, with weather performance as a central concern.

In our comparison, we've shed light on how both composite and wood decking materials stand up to the elements. You now have a clearer picture of their durability, maintenance requirements, and aesthetic sustainability in various weather conditions.

Custom Built is here to help you navigate your decking project. Our 15+ years of experience have equipped us to guide you through the decision-making process, ensuring that your deck will not only withstand the weather but also enhance your outdoor living space.

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Now that you’ve learned more about how composite and wood decking perform in our Michigan climate, let’s explore the unique deck designs you can choose from, how much your composite decking will cost, and how long it will take to build with Custom Built:

Jacob Livingston

Jacob brings 20+ years of residential construction experience to the Custom Built team. He has spent years in the field learning the hands-on side of building from foundation prep to roofing shingles. With a need-to-know mindset and a desire to understand how things work, Jacob has studied building science, systems integration, home inspection, and radon measurement and mitigation.