Real Wood vs. Composite

How does Composite Decking Material compare to Real Wood decking?

The demand for Real Wood natural hard wood Brazilian decking is growing rapidly as deck builders, home builders and home owners become aware of RealWood attributes. This decking is now stocked in the United States.

Characteristic of Material Real Wood Decking Composite Decking
Stable between joists Yes SAGS
Scratch resistant Yes No
Scratches can be repaired Yes No
Many colors available Yes Yes
Beautiful grain patterns Yes Etched
Matching railing lumber Yes Yes
Will not rot Yes yes
Insect and termite resistant Yes Yes
No maintenance required Yes Yes
Useful life beyond 10 years Yes No
Naturally beautiful Yes No
Color can be maintained Yes No
Color can be restored Yes No
Burn resistant Yes No
Replacement boards match Yes No
Hidden fasteners available Yes No
Environmentally responsible Yes No
Environmentally sustainable Yes No
Notch in posts to install OK Yes No
Structurally functional Yes No
Price Less More

Appearance of Real Wood vs. Composite Decking

Natural Beauty: While the carpet-like uniform coloring of composite decking is nice, the natural beauty of the many colors in RealWood hardwood decking are beautiful.

Scratch Resistant: Many Composite decking choices have a wood grain pattern etched into the surface. Like most plastics, composite decking scratches easily by dragging a chair or walking a large dog across it. Repetitious scratches create a noticeable path across the etched grain pattern. This will occur on a deck from the door to the gate where traffic is heaviest. These scratches can not be repaired because one can not match the etched grain pattern. Attempts to sand them flat leaves cloudy abrasion marks. RealWood hard wood decking is difficult to scratch and can be sanded to match and look as good as new when scratches do occur.

Colors and Grain Patterns: Composite decking is available in a seemingly infinite range of color choices like vinyl flooring and carpeting. Many of these choices are impregnated with repetitive wood-like grain patterns. RealWood hard wood decking is available in a variety of natural colors and grain patterns. Some species have a variety of colors throughout the variety of grains. All naturally beautiful.

Hidden Fasteners: Composite and hard wood deck boards may both be kerfed (edge grooved) to be installed with hidden fasteners.

Railing Lumber: Railing components are manufactured from composite material so that posts and handrail will have the same appearance as the decking. Composite posts may not be notched because doing this would reduce the structural integrity so much that they would not support the weight of a person leaning against them, making them unsafe. Exact matching composite railing lumber can be challenging if it is supplied from a different run than the decking or if it has weathered and is not as new. Matching balusters are not used in composite decking.

Matching railing and deck components are available to match all decking options in RealWood Brazilian decking. Made from the hardest and strongest woods in the world, these hard wood components offer a lifetime of beauty, durability and safety. Hard wood posts can be notched for the easiest, strongest and most attractive installation preferred by all professionals. Matching balusters, handrails and stair components provide the finishing touches for a beautiful deck.

Workability, Flammability, Maintenance & Repair of Real Wood Decking compared to Composite Decking

Stability: Composite deck boards droop between joists over time because they do not have the proper structural properties to support their own weight. This results in an uneven deck surface. RealWood deck boards remain straight.

Flammability: Plastic and oil-based composite decking burns. RealWood hard wood decking is very dense and is very difficult to burn. Many species have the same fire rating as concrete.

Workability: Plastic bends, droops and cracks in weather. The installation instructions for composite decking components are very specific and warrantee driven. These instructions prohibit the installer from notching posts, for instance. Plastic makes great milk jugs, food containers and water bottles but does not serve well as structural material. RealWood hard wood can be used up to and beyond normal wood installation practices. It is stronger, lasts longer, more durable, more tightly grained and expands and contracts less than any other wood on the planet. It can be nailed, screwed, glued, sawed, planed, milled, sanded and mitered like any other wood. RealWood is the first choice for professional carpenters.

Maintenance: With no maintenance, composite and RealWood hardwood Brazilian decking will retain the same structural integrity for many years. Composite decking will not degrade in strength for up to 10 years while RealWood hardwood decking will retain its sound structural integrity for 30 years and longer (depending on the species) without maintenance.

Color Maintenance: Colors fade in sunlight. Composite decking color fades and natural wood also fades. The natural beauty of RealWood hard wood decking can be maintained by periodic (usually annual) finish applications and can be restored like new (if allowed to fade) by cleaning and refinishing. Color fastness is not warranted on composite decking and it can not be maintained or restored.

Replaceable: A damaged composite board can not be easily matched with another identically weathered board. New RealWood hard wood boards will not match other previously installed boards initially but will weather to fit into the deck colors easily given the individuality of natural hard wood. Like snow flakes, no two boards are exactly the same. Replacement boards quickly age to match nicely. This is a characteristic of naturally beautiful decking.

Resistance to Rot & Decay

Rot: Plastic composite decking does not rot from water but will decay from UV exposure over time. Any hardwood species that survives the natural rainy climates with months of rain like the RealWood hard wood decking species do has proven rot resistance. These hard woods will not rot.

Insect and termite resistance: Bugs do not eat oil-based plastic decking. Bugs can not eat RealWood hard wood decking. It is simply too hard to eat. There are also too many other delectable soft wood choices in the yard next door.

Environmental Impact

Environmentally Responsible and Sustainable: Oil-based plastic composite decking material (like water bottles) are not biodegradable, not reusable and have a limited availability given the finite amount of oil left on this earth. By buying RealWood hard wood decking, you are contributing to sustaining rain forests. Your purchase provides the economic value needed to sustain these forests and prevent them from being scraped and turned into soybean (ethanol) or mine fields. Like cypress siding, heart pine flooring and real mahogany paneling, RealWood hard wood is reusable for decades. For more information about the importance of sustaining the economic value of the rain forests visit


Real wood hard wood decking costs less than comparable composite decking choices. There are a few hollow composite deck boards that are priced similarly to hard wood decking but… they’re hollow.

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