How to Calculate Cost of Ownership of a Timber-Look Composite Deck
Today’s trend is to create an outdoor space or ‘room’ that provides more quality living space for the family. It allows you to enjoy the outdoors and it’s cheaper than building on an extra room. Whether this is an extravagant outdoor space with kitchen and fans, or a simpler set up with just a BBQ, one of the major expenses in common with both is the flooring.
Due to the expense and time for ongoing maintenance required for natural timber, interest has grown in composite decking options, such as NewTechWood.
NewTechWood is a timber-look composite manufactured from 60% recycled timber and 40% recycled plastic. It’s not only environmentally friendly, but it requires little to no maintenance compared to natural timber and comes with a 25-year warranty.
Decks can be constructed from cheaper treated pine through to heavier, more expensive natural timbers, but the one thing they have in common is they all require a lifetime of ongoing maintenance. Yes, natural timber decking is lighter and more inexpensive but certain timbers may be infused with harsh chemicals to prevent mould, mildew and other problems common to timber. These chemicals often create a greenish tint to the boards that may take many summers to fade and can be poisonous to pets.
Upfront Savings Don’t Equal Cheaper Decks
However, when the budget is the number one priority, most homeowners turn to cheaper timber, like treated pine, because this wood is low cost – at least initially. The more upmarket timbers, such as Jarrah and spotted gum are not only pricier and still require ongoing maintenance, but they deplete our natural resources. Because they are natural wood, they will also eventually surface check (crack), warp, cup, or splinter, even with the best of care.
There are more reasons people are turning to wood-look composites, but as with timbers, even composites are not created ‘equal’. Cheaper composites are cheaper for a reason and you get what you pay for. The cheaper composites not only look plastic and feel plastic, they don’t last. Tip: Check the warranty.
Higher-quality wood composite, like the product offered by NewTechWood, is fabricated using high-density recycled plastics and wood fibres – materials that typically end up in our landfills – to create boards that look like real wood and feel like the real deal underfoot.
This quality-made composite timber decking is manufactured to be eco-friendly and create a durable, natural look with a lower total cost of ownership than natural timber decks. Yes, you read that right. And I know what you’re thinking. “But I’ve checked it out and timber is so much cheaper!”
Calculating the True Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
When choosing construction materials for your new outdoor space, don’t simply consider the initial costs of materials and construction. You’re going to own that deck for a long time and you want it to last without a lot of time and money-consuming maintenance.
For example, natural timber will require the application of a wood sealant or oil regularly – every six to twelve months depending on climate, exposure to the elements, and the amount of use it gets. The weather, the sun, the family activities – all of these take their toll on your outdoor living space. This results in the necessity of ongoing routine maintenance and potential for expensive repairs. Re-stain it. Reseal it. Power wash it each spring to remove mildew and mould. Replace worn decking weakened over time. Your “cheaper” natural timber deck needs constant upkeep.
You can pay someone to seal your deck each season and you’ll add to the TCO every time the maintenance crew shows up. Time to write another cheque. Of course, you can do it yourself, but you’ll spend much of your free time (as well as money) applying the chemicals to the decking while trying to keep the kids and the family dog away.
So, when calculating the total cost of ownership, start with initial costs for materials, and add the labour cost of construction. Then add the cost of stains, sealants, and routine deck maintenance. Calculate the value of your time if you spend a Saturday sealing the deck instead of snoozing on the deck!
Calculate Lifetime Costs
When calculating TCO, run your numbers out at least 10 to 20 years. How much will the TCO be for your deck then, when you add up annual maintenance costs, the hours of painting, staining, sealing, and scrubbing off mould, not to mention the rising cost of the products you need to use. Don’t just consider the initial cost. Determine the total cost of ownership over the expected life of your deck.
In a nutshell, with natural timber over the next 20+ years, you will be spending a lot of time and money on ongoing maintenance… but with a composite, like NewTechWood, the only thing you’ll be spending time and money on is throwing another shrimp on the barbie and once in a while washing down your deck with a hose and a broom.