Source: idnes.cz The technology you’ll use on your terrace is so advanced today that you can’t tell with your eyes whether you’re looking at natural wood or wood-plastic composite (WPC). But you can tell the difference by the price. WPC is more expensive. In return, you don’t have to care about maintenance, and despite this, it remains the same.
Composite terraces are ideal for swimming pools as there’s no risk of getting a splinter.
Wood is slightly cheaper to buy but it must be treated with oil several times a year, depending on local climatic conditions and load stress, which takes time and means cost of oil. In addition, the original look of the natural material is seldom preserved.
Here, wood is certainly the winner in terms of material costs. “Exotic woody plants are used. The clue of quality is wood density, and price may also be applied as a quality clue,” says Marie Oulická of AU-Mex. But this guidance clue is defied by the most expensive of them, teak that fails to have the highest volume density, yet is part of the top in terms of durability. And this is because of the oil content in the material, which extends the useful life of wood.
Pros and cons
Wood+ natural material+ lower price – lower durability – regular maintenance – cost of oil – colour change
Composite + maintenance +no risk of splinters – higher purchase cost
But if your material is genuine Burmese teak, the board cost per a square metre exceeds CZK 2,000. It is so rare that almost all of it has been harvested. Its Indonesian surrogates grown to harvest wood do not share the same qualities, so beware of replacement. Putrefactive processes can be observed in them in a mere couple of years.
But other types of wood can be bought cheaper. For example, boards from bangkirai wood can be at just slightly below CZK 1,000 and merbau at CZK 1,700.
Naturally, a terrace can be also made from cheap spruce or pine boards. But anyone who tries will confirm this is not quite the best idea. You’ll have to replace rotten boards with new ones after three years. Anyone who prefers durable certainty and is not a DIY fan excited over work with wood should never choose such materials.
A square meter of WPC composite material costs just over CZK 1,500 crowns, or slightly less than the best quality grade of wood.
Material service life
Vendors of material for terraces provide a warranty of 5 years for wood and up to 25 years for composites. For an investment of this scope, this not a negligible aspect. WPC ensures an advantage of nearly maintenance-free use.
What is WPC
WPC is a man-made “wood”, consisting in two-thirds from wood flour, complemented with a polymer, thus achieving the optimum ratio of these two materials. This eliminates undesirable risks of wood (rot, fungi, insect attacks, colour changes, desiccation, twisting, roughness, splinters, adverse influence of the sunlight, frost and water, etc.), but also enhances the visual effect of wood surface.
Wood entails ongoing costs of oil application every year (even several times a year). This restores the original properties of wood. A lack of such a process reduces the service life considerably, not to mention the loss of the original wood colour. Most types of wood get grey and lose the original colour.
Even if you do all your best to take care of wood, you must still consider its limited service life. Simply, it’s a natural material with all its pros and cons.
There will be a draw here. The construction processed don’t differ in their technology. You must prepare the same kind of bed for the terrace as if you meant to build a paved path or drive to your house. This means removing earth about 20 cm deep. Fill with coarse grave, apply fine particulate on top, compact. This construction work will cost you CZK 500 to 1,000 per square metre, depending on the site.
No savings will be achieved during the installation. The installation is essentially the same for both materials as work with WPC is the same as work with wood. “A lot of people trust their skills, buying only the material and doing the installation themselves,” says Milan Klíma of Mores, a company installing Woodplastic terraces.
So, the criterion can be skipped for the sake of comparison.
How walking on it feels
A new terrace looks always great, no matte whether its from wood or composite. But wood is more prone to ageing; walking barefoot on it involves some risks as you may get a splinter. This is something that owners of composite terraces never need to worry about.
Many people are also afraid that composite boards will show the polyethylene ingredient which encapsulates those 60 percent of wood. The editors of hobby.cz were also curious, so they went to do the testing with their feet. There is wood right on the site of our editorial office and we see the site maintenance team do their careful oil coating every year. Still, the boards crumble.
By contrast, Woodplastic remains almost the same several years after the installation, as checked on reference sites. After the first weeks and moths, the top layer of wood scrap will wash away, with the boards turning slightly lighter; after that, the colours stabilize and remain unchanged. There’s no risk of getting a splinter. Without being told it’s not true wood, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
When building a terrace, the cost of construction work and installation work is higher than the material cost itself. If, say, you budget CZK 4,000 per square metre of complete delivery, you can save about CZK 1,000 on average: nothing if you opt for teak, the most expensive choice, and CZK 1,500 if you go for the cheapest sorts.
But the question is how much this benefit will cost you. The cheaper the material is, the more maintenance is required and the shorter the useful life is. Everything will look nice in the beginning, but wood will turn grey in the course of time, and you must paint it at regular intervals. It may be not much work to do, but as the proverb says, many small burdens add up to a big crushing burden. Those small burdens add up to the regular maintenance of the house and garden.
Do a sum of the cost of oil and time, and you’ll arrive at the cost of composite. So it’s for everybody to decide if they stick to the natural material despite all the risks attached, or they will just invest a little more in the beginning, after which they will enjoy their terrace free of maintenance.
Which material would you opt for when building a terrace
Wood 604 votes
WPC 1022 votes