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Is Cedar Decking Better Than Composite?

Updated: Mar 21

A deck can either be a valuable investment that you look forward to relaxing on at the end of a hard day, or a troublesome money pit. The difference lies in the kind of material you use to build your deck.

When you start looking up materials to use for your deck, you will see a lot of possible options. However, there are only a few choices that are truly worth the investment - cedar decking happens to be one of them. But then you see everyone talking about this cool, innovative material called composite decking. Which of these two options is best for your project?

Not to worry, we’re here to help you solve this dilemma. In this short article, we will talk about the different things to keep in mind when contemplating between cedar vs. composite decking. This will help us find a clear answer to the question, “is cedar decking better than composite decking?”

So, let’s get started with our cedar decking vs composite decking debate!

Quality Cedar can meet all your cedar board needs. This blog is informational only and not a replacement for expert advice. Please consult a professional before starting any building project as your needs and specifications may vary and it may not reflect the most current building codes, regulations, or industry standards.

Cedar vs Composite Decking: The Different Factors To Consider:

Before we can answer the question, “is cedar decking better than composite?”, we must first tackle the different factors that set them apart.

Cedar decking and composite decking are two completely different materials. That said, when it comes to comparing cedar decking vs. composite decking, there are many different factors to take into consideration. In this section, we’ll discuss each key factor one by one:


Cost is perhaps the first thing that people consider when choosing a material for their new deck. After all, a deck–regardless of its material–is quite a hefty investment for the average household.

Most composite decking is made from recycled plastic, sawdust, wood fibers, and other reclaimed materials. Composite decking requires a lot of research and development to make it look as close to real wood as possible, and processing can take up a lot of time. With this considered, it comes as no surprise that composite decking is far more expensive than cedar decking.

On average, composite decking costs between $30 to $60 per square foot, whereas real cedar decking only costs $20 to $40 for the same amount. If price is an issue, cedar decking is better than composite. However, you shouldn’t shop based on price alone - you typically get what you pay for, so let’s move onto the next factor to consider: appearance.


In our opinion, the aesthetic that genuine cedar lumber provides cannot be beat. We love the appearance of real cedar decking, and that is typically a universal sentiment.

The average person may not be able to tell the difference between cedar decking vs. composite decking–unless the latter is poorly made. Composite lumber manufacturers have come a long way. These days, composite decking looks as authentic as the real deal. However, you may have to pay more if you want your composite deck to look like natural wood.

With that in mind, it makes more sense to pay for real cedar wood if you want your deck’s appearance to look as natural as possible.

Quality & Performance

Real cedar possesses a natural resistance to wood rot, decay, and insects. Due to its durability and superior quality, this type of wood is the best choice for homes in temperate and extreme climates. It can stand up to the elements and has a low shrinkage factor that prevents warping, twisting, or cupping.

With proper maintenance, it can last for 20 to 25 years on average. In fact, some cedar deck boards can even last upwards of 40 years with the right type of care.

Composite decking comes in both hollow and solid planks. Hollow composite planks are more cost-effective, but they can accumulate water, which causes warping. Solid composite planks are sturdier than hollow ones, but are susceptible to expanding and contracting, which can lead to cracking. That said, a composite deck must be installed carefully and in the right area in order to maximize its durability. In optimum conditions, a composite deck can last around 30 years. Thus, cedar decking is superior here, too.

Finishing Options

Because it is free from pitch and resin, cedar can absorb and hold a wide range of finishes easily. Whether you want to leave it as is or stain your deck (either transparent or semi-transparent), real cedar wood will look amazing. Transparent stains can emphasize your wood’s natural color, while semi-transparent stains are great for producing a subtle but more pronounced color appearance.

If you want to change the color of your cedar deck, you can simply restore your wood then apply another stain.

Composite decking, on the other hand, can only accept a few refinishing options. Plus, it is difficult to resurface composites primarily because of their synthetic makeup. On the flip side, there are plenty of color choices for composite decking, but take note that sunlight may cause your deck’s original color to fade away over time.

Environmental Impact

Composite decking uses recycled and reclaimed materials, making it virtually zero-waste. Plus, you don’t have to stain or seal a composite deck, meaning there is no need for potentially hazardous or toxic substances.

However, some composite decks are non-recyclable. When your composite deck eventually reaches the end of its lifespan, you may have to throw it away in the landfill.

Cedar, on the other hand, is completely biodegradable. Moreover, cedar helps absorb carbon from the atmosphere, which can aid in the reduction of global warming.

Required Maintenance

Cedar lasts a long time with annual maintenance, including inspection, deep-cleaning, and re-sealing. With little to no maintenance, however, cedar decking can still last for a considerable amount of time (10 to 15 years).

Composite decking requires much less maintenance than cedar decking, but it is not completely maintenance-free. You also need to sweep, wash, and de-ice it as you would other decks. However, composite decking won’t deteriorate as fast as wooden decks if you don’t maintain it regularly.

So, Is Cedar Decking Better Than Composite?

Cedar decking vs. composite decking: which one is better? Now that we have all the factors down on the table, our final recommendation is definitely western red cedar decking.

When it comes to appearance, finishing options, quality & performance, and cost, cedar decking trumps composite any day of the week. Although composite decking is made from recycled materials and requires little to no maintenance, the fact that it costs more but performs poorly outweighs the pros in our book.

Final Thoughts On Cedar vs Composite Decking

Is cedar decking better than composite? The answer is a clear yes. So, now that we have settled the cedar vs. composite decking debate, you can start looking for the best cedar products for your new deck with confidence.

If it’s superior quality and amazing variety you want, look no further than Quality Cedar Products. We have every size of cedar dimensional lumber you might need, along with all types and styles of cedar posts, board, and timbers you could want. So, if you want a one-stop shop for all your decking needs, look no further! Contact us today and see what we have in store for you and your home.

Wholesale Lumber Incorporated does not assume any liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information provided in this blog post. The reader is solely responsible for any actions taken based on the information presented. Any reliance on the information is at the reader's own risk. Wholesale Lumber Incorporated is not responsible for any loss, injury, or damage that may occur as a result of following the suggestions, tips, or recommendations provided in this blog post. Building projects involve inherent risks, and it is essential to exercise caution, obtain proper permits, and engage qualified professionals to ensure safety and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. The inclusion of external links, references, or recommendations in this blog post does not constitute endorsement or guarantee the quality, reliability, or suitability of the linked sources. The reader should independently verify the information and assess its relevance to their specific circumstances. The author reserves the right to modify, update, or remove the content of this blog post at any time without prior notice. It is recommended to check for the most recent updates or consult with professionals to ensure the information is current and applicable. By reading this blog post, the reader acknowledges and accepts the above disclaimer and agrees to use the information provided responsibly and at their own discretion.

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