When choosing between Pressure-treated and TimberTech composite decking, there are several things to consider. Things like appearance, durability, price, maintenance, and warranty of the decking.
TimberTech has 17 decking colour options. Cedar has a classic wood beauty matched by none, with the possibility of staining creating many more options. Both deckings are roughly priced the same depending on the quality you buy. But TimberTech decking is backed by a comprehensive warranty and requires less maintenance than cedar.
That a lot to say in one paragraph. It would be good to develop and work out the details between the two a little better.
Before discussing decking, let’s talk history.
TimberTech vs Cedar decking, An Introduction
As a deck contractor, I often find that knowing the salesperson or the carpenter makes a big difference in how I view their work or what they say. The same can be said about decking and decking companies.
So, let’s start with a brief history of TimberTech and Cedar decking before talking about decking.
A Brief Introduction to Cedar
Cedar has long been the wood of choice for decking with its natural beauty and resistance to rot. Recently its rot resistance has come into question, with much of the old-growth trees already having been cut down and the younger Cedar tress having less resins. Resins takes time to develop; therefore, the younger the trees are less rot resistant.
Still, cedar is an excellent wood to work with and can be stained to minimize UV and moisture damage while still enjoying the wood’s natural beauty.
One of the greatest appeals of wood decking, cedar in particular, over composite is its natural beauty. Composite has come a long way with capping to improve its appearance, but it still has a plastic look and feel compared to wood
A Brief Introduction to TimberTech
TimberTech was started in 1997 manufacturing composite decking. Like all composite decking manufacturer, started with an un-capped board. But now, only sell capped composite decking with its enhanced beauty and protection.
TimberTech grew to become a leader in the composite decking industry. Currently, TimberTech has two manufacturing facilities, one in Wilmington, OH, and the other in Scranton, PA.
In 2012 they were acquired by Azek. The world’s third-largest manufacturer of PVC products based out of Chicago with a focus on low maintenance exterior building products. Azek, already having its own line of PVC decking at the time of the acquisition, merged the two decking companies together.
“Our brand exists to challenge convention. To rage against mediocrity. We believe “Good Enough” is never enough. We are TimberTech.”
Despite merging the two decking companies, they have kept their decking separate by offering different series. All the PVC boards are sold as TimberTech Azek. Simultaneously, the composite decking made with wood fibres is sold separately as TimberTech Pro and Edge series. Within these two series including 5 different collections, each with its own distinct advantages.
At the same time TimberTech Azek continues to manufacture PVC decking. Sold in two collections, Vintage® and Harvest®.
Now we know them a little better and their story and where they came from, let’s compare what you will be installing on your deck, decking.
TimberTech vs Cedar – Decking Differences
TimberTech composite is made from an 80% blend of recycled plastic and wood fibres plus new material.
The plastic helps to protect the wood fibres minimizing maintenance requirements. At the same time, the wood fibres reduce cost while increasing strength. Creating a beautiful, long-lasting decking requiring minimal upkeep.
Reducing material and decking cost
TimberTech scallops the underside of their Terrain and Prime+ collections, helping to reduce weight and cost. This is important only when you first buy and build your deck but becomes irrelevant, impacting the decking strength little.
Scalloping does increase the importance of picture framing to finish the decking ends but beyond that impacting the decking little.
Scalloping does not reduce the cost of cedar decking.
Cedar decking solution to cost was to reduce the thickness by making 5/4 decking.
An appearance change in a good way, but more mainly to reduces the cost of cedar decking.
TimberTech caps its boards with high-density polyethylene (HDPE). A more durable material than the core’s low-density polymer without any organic material makes the decking more resistant to water and the sun.
Improving the decking both in appearance and performance.
When it comes to the cap coverage, there are some variations.
- TimberTech Pro series is fully capped all 4 sides.
- TimberTech Edge is only capped 3 sides.
TimberTech Pro series also includes Mold Guard® Technology increasing the level of protection combined with the full coverage.
Cedar decking does not come with a cap. The closes thing to a cap is stain, protecting the decking from sun and rain and adding colour to the decking. But unlike TiimberTech’s cap, which lasts 25 years or more, stain will need to be reapplied annually.
TimberTech vs Cedar – Decking Options
The capping finishes also changes the feel of the decking. Along with the blending of colours impacting the look of the decking. From solid colours mimicking painted decking to imitating exotic wood decking.
|TimberTech Decking Line||Number of Colours||Decking Profile||Capped Sides|
So many collections, so many variations.
“complex blend of hues, natural board-to-board color variation, and a hand-scraped texture”
Includes Whitewashed Cedar, one of the cooler decking colours. It also includes shades of brown and grey to compliment your house.
“Inspired by reclaimed wood, the heavy wire-brushed, low-gloss finish showcases the classic cathedral wood grain pattern”
Reserve is the deepest embossed of TimberTech decking. All three colours are enhanced with dark streaking along the boards.
“traditional hues … range from solid to moderately varied and create a timeless look with a complex, rugged wood grain pattern designed to camouflage everyday wear and tear.”
Terrain has the shallowest embossing and least streaking with different shades of brown and grey. This probably is their most wear-friendly decking. Less to chip, collect dirt or notice, making use much less noticeable.
Scalloped to reduce cost, making Terrain an affordable, low-maintenance decking option.
“subtle, straight grain pattern and offer a painted wood look”
Similar to Enhance Basics colours but missing the blonde option. Also, a solid profile, instead of scalloped increasing its price over Basic’s.
“moderately varied hues. Featuring a subtle, straight grain pattern, … an authentic wood visual”
Cedar has been chosen for years because of its grain pattern. With natural variation in colour. Wood grains radiating out from tree knots. With no two boards the same.
Even when left to “grey,” cedars still has a natural beauty. Wood grains are less visible but still has that rugged wood charm.
Instead of greying, cedar can also be stained, transforming the colour while accenting the wood grain pattern. Transforming the feel of your backyard each spring with new vibrant colours. From a red to a more subdued brown. Whichever colour is reflecting you at the moment.
Another option is not to change the colour of the wood at all and only clear seal the cedar. Keeping the natural wood unchanged to be enjoyed but still protected against the sun’s harmful UVs and moisture.
TimberTech vs Cedar – Durability
Decks are built to be enjoyed, not just seen.
Durable decking is valuable decking.
Decking that wears well under constant foot traffic, the occasional pulling of chairs and spilling of ketchup, grease and beer on the deck. Not that you intend to, but accidents happen. The decking must hold up against all life throws at or drops on it.
Decking Staining Comparison
For accidental spills, TimberTech’s polymer cap can easily be clean up. I quick wipe with a damp cloth or a scrub with water and soap, and your back to new.
Similar to cleaning a vinyl floor in the house.
Cedar, on the other hand, is very receptive to staining. Both intentional and accidental. From accidental grease drippings to splashes from your wine glass. It will all stain a cedar decking.
The level of staining is dependent on a few things.
How recently the deck has been stained. The intentional stain, not the one spilled. Stain deuterates, therefore newer will resist better. Stain also seals the wood against moisture. Slowing the absorption of the spill, giving you a few more seconds to clean off the decking before staining.
Cedar can be sanding and re-stained to minimize accidental staining, but it can leave a permanent mark. With no remedy except for replacement. Cedar staining to its very core.
Another difference between cedar and TimberTech is damage from shoes or chairs.
Decking Becoming Scratched
I love the look of a new cedar decking but always hate the care that must be taken while installing. The simple act of setting your impact driver, clip down on the decking can scratch it.
TimberTech decking can be scratched but much less than cedar.
Being more resistant to scratching and staining are two reasons why composite is better for dogs than cedar. Dog claws and accidents can damage decking, but composite decking is more resilient.
TimberTech’s polymer cap is not indestructible but will take more to damage than cedar decking. You can mar the composite’s surface with a screw or pulling a chair across the decking but is unlikely with regular use.
For minor scratches on composite decking, you can use a heat gun to heat the board, minimizing the cut. Do be careful not to burn the decking, which will look worse than a scratch..
Scratches on Cedar decking may be easier to repair if done with your annual maintenance. Sixty grit sandpaper will quickly sand out most scratches. Re-staining of the decking will be required to match the colour of the sanded area with the rest of the decking.
Fading, just like staining, is connected to the cap’s quality or the lack of one.
The polymer cap of TimberTech will fade in the sun to a limit of 5 Delta E. That is barely noticeable to the naked eye.
Cedar will fade, greying if not protected by stain. That’s a fact. Better quality stains will reduce fading, but will need to be reapplied regularly.
TimberTech vs Cedar – Pricing
Pricing is always a tricky one, constantly changing from region to region, fluctuating with the season. This is especially true with wood decking. In fact, just crossing the street at times can save you a few hundred on a deck.
Still, this should give you a sense of the cost of TimberTech and Cedar decking. At least when comparing the price of each.
|TimberTech Decking Lines||Lineal Price||Decking Profile|
|Legacy Collection||$5.80 – 6.35||Solid|
|Reserve Collection||$4.30 – 4.75||Solid|
|Terrain Collection®||$3.35 – 4.05||Scalloped|
|Premier Collection||$3.10 – 3.25||Solid|
|Prime+ Collection®||$2.40 – 2.65||Scalloped|
TimberTech, with so many collections, offers a wide range of decking to meet any budget.
The most expensive Legacy Collection which is almost $4 a linear foot more than their entry-level Prime+.
You may need to compromise with appearance, but you can find a board to meet your budget.
|Cedar Decking||Lineal Price|
Cedar is not all equal, creating a large price range for decking. You can buy “construction” grade cedar from a big box store saving money, but most of us would prefer the better-quality cedar. Cedar that will last longer, with tighter knots and distinct grain pattern and colour variations, but quality cedar will cost more.
Cedar decking will look better installed using edge fasteners like Camo. Camo screws will increase the cost of cedar decking but not as much as composite decking hidden fasteners. Especially TimberTech Timbertech CONCEALoc Hidden Fasteners which cost more than almost any other decking fasteners.
Even with the additional cost of fasteners, TimberTech is close in price to cedar. Their Premier and Prime+ collections within the range of cedar decking.
Terrain is on the higher end. Quality cedar often costing less. At least initially.
Then there’s the cost of maintenance. There is a significant difference in maintenance cost between cedar and TimberTech decking.
TimberTech vs Cedar – Maintenance
This is probably the determining line between composite and cedar decking, Maintenance. It is the reason that composite was invented and the most distinguishing difference between the two.
With TimberTech, there is minimal maintenance. Largely cleaning, especially removing gunk between boards. This can be down either with a bucket and broom or a power washer set low enough not to damage the decking. Either way, a couple of hours of washing will return the decking’s vibrant colours and looks you first fell in love with.
Cedar decking must be cleaned, along with annual staining and repairs of any damaged decking.
Cedar can be allowed to gray, but it is almost impossible to return it to its original beauty after. Even after sanding, the decking will have lost some of its vibrancy. Forever after being slightly duller in colour.
Not only is more annual work involved with maintaining a cedar deck it will cost you more than with TimberTech. Depending on if you do the work or hire someone else to.
Hiring someone to stain your cedar deck can cost you as much as installing the decking in the first place. With the average cost to stain a deck being between $2-4 a square foot.
Not only is more annual work involved with maintaining a cedar deck it will cost you more than a TimberTech. Depending on if you do the work yourself or hire someone.
Hiring someone to stain cedar decking can cost you as much as installing it in the first place. With the average cost to stain a deck being between $2-4 a square foot.
If it costs more than $2 a square foot to hire someone, the price difference between composite and cedar shrinks faster. In most situations after paying for someone to stain the decking it will cost more than TimberTech.
Even the high-end Legacy, TimberTech’s most expensive composite decking. Staining cedar just twice will bring the cost above the cost of it.
Of course, you could do the work yourself.
Doing the work yourself will reduce cost significantly to as low as $50 stain, sandpaper, and brushes. To a few hundred, depending on your deck’s size. But it will cost time on a warm but not too hot day to do the work. The perfect deck day.
Which is the crunch.
If you love working on your deck, Cedar is great. If not, low-maintenance TimberTech may be a better option.
TimberTech vs Cedar – Warranty
TimberTech has two lengths of warranty, depending on the decking series.
TimberTech Edge series warranty is also 25-year.
The first 10 years 100% replacement, dropping by 20% every three years after. The last three years’ only valued at 10%.
Moving up to TimberTech Pro,you get an additional 5 years for a total of 30-years of protection.
TimberTech Pro series with the more extended warranty period drops 10% every 2 years until the final four with 10% replacement value. Making the last few years less valuable but still warrantied, nonetheless.
TimberTech is warrantied against nothing more than 5 Delta E.
Cedar with the right stain will minimize fading for a while. Subject to the stain quality not the dear decking.
You do have the option of letting cedar “grey,” but grey cedar boards do not display the wood beauty as much as stained decking.
Including labour is a new development in composite decking warranties. The labour to install decking is often as much or more than the cost for the material. Covering labour makes sure you are not on the hook for extra charges if the decking fails. Increasing the value of the warranty substantially.
This makes sense. I would not want to warranty an untrained installer.
TimberTech labour warranty limited to certified contractors. The duration is based on the level of the contractor who built your deck. The more volume of decking installed by the contractor, the longer the labour warranty.
- Member & Silver 2-4 years
- Gold & Platinum 5-7 years
The maximum protection is provided if railing is included. The lower years for only the decking and fasteners.
Unlike TimberTech, cedar has no coverage for the cost of replacement or removal.
Cedar decking has no warranty. No promises that the decking will not fail. No covering of the cost to re-install new decking. It is all on you. If you select cedar right, take care of it will last. But it could also need to be replaced tomorrow, but that’s on you.
In short, TimberTech has a warranty, Cedar none. Leaving little security with cedar decking.
TimberTech vs Cedar – Which is Better for You?
Now for the hard part, choosing which decking will be best for you for the next 25 or more years.
Comparing TimberTech vs Cedar decking
TimberTech has a warranty, 25 or 30 years.
TimberTech decking requires less maintenance saving you time and money in the long run.
Cedar and TimberTech are similar in price, except you will get more consistency and durability from TimberTech than Cedar.
All that said, appearance may be the reason to build a cedar deck. Nothing that TimberTech makes looks like new cedar. Maintained cedar has a beauty rivalled by none. You can build a beautiful composite deck, Dr.Decks does it all the time. But Cedar, they are not.
If love the look of cedar and are willing to do the work to maintain it. It is the decking for you.
If you want a beautiful deck without all the maintenance, backed with a warranty. TimberTech decking is for you.
Either one, enjoy the sun on your deck.