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. Pressure-treated decking is sold in brown but can be stained. TimberTech will cost twice or more than pressure-treated decking but will cost less in annual maintenance. The advantage of composite decking, less maintenance, more durable backed by a more extended and more comprehensive warranty than pressure-treated.
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 Pressure-Treated History
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 introduction to each company before talking about their decking.
A Brief History of Pressure Treated Decking
Compared to TimberTech, pressure treated decking is the old, traditional decking. But in the larger scope of construction, our current process of preventing wood from rotting, particularly decking, is relatively new.
Humans have been treating wood for over 4 000 years. A.J. Wallis-Taylor, in his book The Preservation of Wood, reports on how the ancient Egyptians were treating wood to prevent rotting.
In 1945 the more familiar green wood was introduced in which wood was treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) a waterborne preservative. Becoming popular in the 1970s in residential construction, coinciding with the increased popularity of decks across North America.
December 31, 2003, the look and treatment of decking changed again. As lumber companies voluntary stopped treating decking with CCA because of its potential leaching of arsenic, replacing it with ACQ (alkaline copper quaternary).
“I remember this not as a change in treatment and safety but when decking went from green to brown. I thought it was just a nice colour change, but there was much more going on.”
The single most considerable benefit, alkaline copper, is not easily absorbed by the body. Minimizing the potential of harmful reactions to contact or slow poisoning as the body absorbs the decking treatment.
Further transforming treated decking was the introduction of 5/4 decking, replacing the once-standard 2×6. A thinner board, only 1” reduced decking costs with more pronounced radius edges, improving their appearance.
I discuss the pros and cons of both more fuller in another article, Comparing 5/4 Decking With 2×6 Deck Boards, Pros and Cons, if you want to learn more about the difference between the two.
In choosing between the two let’s compare using four categories, appearance, durability, maintenance and cost.
A Brief History of 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 Pressure-Treated – Decking Differences
TimberTech composite is made from an 80% blend of recycled plastic and wood fibres plus new material. UltraDeck goes even further, with a claim of 100% of the decking content coming from recycled 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.
Redcuing 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 pressure treated decking.
Treated decking solution was to reduce the thickness. The primary reason that 5/4 decking was introduced.
Yes, it change its appearance in a good way but more importantly it reduces cost.
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.
Pressure treated decking does not have a cap. Unless you call the treatment cap since it is only on the surface of the wood. Unlike the polyethylene of composite, wood treatment can easily be scratched, making the core to the wood decking venerable to rot and insects.
TimberTech vs Pressure-Treated – 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”
Pressure-Treated Decking Options
Unlike Cedar decking, treated decking does not have the appeal of the beauty of wood grains and variations.
The dark colour of the treatment limits your view. The wood still has grains patterns, but its limited to one colour, unless you do a bad job brushing the stain.
For appearance only, the best comparison is TimberTech’s Premier Collection, with its solid colours limited to solid brown or grey.
Unlike TimberTech’s other decking with streaking, woodgrains or colour variation that.
Some people really love the simple look and colour of pressure treated decking. Myself going from green to brown was a vast improvement in appearance.
But if you are looking for variety, TimberTech has more to offer without getting on your knees every few years with a bucket of stain.
TimberTech vs Pressure-Treated – 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.
On the other hand, pressure-treated is receptive to staining, from accidental grease drippings to splashes from your wine glass. It will all stain-treated 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.
Treated decking can be sanding and re-stained to minimize accidental staining, but if deeper than the wood’s surface will leave a permanent mark. With no remedy except for replacement.
Another difference between pressure treated and TimberTech is damage from shoes or chairs.
Decking Becoming Scratched
Pressure-treated is made from softwood, not only the type of tree but the actual wood. Not as soft as cedar, but still, it is very easy to scratch pressure-treated decking. From chair legs to rocks on shoe soles, they will all damage wood decking. It is so easy to scratch.
TimberTech’s polymer cap is not indestructible but will take more to damage than pressure treated decking. You can mar the surface of the composite with a screw or pulling a chair across the decking.
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. But scratches on composite can be repaired.
Pressure-treated decking is easier to repair if done with your annual maintenance. Sixty grit sandpaper will make quick work of most scratches, but re-staining of the decking will be required to match 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.
Pressure-treated will fade. That’s a fact. Better quality stains will fade less, but that’s a matter of stains applied, not the decking.
TimberTech vs Pressure-Treated – 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 Pressure-treated 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.
|Pressure Treated Decking Line||Lineal Price|
|5/4×6 [1”x5.5”]||$1.00 – 1.75|
|2×6 [1 ½”x 5 ½”]||$1.75 – 2.25|
Just talking money. Price. Pressure-treated is cheaper. Consistently costing less than TimberTech. In fact, even with a run-up of prices recently, 2×6 decking is still cheaper than all of TimberTech’s decking. By a significant amount.
There are other costs associated with installing composite decking, which are not covered here. Learn more about composite decking installation costs here.
Depending on when you buy, 5/4 pressure treated will cost less.
At least initially.
Bringing us to maintenance. There is a significant difference in maintenance cost between treated and TimberTech decking.
TimberTech vs Pressure Treated – Maintenance
This is probably the determining line between composite and treated 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 hours of washing will return the decking’s vibrant colours and looks you first fell in love with.
Treated decking must be cleaned, along with annual staining and repairs of any damaged decking. That said, except for scratching, Pine is less likely to be damaged than TimberTech. And scratches can be sanded out before you do your annually staining the decking.
Not only is more annual work involved with maintaining a pressure treated deck it will cost you more than a TimberTech. Depending on if you do the work yourself or hire someone.
Hiring someone to stain your treated 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.
On the low end, after 3 stainings, Premier would have cost you the same.
For Legacy, TimberTech’s most expensive wood composite, it will take 6 times to match the cost.
If it costs more than $2 a square foot to hire someone, the price difference between composite and pressure treated shrinks faster.
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.
Which is the crunch.
If you love working on your deck, treated is great. If not, low-maintenance TimberTech may be a better option.
TimberTech vs Pressure-Treated – Warranty
Pressure Treated Warranty Decking
Unlike TimberTech, which is only made by TimberTech Azek, pressure treated decking is made by many different companies. Meaning there are many different warranties and levels of protection. For our example, we will use Prowood, which Home Depot sells, but this is not a universal warranty. Lowes sells EcoLife treated decking with a slightly different warranty. Check your treated decking manufacture’s warranty for exact comparison.
Prowood has Lifetime Limited Warranty for pressure-treated decking against rot, fungal decay, and termite damage. To be clear, this does not include fading or staining, which are included with TimberTech decking.
There are some interesting exclusions from the warranty.
- All cuts and drill holes need to be brushed with endcoat preservative.
- Any boards that have been cut lengthwise or surface.
- Any damage to the wood such as raised grain, splitting, checking, twisting, warping, shrinkage, swelling, or any other physical property of the wood.
In short, your decking is only warranted against rotting. If anything else happens to it, it’s not covered. On top of that, except for minor cutting, everything else voids the warranty. Essentially, it’s the treatment they are warranting, not the decking.
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.
Pressure Treated is not warrantied against fade. In fact often uncapped composite often use the phrase
“fades like wood”
Which is exactly what pressure-treated will do.
Yes, the right stain will minimize fading for a while, but that is the stain’s warranty, not the decking. For just the decking, pressure treated will fade. That’s a guarantee.
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 labour 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, pressure-treated has no coverage for the cost of replacement or removal.
Yes, pressure-treated has a warranty but compared to what TimberTech includes in their warranty, it is non-existent. TimberTech’s warranty is longer, and more comprehensive, covering structural, fading and staining.
Pressure-treated, only rot.
TimberTech vs Pressure-Treated – 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 Pressure-Treated decking
The single largest reason to choose pressure treated decking over TimberTech is price. Pressure treated will save you hundreds if not thousands.
At least initially. Then with every year of maintenance, the advantages of pressure treated decking diminish. How quickly depends on who is doing with work and the stain you use. If you do the work, buy the most durable stain, taking the time to sand and stain correctly. Will keep the cost of wood decking lower than composite.
But staining incorrectly or paying someone else to do the work and the advantages evaporate.
TimberTech has a longer, more compressive warranty while being more durable against scratches and offers more appearance choices.
Even with cost, the difference between Prime+ and pressure-treated is small. Especially on a small deck. After the first staining, you are halfway to paying for 25 years of low-maintenance decking.
Whichever you choose, low maintenance TimberTech or annual maintenance Pressure-Treated decking. Enjoy your deck!